Sport Facilities XXI Century



Author: Asia Gęborska

Skatepark design in Poland is still uncharted waters that we are exploring and it's getting better and better! The skatepark in Zielonka near Warsaw and the complex under construction in Minsk Mazowiecki are proof of the increasingly high level of design of sports facilities. How are architects responding to the needs of urban sports practiced at the skatepark, and why is the support of specialists and the skate community required during the creation of skateparks? We discuss this with Karol Piszczek, designer and proxy of the Slo Conceptdesign office .

Projektowanie nowoczesnych skateparków w Polsce. Rozmawiamy z architektem biura Slo Concept

Complex in Minsk Mazowiecki (see more)

You have been designing sports facilities for more than 13 years. Tell us about the origins of Slo Concept and the company's activities.

The history of Slo Concept's inception is inextricably linked to Techramps. There we took our first steps, working on skatepark concepts, architectural, executive and workshop projects. After some time we specialized in the design of skateparks and similar facilities, then we came to the conclusion that it is worth creating a brand that will provide the highest quality skatepark documentation Poland.

Why do designers of public spaces need specialized support from skatepark designers and should not do it "on their own"?

For several reasons. First, a skatepark is not a playground. Modular devices that have their own safety zones need a logical arrangement, they cannot be arranged arbitrarily. For the proper selection of modular elements, you need to have the practical knowledge needed to fit the individual elements - their heights, the distance between them. For design you also need to have knowledge and know the principles of the legal standard - Skateparks - Safety requirements and test methods. Design is a little more complicated with concrete objects, when they are not formed from separate modules. To properly design a concrete skatepark, you need to be a person who uses such facilities, know the principles of architectural design and have practice in creating them. Of course, when we are approached by designers, we try to help them as much as possible. Sometimes the developer gives us the opportunity to consult with young people or representatives of the skate community. Then we can not only show them the process of designing such facilities, but also select all the elements for specific needs. The last argument why architects need our support is the sheer cost of building such a facility. A large and poorly designed facility will put the investor in a difficult situation. The financing of the construction of such facilities is done with public funds, which leads to "bad PR" of such facilities. For example, when millions of dollars have been spent on the investment, and the skatepark shines empty because no one uses it. A well-designed facility is always full of people, which is also a bit of a problem in recent times, so we divide facilities into zones for different levels of skill.

Especially since professional competitions and contests are held at skateparks.

Exactly, another thing that raises our bar strongly is the fact that skateboarding and BMX are now Olympic sports - these sports represent a high level, they have their national teams. The facilities where our future Olympians will train should be of the highest quality and functionality.

List 3 lessons you learned from your first designs. What did the beginnings of your design look like?

Interesting question. Lesson one: faster does not mean better. Lesson two: if you don't have the heart for something, don't do it. Lesson three: collaboration is power, the key to the best designs.

Creativity is key when designing facilities for a group as crazy as riders. What guides you in creating innovative skatepark designs?

In our work we are guided by experience, following the latest trends, competitions, riders, newly created facilities. Here there is something going on all the time, this is a sport of creative people, on the so-called "busyness", inspiration can be found everywhere.

Projektowanie nowoczesnych skateparków w Polsce. Rozmawiamy z architektem biura Slo Concept

Creating a skatepark that will satisfy both skaters, roller skaters, BMX riders or riders of high-performance scooters is quite a challenge? How do you deal with it?

The best way is through consultations, then you can get a sense of what level each user group is at and offer them something suitable. Unfortunately, sometimes we are limited by budget, space, regulations. Then we are forced to compromise and favor the requests of a more numerous group.

Speaking of users, their safety is a priority. Are there any specific elements that you always pay attention to when designing skateparks?

In our work we rely on standards and building codes, but in some cases we have to meet the so-called minimum safety zones. We have to analyze certain solutions individually and choose these distances so that the safety of users is secured in a more realistic measure, not just the minimum. Here it is also worth emphasizing that it is important not only the design, but also an experienced contractor. Unfortunately, the history of building such facilities by general construction companies has taught us that this usually ends in a mass of amendments, in extreme cases dismantling the new skatepark.

What are your favorite inspirations for creating unconventional solutions at skateparks?

Most such ideas come to us during our weekly meetings, where we discuss the concepts we are working on. As I mentioned earlier, we have no shortage of inspiration. These sports are moving forward so much that it's hard to be behind! The young generation of riders is also strongly raising the bar, and thus stimulating us to design more and more new things.

Projektowanie nowoczesnych skateparków w Polsce. Rozmawiamy z architektem biura Slo Concept

Woodpark - an indoor skatepark in Warsaw.

Are there specific trends in skatepark design that you are noticing at the moment? Skateparks are not only individual facilities, but also spots and future school facilities that are slowly replacing the once popular eagles.

Certainly the tide is tipping in favor of large concrete facilities, skateparks and pumptracks. As for skatepark styles, Street used to be in trends, but now these trends are spreading equally - Street, Park and Flow. Trends include facilities adjacent to skateparks like playgrounds, outdoor gyms like street workout. I think we can't talk about substitution here, but rather complementing each other. As I said, these sports have become very professional in recent years, also young people are more aware of practicing these sports. Teenagers and kids know that it is necessary to warm up, stretch, prepare for riding to avoid injury. This can be seen in the older generations, who have to use all sorts of rehabilitators.

Projektowanie nowoczesnych skateparków w Polsce. Rozmawiamy z architektem biura Slo Concept

Skatepark in Zielonka (see more)

What are the differences in designing skateparks for different levels of skaters? As in the newly opened facility in Zielonka.

Of course, large sports facilities usually have zones for more and less advanced users. The time to create such a concept is also correspondingly longer, the more elements, the more correlations, you need to think it through and match it well. It's a bit like a mechanical watch - the more elements, the more complicated the mechanism, the more demanding to assemble, the more precise, but in the right hands something unique can be created.

Recently Slo Concept won an award for the design of a skatepark in Brzeszcze in the "Sports and Recreation Facilities" category of the "Modernization of the Year & Construction of the 21st" competition. What significance in further development does such an award have for you as a Designer?

Somewhere in our souls we always hoped that our work would be noticed by a wider audience, not just our niche. Until a few years ago, we were treated as a curiosity or add-on in the construction industry. Fortunately, this has changed quite recently. Of course, such awards have never been an end in themselves. The main driving force is the desire to create cool places for riders of all disciplines, safe and quality places!

Thank you for the interview and I wish you more success!

Concrete skatepark Brzeszcze

Projektowanie nowoczesnych skateparków w Polsce. Rozmawiamy z architektem biura Slo Concept

Award for the design of the skatepark in Brzeszcze in the category "Sports and recreation facilities" in the competition "Modernization of the Year & Construction of the XXI".

Slo Concept brand has been operating in the Polish and European market since 2003. It performs projects of skateparks, pumptracks, wakeparks, waveparks, flowparks and multi-element, extended investments (more than 900 completed concepts). The Slo Concept brand is part of the Techramps Group, an association of brands specializing in the comprehensive development of sports and recreational facilities.

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