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UW Challenge Course
Madison, Wisconsin

The Adventure Learning Program (ALP) at the University of Wisconsin needs a new facility for their teambuilding and ropes course. Based on principles of experiential education, the Challenge Course serves and is staffed by University students and gives participants opportunities to build trust in others and confidence in themselves through a series of ropes courses that offer varying levels of challenge and perceived risk.

ALP developed a simple, but unusual program: to build green, and a building type that would not only be the perfect container for their activities, but also provide an architectural character indigenous to Wisconsin-- a Round Barn.

Currently in the early stages of conceptual design, the proposed building offers congregating space for a circle of 80 to 100 people, and an exciting interior volume of dividable open space for whatever rope challenge they can dream up. Along with elements from traditional barns, the interior is daylit from a large clerestory as well as dormer windows. Sizeable barn doors at ground level open up to provide free circulation to outdoor patios, and naturally ventilate the building’s large volume. Circular stairways wind up through tall silos, where platforms connect to rigging for outdoor courses, some 30 feet in the air. These platforms will also be wheelchair acessible just like the rest of the facility, and rope hoists will be designed to lift participants who use wheelchairs up through the center of the spiral stair to join others at the top.

Above and Below: Exterior and interior concept renderings of the 'round barn' for the UW ALP Challenge Course.