Isthmus

City |

Urban grind.
Victoria Park
Skate Plaza.

Approach

Skate park designs respond to trending skate styles – but without exception all are born of the urban and have connections to their spaces and places of inception. With the push toward street skating in recent years, the Victoria Park Skate Plaza wears the influence of an urban plaza, with numerous elements true to the form of traditional street skate elements.

Right Inside the flowing bowl, different heights cater for varied levels of ability.

Below The skate park comprises of an upper and a lower plaza. The upper plaza provides a flow-type experience. The lower plaza a more formal street-style experience.

 

‘Skateboarding is not a crime’ was the ’90s’ manifesto for youth searching in vain for somewhere to grind a step edge or jump a gap without risk of being ‘moved along’ or pinged by the cops for public property damage. In time, the elusive ‘somewhere’ became the skate park but surprisingly – given the popularity of skateboarding, scooters and BMX throughout the 2000s – Auckland’s inner city had few sanctioned skating places.

Left An aerial view of Victoria Park shows an elevated section of State Highway 1 crossing the green space of the park on the diagonal. The new skate park is designed to connect to the street and the park.

There was one, though, at Victoria Park but in 2010 this was removed to allow the Victoria Park Highway Tunnel to scythe through the park. The good news was that, at the urging of the local skating community, Auckland Council organised a temporary timber skate park. Better still, a new park was planned and, in a rare example of young people being given a voice in design decisions, a group of local skaters became part of the Technical Advisory Group that played a valuable consultation role on the project.

“Victoria Park Skate Plaza was one the first real plaza skate parks in New Zealand that incorporated typical street elements and your classic transition-style park.”
— Chey Ataria, skater and Technical Advisory Group member

Right Two pou whenua were carved for the site. One by Ngāti Whātua o Ōrakei carvers (first pictured), the other by Lee Ralph, a world-class New Zealand skateboarder.

At Victoria Park Skate Plaza today, under the gaze of two carved pou – one by Ngāti Whātua acknowledges the history of the stream that ran through the site; the other a carving by legendary New Zealand skater Lee Ralph, of a figure with arms tightly entwined around a skateboard – you’ll find upper and lower sections with an entrance space in between. It looks like a high-quality urban environment – and that is a key to its success, as high-quality urban spaces are great places to skate. Another key to success if that the ‘flow park’ setting; that is, the elements you might find on a typical street – elevation changes, ledges, seats and steps – are mixed with a ramps, quarter pipes, pump bumps, bowl corners in a way that caters to skaters of varied skill. In this case, popularity is the evidence of its success.

Below A timber half-pipe is a reused part of the temporary skate park put in place while the Victoria Park Highway Tunnel was being implemented.

Victoria Park opened in 1905 as a non-picturesque park. It is a flat plane, which meant careful handling was required careful handling to integrate the skate plaza. On the western edge, the street interface is a long roughcast-concrete wall is well matched to the scale and proportion of the opposite streetscape. It’s a device that provides copious seating – and you’ll often find it packed with skaters resting or waiting for a ride home.

Left The upper plaza, a sinuous wave of smooth concrete, a subtle variation on an old-school bowl skating design, is optimised for BMXs and scooters.

Below Madars Apse, as featured in Transworld Skateboarding, rides a wall to the top of the Victoria Park Highway Tunnel egress building.

In contrast to the urban edge, the park-side boundary steps down through planted levels as a softer interface more appropriate to the park’s green edge. On the northern boundary, you’ll find one of the stars of the show – a seemingly utilitarian emergency-egress box fitted with a massive wall ride… for the brave or foolish, this has been the scene of many spectacular rides – and fails.

Team Members
Travis Wooller, Alan England,
Past Team Members

Evan Williams, Tim Fitzpatrick, Kent Lundberg

Consultant Team
Technical Advisory Group –
Chey Ataria, Haimona Ngata, Justin Watene;
Bowl Design – James Blas;
Artworks – Lee Ralph, Ngāti Whātua o Oraki

Contractor
P&M Civil

Client
Auckland Council

Awards
2013 NZILA, Distinction Award Rural/Park/Recreational