Sample designs for a new riverside skate park under Hungerford Bridge, as imagined by three different architects, have been released today by the Southbank Centre. The plans are an attempt to win over skaters who are protesting against the closure of the existing Undercroft space 120 metres away. The old space has been a teen hangout and epicentre of London skate culture for over 40 years – long before Avril Lavigne had even met her skater boy. Their aim is to create a new skate park under Hungerford Bridge that isn’t too obviously custom-built and is 10 percent larger than the Undercroft, and will be developed in conjunction with skaters to fit their needs.
However, this is not enough for protesters who are fighting to stop the transformation of the current graffiti-decorated, time-worn space into shops and restaurants as part of a £120 million redevelopment plan. The Long Live South Bank group, who have started a petition with over 60,000 signatures and helped curate a photography exhibition last July to highlight the Undercroft’s cultural value, say that the Southbank Centre “continue to refuse to recognise the voice of the most diverse and inclusive communities on the Southbank site, a voice which has galvanised a campaign with unprecedented public support”.
The Southbank Centre argue that the plans represent a unique opportunity for skateboarders, as most developers would simply move them on, meaning they will have to wait ’til heaven to skate freely. They are promising to guarantee the future of the new park as a permanent feature of the Southbank and say that the skaters’ input to the plans, which are not yet set in stone, will help the new site to be as organic and well-suited to skateboarding as possible. Katie Forster
What do you think of the plans? Will the new space be great or too fake for those who skate? In the meantime, practise your ollies at the still-standing (for now) Undercroft space at the Southbank Centre.