Southbank Centre in London has released design options by three architectural practices - 42 Architects, SNE Architects and Rich Architecture - which show what an alternative skate park could look like under Hungerford Bridge, just 120m from the current undercroft and 10% larger than the current space. The designs demonstrate three different potential approaches to transform this area into a permanent, riverside skateable space and are part of Southbank Centre’s Festival Wing consultation process.
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, 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.”
It was clear, following discussions with the planning authorities, some skaters and other communities that there was a need to demonstrate the potential of the area under Hungerford Bridge as an alternative space for urban arts. Southbank Centre commissioned Iain Borden, Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, and Rich Holland, an architectural designer at Floda31, who has made many skateable installations and sculptures to prepare a draft design brief earlier this summer. They then invited three architectural practices to respond to the brief who all have experience in designing skateable spaces.
They identified that the prime use of the alternative site would focus on skateboarding as well as encompassing a range of urban arts activities including graffiti and BMXing. The designs should also be flexible to allow for the possibility of events-based programming including skateboard events and dance performances, and for it to be used as an open public space for everyone. The next step in the process is that a selection panel will be formed with representatives of interested communities including the skating community who are being invited to take part. The panel will be responsible for selecting the architect they’d most like to work with, finalising the design brief and developing the design.
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.