What makes a great "skate spot"? Smooth surfaces, sweet inclines, and such bonus features like ledges, steps, rails, and transitions help. Now, skateboarders, being a notoriously inventive and industrious bunch, could have fun in any parking lot with a curb. But built environments that push skateboarders to new feats of daring offer more options than just a flat surface to roll on.
Modernist architecture, for example, with its embrace of concrete, marble, and granite, has proved a great boon to the sport. Two of the most famous skate spots in history—the Embarcadero in San Francisco and Love Park in Philadelphia—were built as public plazas in the Modernist style. The Embarcadero’s Gonz Gap, created by a gigantic concrete wave, and Love Park's low granite benches helped transform these spaces into, to paraphrase Le Corbusier, "machines" for skating.
Then there's the skate park, an area specifically dedicated to the pursuit of skateboarding, with bowls, hips, ledges, and even complete tubes. These can either be DIY projects built by skateboarders themselves, or projects undertaken by municipalities and architects to meet the demand of their skateboarding constituency. One skate park in Denmark even helps prevent flooding—rad!
Below is a roundup of the skate parks, plazas, and even buildings where we would most like to sk8!
J. MAYER H.
Transition, transition, transition, and smooth concrete everywhere. We can't believe this wasn't built with skateboarding in mind!
What appears to be a video game board from Tony Hawk is actually a sports center in Croatia.
Best place in the world to work? Possibly. A converted cinema that houses the flagship store as well as offices for the design team for Italian skateboard clothing line bastard. The cherry on top: a huge, wooden bowl above it all.
Memorial of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla
Mellow transition, benches, and a nice long rail.
Architect-designed skatepark in consultation with local schools
Ashbridges Bay Skate Plaza
Jim Barnum and Spectrum Skateparks
Sculptural skate park with some pretty far-out obstacles.
Francois Perrin/Air Architecture and Gil Lebon Delapointe
If you make every surface of your house skateable you never have to leave!
Metro Skate Park
space2place and Spectrum Skateparks
Concrete park with a full tube and some strange transition castle on top.
Trafford Wharf Promenade
Some nice manual pads and unique stairs.
Sarpi Border Checkpoint
J. Mayer H.
The average human would be able to skate this only in their dreams. It's always good to push the envelope a little bit to see what we're capable of.
Like skateboarding? Check out how sk8ers can save your neighborhood from drowning, how they're teaching urban planners new tricks, and whether Le Corbusier was the skatepark's original architect.