Competing visions for a new £1 million skatepark as part of controversial plans to overhaul the Southbank Centre have been unveiled
The three options by SNE, Rich Architecture and 42 Architects demonstrate how the skate boarding area could be made 10 per cent larger by moving it 120 metres from its current home.
The rival schemes have been unveiled despite the Thamesside arts centre agreeing to rethink its £120 million overhaul amid pressure from CABE, the National Theatre and skateboarders. The British Film Institute became the latest neighbour to raise concern this week.
The announcement comes just days before an open forum later this month where Southbank directors hope to reach agreement with opponents to the scheme.
The proposal to relocate the historic skate park from beneath the Brutalist Queen Elizabeth Hall to nearby Hungerford Bridge has been one of the most contentious elements of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ redevelopment vision.
More than 60,000 signatories have backed a petition started by skateboarders campaigning against the relocation.
Two Southbank skateboarding experts – Bartlett professor Iain Borden and Floda 31 architectural designer Rich Holland – were chosen to prepare a design brief for the site.
The duo invited three practices with previous skate park experience to work up schemes.
The brief was to draw on the existing space and develop schemes which are ‘urban and gritty’, avoid looking purpose-built and are ‘highly visible’ to the public.
A selection panel – including Borden, Holland and film maker Winstan Whitter – is expected to feature representatives from the Southbank skateboarding community.
Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly said: ‘These architects’ designs show what a great public urban space this could be.
‘We want skating and other urban arts to continue to flourish at Southbank Centre and we hope these proposals show we’re committed to a permanent, riverside skate space right next to the Royal Festival Hall.
‘We also understand that community sites like these are enormously enhanced by organic development through the use and input of the users themselves, which is why I emphasise that these designs are not set in stone.
‘We welcome input from the skateboarders who regularly use the undercroft and any other skaters, graffiti writers or BMXers who want to be involved in helping develop the design.’
Holland said: ‘All the architects have responded really well to the brief and came up with some fantastic proposals for creating a new urban space under Hungerford Bridge.
‘The kind of features which skateboarders enjoy – ledges, steps, banks, blocks – are all there, but unlike in a conventional skatepark or skateplaza they have not been explicitly designed solely for skateboarding.’
Southbank skatepark: The rival schemes
The design by 42 Architects proposes the replacement of the existing ramp with a new ramp in the North East corner of the site and a significant flat-floor space bounded by various skateable banks, walls, ledges and steps. These create the possibility of a varied set of routes, movements and activities across the site. The design is further articulated by the angularity and juxtaposition of elements and by the inclusion of cracks across the flat floor. A demountable/accessible roof is proposed and the overall appearance is of a complex, yet coherent set of spaces with a strong atmospheric quality.
SNE Architects’ design proposes the replacement of the existing ramp by a new ramp in the North East corner of the site. The rest of the site accommodates a large flat floor space bounded by various skateable banks, walls, ledges and steps, which create the possibility of a varied set of routes, movements and activities across the site. No roof is proposed – rain and water ingress is dealt with by a combination of bespoke guttering and under-floor heating. The overall appearance is minimal yet subtle.
Rich Architecture’s design proposes the retention of the existing ramp, which is partially cut underneath to provide access and visibility towards the North End. The rest of the site accommodates a large flat floor space, which can be inhabited by temporary skateable elements, bounded by a limited number of skateable banks, walls, ledges and steps. No roof is proposed – rain is dealt with by bespoke guttering. The overall appearance is of a ‘light touch’ approach, largely retaining the existing space in an as-found condition.
Rival Southbank skatepark proposals revealed