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Steel

Rise above

By Lisa Rummler

February 2010- Tent? Check. Sleeping bag? Check. Anti-vertigo medicine? Well...

Although most people do not consider the last item a necessity for camping trips, it might have been in several backpacks throughout Europe last summer. That's when several cities hosted Urban Camping, a multi-story steel structure that allows people to camp in areas not associated with the great outdoors. Designed by Belgian architects Import.Export Architecture, Antwerp, Belgium, Urban Camping consists of three to eight platforms that rise toward the sky, one on top of another. A tent can be pitched on each platform.

The structure is mobile and promotes "small-scale" urban camping, according to a press release from Import.Export Architecture. "[It] can be implanted in any city center that likes to experiment with this new type of camping," the release stated. "[Urban Camping] is a place where adventurous city wanderers can stay overnight, meet other campers and find a safe shelter with basic designed practical facilities."

The structure made its debut from April 24, 2009, to May 24, 2009, in Antwerp, Belgium, on the shores of the Scheldt River.

From July 25, 2009, to Aug. 1, 2009, Urban Camping was on display in Copenhagen, Denmark, to spotlight Antwerp and promote tourism in the city.

Meeting demand
The inspiration for Urban Camping stems from several phenomena, including the sight of customers waiting in line overnight for a new product release. Additionally, Import.Export Architecture was drawn to the fact that a relatively small variety of low-cost lodging options exists in many urban areas across Europe, according to a press release.

"A new interest in city traveling has sparked a rise in low-budget traveling accommodation, requiring a rethinking of urban visitor sleeping solutions," the release stated. "Existing low-budget hotels, but also contemporary youth hostels, are a limited and often poor answer to this general demand for cheap lodging in the city centers. On the other hand, campers trying to visit cultural city centers on their drifting routes often encounter camping areas located in the city's anonymous expanding outer limits."

Urban Camping also relates to "vertical staging of landscapes," as well as "interpretations [of] urban green [spaces]," according to the press release. Accordingly, Import.Export Architecture describes the structure as a sort of 3-D stacking of campgrounds and vertical growing landscape that offers an escape into, rather than from, city life. FFJ

Sources

  • Import.Export Architecture
    Antwerp, Belgium
    phone: 883/890-893
    www.iea.be
    e-mail: iea@iea.be

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