Best 10 Parks I didn't Design
Skate park design is a thankless task - things are usually too small, too big, not enough, too much, no vert the list goes on and on.
Darren White aka Daggers has been designing and skating parks for longer than most of you have been skating and chances are has had a hand in the design of your local and currenlty heads his own design company Baseplate. We have been lucky enough to corner Daggers and ask him to provide us list of the top parks from his unique perspecitve the only proviso was that they couldn/t be any he has worked on. So take it away Daggers.
I came up with this list of parks because they have changed the way I view skateparks and in turn how I design them. Funnily enough I haven’t skated any of them, but they are inspiring and amazing in their own right and continue to expand the choice we now have of what to skate. Don’t like bowls? Skate the plaza. Don’t like Plazas? Skate the bowl. Don’t like bowls or plazas? Skate the hybrid combo parks. Don’t like those? Get some DIY.
Endless opportunities from a worldwide force of skatepark designers and builders.
So hard to choose a park from Evergreen. Windell’s is pretty much the mega playground of skateable stuff, I love the look of Milliken and this one shows Stevensville. These guys have looked at how a flow park can be twisted, turned, combined and separated to create an amazing combination of elements. Getting their own ‘branding’ using different coloured paint on the grindable edges makes the parks not only good from a safety point of view (think OH&S from Council and inexperienced skaters - trip hazards, fall heights, etc.) it makes them visually impressive for a really small cost. Couple of buckets of paint and the park looks even more amazing than the flowy goodness they’ve already created.
Janne Saario used his skills as a professional skateboarder and Landscape Architect to create this incredible skate plaza. Combining brick pavers, granite ledges, pre cast concrete and free form concrete with an amazing array of skate obstacles makes this a wonderland for skaters. That small strip of green you see? While it creates a cool gap for skating it's also part of his lawn corridor for animals – wow!
A bold skatepark between two buildings in the middle of Paris… Location, location, location. I really like the work Constructo does and even though this is probably their smallest skatepark, it dramatically changes the way city’s view skateparks or skate spots in central locations.
DC/MONSTER VERT RAMP
Just an ever evolving beast of a vert ramp that is hard to beat for design and function – so many options. Watching anyone skate this ramp is a pleasure.
This park by Daniel Yabar was done to recreate a local skate spot that has become a bust. The textures and materials used add a completely different dimension to the way you would feel skating this park. If it was all plain grey concrete it would function pretty much the same, but the sounds and vibrations you get when you roll over the big pavers or those small ones adds another level to the experience. When you break the design down, the obstacles cover your basic staples and some crazy combinations are introduced with the clever use of white granite blocks.
This snake fun is crazy. So big and flowy, you could have so much fun just carving around not even doing any tricks – speed and skateboarding! It’s also attached to the other stages of Lincoln City Skatepark that are amazing by themselves. Dreamland keeps giving back to this park and it shows.
It was hard to pick a favourite from Concreatures but I think Sibbarp captures the best bits of what they do. Coping, noping, Viking Blocks, kerb tops, roll tops, lots of moguls, a couple of high elements, but most of it’s under 4ft. A big focus on flow, function and fun. Lomma, Norrkoping and Oxie were on the short list too. I mean, who else puts coping blocks on sideways?? Rad.
Great looking skatepark from Convic with a finish to match. The elements are in perfect proportion, good flow, solid design aesthetic, the colour palette is classic and a mixed use of materials make this a winner.
California Skateparks have developed their own look and feel, especially with their Street League inspired designs. While the pure enormity and variety at Vans Huntington Beach makes it one of their best, I think this one has a bigger appeal and potentially more impact on skatepark design around the world. It’s about 350m2 (which is your typical small sized skatepark) and it has so many different obstacles and options that don’t compromise flow or function. They haven’t added in a small open bowl section or tried to mix in another style of skating to satisfy everyone – they’ve kept it pure to what it is. A street skaters (small) dream park right here.
Beautiful exposed structural timber bowl and vert ramp, super clean finish to match the zero emissions building. Impressive design and construction from Glifberg+Lykke and IOU ramps.
COLOGNE SKATE PLAZA
Plazas for me are all about space. There is no point having 50 obstacles if you don’t have enough space to push between them. LESS IS MORE. It means you can focus on making sure each element is perfect for its intended function. These types of skateparks also challenge the typical thoughts on construction budgets. There is no way flat space costs as much as your typical skatepark build; which means more space for your dollars. In this instance the use of high quality materials makes it not just a great skatepark, but a great public space.
Interesting use of design elements to create skateable obstacles and spaces while considering the surrounding environment that it sits in. Yes, a pretty basic principle in Landscape Architecture, but not one that was widely used in skatepark design prior to this being built.
The Skate Park of Tampa has been around for so long and I love how they’ve always changed things as the years progressed (they’re up to 23 rebuilds!!!). I don’t think they can ever change the roll in bank though - that would be sacrilege! Even writing that brings memories of Penny, Koston and Duren pumping down that thing and melting minds. They have the respect of the skateboard community and their evolving skatepark design (inside and out) make them forever relevant. Keep on keeping on.
Taking an abandoned roller hockey space and making it into a fantastic community skatepark with a diverse range of obstacles is what this project is all about. I can only imagine there was a countless number of volunteer hours poured into making this a reality and it shows what you can achieve with grit and determination.
The mother of all DIY’s and the one that sparked the modern revolution in skatepark design and construction.
FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
This well-known quote has always resonated with me, Wikipedia quotes it as “a principle associated with modernist architecture and industrial design in the 20th century. The principle is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose”. While materials, colours, paint, etc are a key factor in what make all these skateparks stand out – I always try to assess the function of the skatepark as if it was plain grey concrete. No bells, no whistles, just pure function. All of these skateparks stand up to this test and it should be how we measure the success of every skatepark.
Of course, like skateboarding, there is no “best” skatepark. The perfect skatepark doesn’t exist; but it doesn’t stop everyone from trying to create it. That’s where the drive, determination and passion from all the skatepark designers around the world comes into play. It’s what keeps us improving on each park we design. For me, in essence, the last skatepark I designed is the culmination of learning from all the skateparks I’ve designed before it.