This proposal is located at Portchester Castle on the costal edge of a promontory on the north side of Portsmouth Harbour. North of the Castle are the white chalk cliffs of the Ports Down.
The oldest part of the Castle dates back to the 12th century, the buildings are enclosed by a wall which is up to 800 years old. The Castle contains a gatehouse, the keep and moats in and around the keep. There is a church within the castle walls, in the opposite corner to the keep with a large expanse of flat grassed land in between. Portchester village is a few miles from the exit and locals use the castle on a regular basis. It is considered to be the heart of the community and used for different leisure activities such as cricket matches, weddings and church services. The castle grounds are free to walk around and there is a café to stop for refreshments. The keep also acts as a visitor centre which you can explore for a small fee.
My design aims to bring a further interactive element to the castle’s attractions, in the form of a climbing wall. This could add new life to the castle’s facilities attracting a wider range of visitors from different age groups. I observed the younger generation interacting with the castle walls, where there was a desire to climbing up them, but this was a very limited opportunity due to the age of the site, so it was not safe. I wanted to look at this naturally instinctive activity in a new way by creating a setting that would fit within the context of the building.
My project started with an analysis of the natural materials along the shoreline that surrounded the castle. I looked at the rocks, the seaweed and shells as well as the moorings for boats and the general landscape of the area.
For my climbing wall structure, I chose to reflect the form of the keep and placed it in an adjacent corner near the coastal side of the castle, so the actual castle buildings would not be crowded and a balanced outline to the castle would be achieved from a distance as well as close up. I wanted it to resemble the existing castle keep in mass and sit well within the surroundings. This will be achieved through the overall mass of the structure and also through the use of different layers within the construction of the building itself. The base would be a bouldering wall where you could imitate the castle wall climb or boulders on a beach. Above this is a rope climbing area that has a view over the tops of the actual castle walls. Sitting at the top there is the outlook out that would give a full 360° view over the estuary to Portsmouth along the coast and back over the village.
This design has the potential to be even further developed to include classroom spaces for workshops related to the natural history of the area and crafts linked to the castle’s history and marine connections. As well as other sport activities such as abseiling and a maze of tunnels to explore.