How Skaters Are Reclaiming the World’s Forgotten Spaces | Taking back the city
Skateboarding and its take on a architecture is a fascination of ours. Here’s a good one on how skaters are taking over forgotten spaces. Much like artists, skaters are the original gentrifiers for better or worse.
“Over the last 10 years you’ve seen DIY become a mainstream part of skate culture,” says Iain Borden, Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at the Bartlett School of Architecture. “The thing that’s bizarre about DIY is that it has occurred at exactly the same time as all these skateparks are being built. So you would think that as there are more and more skateparks being built, that would be exactly the time when skaters wouldn’t bother to build their own skateparks.”
But exactly the opposite has been the case. Despite councils increasingly building more – and better – skateparks, there’s been a surge in skaters across the globe taking concrete, wood and steel to make the cities wastelands into their own DIY spots. While places like Burnside in Portland provide the inspirational blueprint for what a DIY can become, skaters are pushing the boundaries and creating skate spots outside the realms of government, in areas everyone else has abandoned.
Tom Bell says this new culture of DIY comes down to ownership. “When you put time and effort and love into making something, you have a connection with it,” he explains. “When I skate on the objects that I’ve built, I feel totally comfortable on them.” It is not simply what you create, but the process and act of creating it. In coming together skaters are able to build a sense of community and shared identity that they project onto the space that they build, creating a place which they as a community own.