Skateboarding is its own urban experience. As interactive public spaces and tactile surfaces, skate parks have slowly begun to shape the way we think about urban design. Beyond the boundary of parks themselves, skaters look at the architecture of the built environment outside of its intended purpose, and in turn, are rethinking how we gather, move around, and reimagine the future of urban life.
Skateboarding: The Latest Architecture and News
Why the Restoration of the Southbank Undercroft Is a Landmark for Both Architecture and Skateboarding
The Southbank Undercroft, which lies beneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall along the River Thames in London, has been the subject of much debate in recent years following a proposed closure and redevelopment in 2013. Long Live Southbank, an organization born out of this threat of expulsion, gave the diverse community who call the space home a voice. After 17 months of campaigning, they were successful in ensuring the Undercroft was legally protected and fully recognized as an asset of community value. Since then, the group of activists has begun another groundbreaking journey.
In partnership with Southbank Centre, Long Live Southbank recently launched a new crowdfunding campaign to restore the legendary Undercroft. The restoration project will cost £790,000 and is set to open in 2018, improving Londoners’ access to free creative spaces in the heart of the City. These types of space are becoming increasingly rare and the restoration effort reflects a desire to celebrate the authentic cultural sites that make London the vibrant landscape it is.
EFFEKT has been awarded first prize in a competition to transform a disused train shed in Esbjerg, Denmark with their proposal to transform the roundhouse-style industrial structure into a home for skating and a host of other street culture activities. Entitled Streetmekka, the design restores the industrial shed's original circular geometry, incorporating indoor facilities for transition and bowl skating, basketball courts, a street dance area, workshop areas for DJ-schools and street art as well as meeting rooms, administration offices, a cafe, kitchen, changing rooms and a large social area and reception. In the heart of the circular compound, the design features an enclosed street sport plaza and large outdoor social space.
English Heritage has awarded a Grade-II listing to "The Rom," a skatepark in Hornchurch on the outskirts of London. Built in 1978, the Rom was one of the UK's first wave of purpose-built skateparks, and probably the most complete example found in the UK today. The listing makes the Rom the first protected skatepark in Europe, and just the second in the world after Tampa's "Bro Bowl" was added to the USA’s National Register of Historic Places last year.
More on the listing decision after the break
London's Southbank Centre announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement with skateboarding group Long Live Southbank, and is dropping plans to move the famous skatepark to a new site underneath Hungerford Bridge nearby. The decision, which is ensured by a binding planning agreement with Lambeth Council, brings a close to a dispute that has lasted almost a year and a half - ever since the Southbank Centre unveiled redevelopment plans by Feilden Clegg Bradley which included the removal of the skatepark in favour of retail space in the Southbank's undercroft.
The agreement also involves both sides dropping a series of legal challenges initiated during the dispute, including the Southbank's challenge over the registration of the skatepark as an 'asset of community value,' an attempt by Long Live Southbank to have the skatepark listed as a village green, and a judicial review of Lambeth Council's decision to reject the village green application.
The Southbank Centre has announced that it is delaying its planning applicationonce again.The decision has been prompted by comments from London Mayor Boris Johnson, who last month opined that the skate park should remain in its current location. An official statement from the Southbank Centre said: "it is far from clear how the scheme might now proceed without exposing Southbank Centre to unacceptable levels of financial risk but it has committed to a final three-month search."
However, despite the three-month extension, Chairman Rick Haythornthwaite has all but admitted defeat, saying "we are under no illusions [...] we don’t yet see how we will make it work."
Read on for more about the decision
It's been almost two months since we revealed that the Southbank Centre had agreed to support a fundraising campaign by Long Live Southbank, the campaign aiming to preserve the skatepark in Southbank's undercroft and save it from the £120 million redevelopment of the site as a whole.
This was just one twist in a story that included criticism from the UK's design council CABE and from the neighboring National Theatre, a 50,000 strong petition from skateboarders, an unsuccessful attempt to have the skatepark listed as a village green, a successful attempt to have it classified as an 'asset of community value', and a delayed planning application.
So after all this controversy, what has happened in the last two months?
In yet another twist to the ongoing story of the Southbank Centre redevelopment, the Architects' Journal reports that the Southbank Centre has agreed to back a fundraising campaign to keep the famous skate park (if you missed the potential re-designs, click here), with the stipulation that a plan B be put in place in case the fundraising fails. And with at least £17 million needed to replace the revenue that the Centre would have gained by filling the undercroft with retail units, it could be time for the thousands who objected to the proposals to put their money where their mouth is. Find the full article here.
Ever since London's Southbank Centre and Feilden Clegg Bradley revealed plans for the new ‘Festival Wing' earlier this year, the plans have come under fire - and by no group more vociferous than London's skateboarders.
The original plans proposed converting the space under Hungerford Bridge, used by skateboarders for years, into a new riverside area for urban arts. In response to skateboarders' outcry, Southbank Centre has decided to alter the design of the space so that skateboarders' needs will be taken into account. The Centre commissioned Iain Borden, skater and Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, and Rich Holland, skater and architectural designer at Floda31 to prepare a draft design brief earlier this summer; now, three architectural practices with skate-space experience have responded to the brief with three potential designs.·
An expert panel of skaters, including Borden, Holland, and film-maker Winstan Whitter, will then be responsible for "selecting the architect they’d most like to work with, finalising the design brief and developing the design."
In the latest twist in an ongoing saga, the skateboarders campaigning to save the undercroft of the Southbank Centre have succeeded in a bid to list the space as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act, as reported by Architects' Journal. The listing means that any planning decision would have to take the loss to the skating community into account. Read the full article here.
The Southbank Centre and Feilden Clegg Bradley have taken their designs back to the drawing board, deciding to delay their planning application in order to resolve the mounting issues surrounding the proposal.
The designs to update the brutalist cultural centre have divided people from the start; however, the tide of opinion seems to have definitively shifted away from the design due to a sustained campaign by skateboarders (who make use of the undercroft) and now criticism from the neighboring National Theatre and the UK design council CABE.
Read more about the controversy surrounding the Southbank Centre after the break...
The saga of the Southbank Centre redevelopment in London heated up recently, after the scheme for the new 'Festival Wing' was formally submitted to Lambeth's planning department. The scheme, which has been well received by some of the architecture community, including the centre's original architects Norman Engleback and Dennis Crompton, has run afoul of the skateboarding community, which opposes the plan to infill the undercroft that has been their home for almost 40 years.
After a petition to save the skatepark garnered over 40,000 signatures, the skating community has mobilized once again to object to the planning application en masse. The campaign to save the skatepark has even garnered the attention of skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who wrote to the Southbank Centre's director of partnership and policy Mike McCart to explain that:
“It’s truly an historic feature of London street culture, and is as well known to skateboarders around the world as Big Ben or Buckingham Palace. Honestly.”
Among the extensive discussion of Feilden Clegg Bradley's scheme to redesign the Southbank Centre in London, one issue which has sometimes been ignored by the architectural media has been the proposal to relocate the skate park in the under-croft of the Queen Elizabeth Hall to a space beneath the nearby Hungerford bridge.
Unsurprisingly, this decision has sparked a petition which has collected nearly 40,000 signatures to save one of the UK's most famous skating hotspots. We’ve talked about how skaters can teach architects about understanding space before; however, in this instance I would like to examine how skaters as a (sub)cultural entity interact with the city, and how the city can cater to their needs. Though many architects are already in favor of accepting skaters, I hope to explore why the wider community tends to see skating as a problem to be solved, and what this can reveal about the proposal at the Southbank Centre.
Read on to find out more about the peculiar way skaters experience cities
We here at ArchDaily are big fans of Roman Mars' radio program 99% Invisible, and just had to share the latest show: "In and Out of Love." In it, Mars explores the changing face of Philadelphia's JFK Plaza (more commonly known as LOVE Park), why its Modernist characteristics made it perfect for skateboarding (although city officials certainly didn't feel that way), and why Le Corbusier truly is the patron saint of skateboarders.
And, if you like this, check out Why Skateboarding Matters to Architecture, and follow the jump for some very cool, very innovative skate-friendly homes, stores, and parks...
Read more about this episode at 99% Invisible.
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.”