Urban street style at the Electoral Palace

by Ingo Naschold, DSGN-concepts

Urban street style at the Electoral Palace

Today, the planning of large skateparks involves no longer simply installing elements next to one another but intensive co-operation between landscape architects and specialist planners. However, this doesn’t mean that really all parties involved are “on board”. The participation and involvement of the local skate and/ or BMX scene is key to the design and sustainable use of the skatepark. The most effective form of involvement is to hold a planning workshop with the young people, as it has been the case in Koblenz.

“Koblenz has a long-standing tradition of involving children and young people in the town planning, which has been co-ordinated by the Koblenz Kinder- und Jugendb├╝ro (Office of Children and Youth Affairs) for ten years - this also held for the Federal Horticultural Show and the play areas to be planned. For quite some time now, I have been in contact with several skaters and bikers, who had demanded better opportunities to practise their sport at one of the previous Koblenz Youth Forums (meetings between young people on the one hand and politicians and administrative officials on the other hand to address young people’s concerns and meet their needs with the help of adult mentors). I invited these and we held a moderated workshop on the premises of the BUGA GmbH, in the course of which Mr Naschold’s designs and drafts were thoroughly discussed in the presence of BUGA staff. The skaters and bikers had their own ideas and, of course, different wishes, needs and requirements,” Brigitte Selugga-Reinschenk, Koblenz Kinder- und Jugendb├╝ro, sums up.

However, how to design a skatepark on the Schlossplatz (Palace Square) in front of the Electoral Palace in Koblenz within the framework of the 2011 Federal Horticultural Show? Faced with this task, DSGN concepts, a planning office specializing in skateparks, designed a modern skatepark in co-operation with the RMP office and the local scene.

To ensure that the skatepark blends in with the surroundings of the palace grounds, it was designed using urban street style elements and features bank ramps, stairs with rails and curbs (seating blocks) coming in different lengths and arrangements. The skatepark was lowered to provide an unhampered view of the Electoral Palace and protrudes no more than one seating block vertically, which also benefits spectators at events. On a level with it, the skate park is edged with another seating block to mark off the activities from the adjoining path. The elements are arranged in a grid pattern and divided into three parallel lines, which can be ridden in one “line” depending on the intensity of use. The user thus doesn’t have to dismount the board to take the next line. What matters in skateboarding is not just the single trick but the flow from one trick to the next. Particular attention must be paid to the fact that skateboarders and BMX riders take different stances on their respective sports equipment. In skateboarding, at times you stand with your right foot forward (goofy stance), at times you lead with your left foot (regular stance). Besides, you can go up and down obstacles (skate elements) in different ways. Skating back and forth, and at different angles. These aspects are decisive and govern the size, arrangement and choice of elements.

After the first design draft, local BMX riders were also involved in the planning and the draft was rechecked and revised. A typical element of a BMX course is the jump box, consisting of a transition and a bank. However, as the overall concept rather provides for urban design features, all parties agreed on designing both sides as banks. As a result, there is a bigger jump for BMX riders, which can likewise be intensively used by skateboarders. The height, however, was a compromise, for BMX riders actually need larger ramps due to the sheer size of their sports equipment. Urban street style, however, does not focus on high elements, but rather on a fancy combination of various miniature elements, which cater to all users, styles and skill levels.

The skatepark was built and designed by the Concrete Sportanlagen company using prefabricated components. The company opted for prefabricated components because of their quality and longevity and built the skatepark as “one” prefabricated unit. All elements have an edge protection made from hot-dip galvanized steel to prevent the elements from being damaged due to intensive use by skaters performing grinds or slides. The flats, on which you can skate in straight lines among the elements, are the only features that were hand-made by a specialist company. The result is a modern, all-concrete skatepark, which deliberately goes without asphalt. In the manufacture of the flats, special attention was paid to ensuring that the surfaces are perfectly smooth and not too slippery. The flats’ ride characteristics for a large part account for the quality and acceptance of a skatepark. A goal-oriented concept and professional planning thus have a lasting effect on the use of a skatepark.

The skatepark on the 2011 BUGA site in Koblenz is “alive”, intensively used and goes down very well with young people. It has become a draw for skateboarders, BMX riders and also in-line skaters in the area and attracts skate tourists from other areas to Koblenz. On 20 August, the “BUGA Jam” will be held, attended by both professional and amateur BMX riders to compete against one another. Everybody will come out for the “Best Trick Contest” to show who can perform the most spectacular trick of the day: “Heaven is a half-pipe”.

Photos: B. Selugga-Reinschenk, I. Naschold, Bundesgartenschau Koblenz 2011 GmbH

 

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