Cape Town opens ‘transformative’ skate park

4 August 2014

Cape Town’s first skate park in the city centre – designed, funded and constructed by the city’s Spatial Planning and Urban Design Department – has transformed an under-used and redundant city space into an community-led skate park.

The Gardens Skate Park, under the Jutland Avenue bridge, was officially opened this weekend. The park will be managed by the City of Cape Town’s Sport, Recreation and Amenities Department.

The park was the winner of an international design competition, held by Building Trust International last year, which called on professional and student architects to submit proposals that would turn “a neglected, forgotten part of your city into a playscape”.

‘Massive win’

“The project started as an initiative to transform a vacant public space into something that would benefit the community and also solve some of the issues that the site faced, like vandalism, littering and various other anti-social behaviour,” Garreth Bloor, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for economic, environmental and spatial planning, told Design Indaba in November last year.

Marco Morgan of the National Skate Collective, an advocacy group agrees: “It is a massive win,” he told the Weekend Argus on Saturday. “You can already see it breaking down the barriers of race, sex and age.”

Skating is forbidden on Cape Town’s streets. However, Cape Town Mayco member Bruce Herron was quoted in the Weekend Argus as saying that the city was considering a new by-law that could allow skating on certain streets.

The park is located under the Jutland Avenue/Mill Street bridge in Gardens and caters for both beginner and professional skaters, rollerbladers and BMXers. It is open from 8am to 9pm seven days a week and has floodlights as well as areas for spectators. At a busy intersection, it is fenced and access is controlled during operating hours. Street artist Dal East was commissioned to paint walls outside the park.

Pipe jam

The Gardens skate park covers an area of 480 square metres. Designer Clive Crofton told the Design Indaba that the park had been designed in the plaza style with stairs and handrails and marble ledges – “the best surface to grind on when you’re down the ledge”.

It features skate park elements, such as quarter pipes, banks, rails and a pipe jam, which is a pipe stuck in the ground – the only skate park in South Africa to feature that element.

“The location proved suitable for an activity such as skateboarding and we hope that this project will set the precedent for the use of many of the vacant spaces below the city’s bridges and off-ramps,” said Johan van der Merwe, Cape Town’s MEC for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning.

He said the skate park illustrated how innovative thinking and design-centred development could transform vacant and sometimes problematic spaces for the benefit of a wider community.

SAinfo reporter