Skaters have always been more sensitive to architectural form than your average city-dweller. Finally it appears that architects are picking up on skaters’ desires and creating forms that are intentionally interactive. It has been no secret to urban planners that successful public spaces require public participation, and few groups are more participatory than skateboarders. Architects are learning that by creating forms that attract skaters they can immediately activate a space like never before. Wired Magazine recently covered this change of thinking in their December issue which you can read online here:
For years, architects have gone to great lengths to protect their buildings from marauding skaters. But as aesthetic trends move toward folded planes that transition seamlessly from wall to ceiling and back to wall, designers have been looking to their former adversaries for a lesson in flow.
“We have this fascination with buildings becoming topography,” says Alejandro Zaera-Polo, a partner at London’s Foreign Office Architects, “and skateboarders have that physical experience.” So for a park in Barcelona, his firm extended paving stones up the sides of small hills—to shield vegetation from salty sea breezes. At least that’s what it told city officials. But skaters got the message. The resulting quarter-pipe landed on the March 2006 cover of Transworld Skateboarding.
Architect Zaha Hadid shares the love. She wanted her Phaeno Science Center in Germany to be an all-inclusive venue for pedestrians and skateboarders alike. Liability issues prevented skate-park designation—though you’d never guess it from the YouTube videos of pro skaters “visiting” the museum. “We design spaces that are flowing and continuous, and—just by coincidence—skateboarders look for that kind of continuity,” Dillon Lin, an architect (and skater) at Hadid’s firm, says with a wink.