Thursday, 17 November 2011


Skateboarding generally presents a major dilemma with city councillors throughout the world. Here in Aberdeen we know all too well of how they react to skateboarding as an activity within the built environment. Taking Broad Street as an example, we have seen incongruous anti-skate devices being installed at this once well known skate spot, putting an end to skateboarding in this so called public space... "You have a skatepark now, why don't you go there?" A typical reaction of someone that is antagonistic towards us 'urban nomads'.

The same case is apparent in this extremely interesting documentary entitled 'Skateboarding VS Architecture: A Study of Public Space and Materiality in Auckland City'. I strongly recommend you sit back with a brew and give this a watch, it clearly gives an insight to how skateboarding is progressing in terms of incorporating itself with architecture for the good and the bad.


Colin said...

The last sentence sums it up pretty good.

Anonymous said...

I wonder whether all this raising public awareness about skateboarding just gives the tools to public to make it more difficult for the skateboarder. I can't really imagine a situation where the general public would not consider it a problem. Maybe its more about educating skateboarders in the ways of diy and de-skatestoping.

Food for thought.

kaplank kapow said...

I'm pretty sure the public are already aware of street skateboarding, I mean it's been around since the 1980's after all...

In terms of the public gaining tools, surely they will learn that skateboarders aren't just moshers that hang about wearing baggy clothes, tagging on walls and only listen to hip hop... a typical stereotype!

In the words of Ed Bacon "Skateboarders are at the cutting edge of a new perception of life for the young".

A collaboration with the public and city planners is in my eyes a good start to making things work. Skateboarding works like this in many public/semi-public spaces throughout the world.

Skateboarders know too well of DIY, most of them are just too lazy to make it happen (also this is a style of skateboarding in it's own category), de-skate stopping surly only makes the situation worse!

I'm full up ;)

Mike said...

Skateboard Island. Kaplank Kaplonia. Callum Barrack O' Bamma as president. Job done. But then there would be a war with the roller blade island where Barrack insisted everyone must skateboard. Millions die. Sad face.

Callum said...

You wouldn't be invited. Sad face, NOT!

Mike said...

Not a very mature response for a president of a fictional skateboard island.....Besides I'm starting beardy island, thats where the party's at!

RichieMac said...

It's more about educating skateboarders making them realise that the world isn't against them yet does not revolve around them.
Replace skateboarding with ANY other sport (it is a sport) in this argument and it seems ludacris.
Architecture does not, and should not, be tailored towards skateboarding just like it should not be tailored towards football, freestyle frisbee, volleyball, baseball, basketball, rugby, tennis etc etc etc.

Callum said...

You have just reeled off a list of sports that either take place on a pitch or court... really that was a bad comparison.

The fact is skateboarding is an activity that takes place on the streets, it's not subdued to an enclosed environment, and shouldn't have to be.

Architecture doesn't need to be tailored towards skateboarding, although it is whether you like it or not, for the good and the bad!

If anti-skate devices are incorporated into the building/space at design stage then I'm sure aesthetically and physically it would work. Generally anti-skate devices are an afterthought which are aesthetically hideous, and make architecture look bad.

As an example for where skateboarding is tailored into architecture, think about Zaha Hadid's recent Transport Museum in Glasgow. Skateboarding was thought about at design stage and therefore metal edging was incorporated into the ledges allowing for skateboarding to take place.

Edmund Bacon – “I want to talk to the skateboarders you really are the revolutionary in thought and culture. You should be proud of the resistance you have created and you must stick with it. You must not let the ‘stick in the mud’ older people prevent your continuing with a great, great process that you have initiated”.

Ross said...

I guess skateboarding could be seen as a sport when viewed from the outside but when you look at it more critically you will find very few similarities. It has no rules, no referees, no coaches and no teams. For most skateboarding is a lifestyle rather than a sport and has opened doors to all sorts of other arts such as photography, acting, filmmaking, and design.
Architecture has no choice in whether or not it should be tailored towards skateboarding. As you know skateboarders use the urban environment in an unusual manor causing clashes between themselves and others on a physical and political level. This leaves architects/urban planners/councils with no other choice but to “tailor” architecture in a negative or positive way. The real argument is whether you carry on adding horrible knobs of metal (see broad street post above) in an attempt to halt the ‘problem’ or embrace the activity from the beginning of the design process realising that skateboarding in the streets will never stop.
“critics can no more ask skaters that they confine their activity to skate parks than they can instruct Picasso, ‘paint this way!’ Patrons and other supporters are no more entitled to direct artists simply because they provide space or materials for their work.” T. Colberg.

RichieMac said...

I was saying those sports because they are sports that typically skateboarders shy away from being compared too.
So to draw on those comparisons i was hoping to emphasise my opinion that i feel skateboarders feeling entitled to having buildings tailored to their sport is ridiculous.
Even if you do argue that "Architecture has no choice in whether or not it should be tailored towards skateboarding" - which sounds like underhand bullying on a multi million pound scale (enforcing companies to spend extra time and money on their building plans to either embrace or fight off skateboarders in a way that will keep the users of said building happy)

I could have said BMXing, rollerblading, scootering, parkour, trials biking, street motor bike trials riding(?) the list of sports that go on out with the confides of rules and regulations goes on and on so we can all stop crying about how "no one understands *insert urban sport*"
There may not be referees etc, but there are still competitions and people still judge you on your execution, stance, style and so one - much like gymnastics. So let's not get into the "it's a lifestyle not a sport" argument - because it is a sport.

I agree with you Callum that skate stoppers are ugly and unfortunately it is the case now that architects need to consider how to deter skateboarders from damaging their buildings before it's even built.

But that's a sad state of affairs to get into and i disagree with the sense of entitlement that a lot of skateboarders have when it comes to this sort of thing.

There's a big world out their and some people are oblivious to skateboarding (even if it has "been around since the 80's) because they've spent their whole life in an office building chasing dreams - in the same way i am oblivious to some peoples fascination with Anime (and it's been around for decades).

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah *insert thought provoking quote from football pioneer about how football isn't confined to the streets* etc.

Ross said...

Yeah the X-Games is a sport, and I love it when Rob Dyrdek hands out ten points for Shecklers robotic 8 bolt kickflip from ‘mass produced ramp A’ to’ mass produced ramp B’, but we’re talking about street skateboarding here and fair enough, you may not see it as art, but isn’t art judged on those same levels of “execution, style and so on...” that you mentioned above Richie.

Street skateboarding is part of the modern city environment and has no intention of “bullying” anyone; although I quite like the idea of a spotty teenager having the ability to force a corporation into spending millions.

Much like the sun, wind direction, etc affected the design of early architecture; contemporary constraints or possibilities are placed on architects today, like fire regulations, access, health and... skateboarding.

You seem against the argument that “architecture needs to be tailored towards skateboarding” but then go on to say that “architects need to consider how to deter skateboarders from damaging their buildings before it's even built.” Considering the contemporary issues mentioned before like access is hardly a “sad state of affairs”, it’s real life. I’m not saying that every building or public space out there has to provide something positive for the activity, but it exists and has to be thought about it.

Cities at the forefront of urban planning like New York, London and Copenhagen are coming to the realisation that skateboarding is not a “sport” that can be contained and are addressing skate-related issues in public space alongside the needs of everyone else. It’s not a me, me, me, cry, cry, cry thing. It’s a ‘let’s work together to create the most vibrant, diverse well-used space we can’ thing.

David said...

Defining whether or not skating is an art, sport or lifestyle isn’t really the discussion here is it? I hope not. With a little thought, we can see it’s definitely all three.

It’s a different negotiation that is identified by this post. Is it right to prevent skating in a public space? The video highlights one yes. And the comments highlight the second yes. It would be ignorant to disregard the abundant nos.

So, to the handsome dark haired lad at 2 minutes 48: If it’s an expensive stone or marble or has some inherent value etc., it is nescient to reason that ‘you kinda need to give it a good shred’. Corporations will rarely be burdened with these costs; the sacrifice comes from our councils and at the cost of another worthy service.

To the urban nomads: You know well that public spaces are not non-specific. The public realm is zoned, and certain areas have given functions.
The area in front of St Nicholas House is the entrance area to a municipal building. It is the zone which welcomes staff and the public to the city councils main offices and introduces the public to the site where they will negotiate services. Additionally it is a waiting area and bus stop. Broad Street has been de-skated appropriately.
So as a nomad, it is your self-defined role to move on to a new ground when the previous pasture no longer yields.

And now my ignorance might tell. I’m not a skater and I’m not yet satisfied that I’m informed in the skate-ability of Aberdeen. Aberdeen falls short to the pedestrian and the cyclist, I know, so I’ll be unsurprised to learn that this applies to skating too. If skate stopping is not protecting a provision of function or protecting valuable urban landscaping then it is wrong; it is a senseless prohibition.

Wilkie said...

Street skating, for me, is finding something that wasn't originally designed to be skated and skating it. Dont get me wrong, if someone was to sort out a building thats cool to skate id skate it but boards are transport from spot to spot. Sometimes you have a better roll just moving on to another spot.

Skatestoppers are ugly and the money would be spent better elsewhere. These can also have a knock on effect to local business, a bit extreme of an example but when there twenty folk in the summer skating they need fluid and munchies.

Building or designing specific things that are there to deter folk from skating is just going to make us more devious

punkass said...