Like so many things popular in the 1980s, skateboarding has been experiencing a major resurgence. It’s also gaining respect and credibility as a sport, having been added to the Summer Olympics 2020 program, and the international competition World Skate Park Skateboarding World Championships kicked off its inaugural event October 31 in Nanjing, China. Hosted at the city’s Olympic-certified park terrain skatepark, the event is seen as a precursor to Tokyo 2020 for skaters.
While most locales are not fortunate enough to have such a high quality facility for the sport, its growing popularity has resulted in new skate parks being built in big cities and small towns around the globe. And there are a number of talented firms specializing in the typology, including French studio Constructo.
Among the Marseille-based firm’s most recent projects is this 1,500-square-metre park in Tournai, Belgium. Positioned between the Maison de la Culture and the Maison des Sports, the park was several years in the making, and completes a site dedicated to leisure pursuits, adding a public space that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
The park features two distinct elements: a street park and a flow park, which accommodates two styles of skating, as well as rollerblading and BMXers. These two perpendicular spaces wrap the Maison de la Culture and its parking lot, with an L-shaped configuration that is joined by a variety of skateable surfaces, with a ramp, rail and stairs framed by hubbas (wide concrete ledges) on either side.
Replacing a grassy esplanade in front of the sports complex, the street park also includes a range of surfaces to ride, slide, grind and jump. Constructo, which worked on the project with Belgian firm Escault Architecture, wanted to maintain as much of the natural landscape as possible. The park works around the natural topography of the site and preserves wide swaths of green on either side as well as the scattering of trees on the site. The firm added a further 10 trees, which will grow to provide shade for visitors in the summer months, and a series of natural stone benches along the outer perimeter.
Stretching out in front of the sports complex, a long strip of grass offers a comfortable place to view the action. A long bench in between offers either a place to skate or a place to sit. Two shades of precast concrete slabs were used to create a randomly patterned surface that rises and falls to form ledges, banks and other skateable forms.
Constructo also broke away from the monotone grey of most skateparks with the flow area. A zigzagging interpretation of a skate bowl, this part of the park was formed using yellow mass-coloured reinforced concrete on the emergent sections. Perfect for cruising, carving and aerial tricks, the flowpark is rimmed with steel tube coping that helps protect the transition and allows easy sliding over the edge.