Unlike the bright, overly colorful climbing walls from 30 years ago, at OnSite we focus on designing walls that feel like pieces of well-crafted furniture. All of our walls are made of Baltic birch plywood (a common material in furniture building), and we never hide the natural beauty of the wood grain. We use only wood stain and translucent textures to give our walls their distinctly pure look and feel.
We work with our clients to custom-build a piece that will physically and aesthetically fit in their space. That means we have to consider all kinds of complex interactions for each project: how a wall takes architectural cues from the vibe of the client’s space, how we balance the look of a wall with the experience of climbing it, and how the shape of our wall affects the user flow around it.
We use our collective experience in engineering, design, and rock climbing to make sure our walls bring out the best in every space. Some of our most challenging and interesting work has happened in locations that might seem too small for a climbing wall. By using our holistic, client-centered approach, we are able to play with all of the elements of the space until we achieve a perfect fit.
We’ve installed walls that flow together with cafes, yoga studios, fitness centers, retail spaces, and even corporate lobbies—all with the goal of creating something emotionally inspiring that encourages occupants to get active and bond with the people around them. While our walls are great to climb, that’s not our only goal: We want to create a space that feels great to inhabit.
With many architects and interior designers looking for ways to encourage healthy habits and community within their buildings, rock climbing walls are a perfect solution. Montreal-based OnSite is committed to building custom climbing walls that fit seamlessly into client spaces, allowing building designers to incorporate the benefits of climbing walls in often unexpected locations. Francis Larose, cofounder and CEO of OnSite, is passionate about designing walls that feel less like fun zones and more like integrated parts of beautiful spaces. In this column he explains the process and benefits of installing OnSite’s custom indoor rock climbing walls.