A group of types is known as a typology. This skatepark typology outlines different types of skateparks in the same language that park planners use to define ordinary city parks. Each type of skatepark can work alone or across a region to establish a skatepark system. Advocates will find it useful to describe skateparks according to their type more useful than simply calling any skate space a “skatepark.” Being more specific with the TYPE of skatepark you intend to have built will mitigate confusion and position you as the local skatepark expert.
There are two typologies for skateparks. One typology organizes skateparks by size. The other organizes them by style of terrain. The two can be paired up to create a very specific notion of what you intend to communicate.
Skateparks by Size
Skate Dot: The Skate Dot is the smallest skateable space possible. Dots are always a single structure and capitalize on existing infrastructure—usually a sidewalk or paved open space. A trash receptacle should be available nearby. Skate Dots can support 3 to 5 concurrent users, one at a time.
Skate Spot: Skate Spots are slightly larger than Dots—generally between 2,500 to 5,000 square feet and feature a small number of structures arranged so that the skater may move from one structure to the next in a single run. In addition to a trash receptacle, Skate Spots benefit from a nearby water fountain and bench seating. Skate Spots can support 5 to 8 users, one at a time.
Neighborhood Skatepark: A majority of skateparks in the United States can be considered Neighborhood Skateparks. They are between 6,000 to 10,000 square feet and feature a diverse arrangement of structures. Neighborhood skateparks have delineated edges so that it’s clear where the skatepark begins. (Progressive skatepark design is moving away clear skatepark borders, however.) In addition to trash cans, water and seating, neighborhood skateparks benefit from nearby parking…though most users will skate to the park. Available restrooms—even if seasonal—are recommended. Neighborhood skateparks can support dozens of users with up to 6 skating simultaneously depending on the size and design.
Regional Skatepark: Regional Skateparks are the largest parks, (25,000 square feet or more), and provide a full spectrum of opportunities. Regional skateparks often have “neighborhoods” of design intents. For example, a portion of the park may be devoted to street terrain while another to bowls. Regional parks are intended to be the flagship skatepark of a region; the one everyone talks about. Regional parks should only be designed and constructed by the nation’s most credible skatepark companies. The park may be appropriate for special skateboarding events and should be prepared for a large number of visitors. Restrooms, lights, bleacher seating, ample parking, and the support for possible concession sales should all be developed with the skatepark. Regional skateparks have high capacities with enough space for more than a dozen simultaneous users.
Relative comparisons of different skatepark size types:
Skateparks by Style
Skateable Art: Skateable Art is a creative structure that is designed and built specifically to be “skateboarding friendly.” Most skateable art features forms that are compelling to a broader pedestrian audience. In some cases the public may be unaware that the form is intended to attract skateboarders. Skateable art is usually commissioned specifically for a site though some companies offer these pieces as catalog products.
Some examples of skateable art:
Street Plaza: Street Plazas are skateparks designed to mimic the type of structures found in an urban environment. “Street skating” is the term used to describe aficionados of this style of structure. Street plazas are characterized by ledges, stairs, and railing. Modern street plazas strive to create a space that does not resemble a “traditional” skatepark by incorporating structural and cosmetic enhancements such as dyed concrete, atypical textures (imprint stamps) or materials (brick or natural stone), as well as integrating small green spaces into the skate space. As most skateboarders today identify as street skaters, most modern parks employ street elements in their designs.
Some examples of street terrain:
Halfpipes, Bowls and Pools (Transition): Transition parks are what most non-skating adults imagine when they think of a “skatepark.” These parks feature curvilinear forms of smooth, undulating concrete. While this style of park is not as popular as its street plaza sibling, most skaters are not discriminating and enjoy terrain diversity. Older skaters—often those returning to skateboarding as adults looking for recreation and exercise—will be more interested in this type of terrain. It is generally less strenuous and lower impact than street skating, (though the falls are usually more dramatic).
Some examples of transition terrain:
Hybrid Parks: Hybrid parks is term for a design that fuses street and transition elements together. Hybrid parks have become more popular recently as skateboarders push to expand their capabilities. For several years a need for more street terrain created tension in the skatepark advocacy community as adult skaters tended to promote transition parks while the younger, less involved skaters were being ticketed for skating in inappropriate areas. This schism within skateboarding is quickly healing as modern skaters avoid developing allegiances to one style or the other.
Some examples of hybrid terrain: