Skatepark design – do’s and don’ts

Don’t • Allow the loudest voices to influence the project (they are rarely representative)

looking for solutions to serve an existing group, which is made up purely of those stereotypical users, but instead let skatepark designers use their experience and skills to serve young people and the wider community. As we know, a large percentage of young

people currently reject organised and competitive sports. Many of these youngsters are naturally attracted to alternative such as skateboarding which is not organised or competitive. But half of them do not fit the stereotypical mould and are therefore put off by the traditional designs of skateparks and the high barrier to entry. Groups like Girl Skate UK are doing some great work, but essentially they are trying to solve the problem after it has been created. At Freestyle, we believe it’s our job to solve

the problem at the project and design stage. If we are allowed to create more beautiful, more architectural and less traditional skate spaces we

will attract many more of those youngsters and encourage them to cross from one alternative sport into another. Looking at the gender problem alone, if we could make skate spaces more attractive to females we could almost double the number of participants in one stroke. There’s no question that a traditional concrete skatepark is designing for less than half of the population.

a chance to shine Skate spaces offer a world of benefits if they are designed well. Traditional skateparks tend to be placed round the corner out of the way and designed without thought of the bigger picture. This means that users rarely interact with the rest of the community so the benefits are limited. However, these spaces give the users a chance to practice and show what they are good at. If this is done in a prominent and beautiful space that is valued by the rest of the community, this can be a huge boost to their confidence. For many young people who feel excluded or ignored by the community these spaces represent a chance to feel valued and to enter the centre of public life. 25

• Make assumptions about what is required; let a professional firm do it for you

• Start a user group yourselves. Not only is it less likely to be drowned by the loudest voices, but the park will last over 25 years and should be designed to serve more than the current users

Do • Interview all the likely firms, there aren’t that many in the alternative sports world

• Talk to each one and find the one who shares your values and aspirations

• Hire your chosen firm early and before any design or consultation work has begun

• Make sure you hire a firm who can see the bigger picture otherwise they will only think as wide as their own skills and catalogue

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