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Why Skateboarding Matters to Architecture

Studiometro's Bastard Store, a cinema converted into office space, showroom, and skateboarding bowl.
Studiometro's Bastard Store, a cinema converted into office space, showroom, and skateboarding bowl.

Every June 21st since 2003, Go Skateboarding Day has rallied skateboarders around the globe – in skateparks and public plazas, downtown nooks and parking lots – to grind, ollie, and kickflip it with the best of them. If I didn’t lose you at “ollie,” you’re probably wondering: what the heck does this have to do with architecture? Well, I could talk about the architectural challenge that a skate park, as an interactive public space with specific topological requisites and social implications, offers architects. I could show you some cool testaments to the fact, such as the Architecture for Humanity-sponsored projects in Afghanistan and Manhattan, opening today. But, rather selfishly, I’m more interested in what skateboarding has to offer us beyond skateparks. A skater, unlike your typical pedestrian, experiences space just as intensely and consciously as an architect himself, albeit in a different way. He/she is alive to the possibility of space, not in its totality, as an architect would be, but as a collection of tactile surfaces to be jumped on, grinded, and conquered. The skater offers a revolutionary perspective for the architect: one that allows you to see  buildings beyond what they were intended to be, to see (and design) buildings as “building blocks for the open minded.”