The Folkestone Multi-Storey Skatepark Interview - Sidewalk Skateboarding

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The Folkestone Multi-Storey Skatepark Interview

An interview with project manager Kay Whitehead

We’re sure that, by now, most of you will have gotten some kind of wind of  Folkestone’s Multi-Storey Skatepark, an in progress project that, as far as we know, is a world first. With progress currently underway and an opening date tentatively scheduled in for next summer, we decided that we couldn’t miss the chance to get an inside look at such an ambitious project and so hit up Project Manager Kay Whitehead to find out more…

How did the plan to build a multi-storey skatepark first come about, and how long did it take before it felt like it would actually become a reality?

We didn’t begin with the idea of a multi-storey skatepark, it was the need for a skatepark in the area that got the project started.  The innovative thinking and ambitious approach of the funder, The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, meant that the concept grew into a multi-storey sports park.  Building a multi-storey sports park gives us more space and more opportunities but it also creates a lot of challenges!

From day one the project has had huge potential; however, it has been quite a process (several years in the making) and while we were lost in the detail of design and engineering it did feel a long way off.  Now that we are on site and progress is visible the buzz of excitement in seeing our plans realised is palpable.

I imagine that working out a park design in such unusual circumstances must be quite a challenge – how long did it take to finalise the layout of the actual skatepark itself and what were some of the challenges that immediately presented themselves in doing so? Does what is currently being built differ much from the original visualisation?

Most projects come up against issues, because this has never been done before we are encountering challenges throughout the process.  A great team and some creative thinking is a must!  We set the skate design quite early in the process and many of the other decisions have followed on from there.  The diamond shape of the building has certainly played a role in how the skate features have come together.  We wanted to pack plenty in but make sure that it makes sense for users and the natural lines they will take.

The plans have evolved at each phase; initially we contemplated being able to skate from floor to floor, but realised that this would take up far too much space.  We looked at being an all concrete park, however that would have created a very heavy building and not given us much flexibility in adapting or providing for different styles and levels.  Being able to test our thoughts on locals and other skaters has been a useful guide in these decisions.

Did you take any influence from existing skateparks, for example the unique work that Glifberg and Lykke are doing in Denmark at the moment?

Of course, Maverick’s design combines their experience delivering skateparks with their experience as skaters. There are nods to the classic features like the combi-bowl but mostly the approach has been to deliver something that suits the novice and appeals to experienced users.  We admire what Glifberg and Lykke are doing, to be honest it is a similar approach; we are bringing a skatepark to the centre of town, creating a space that allows for social interaction as well as interaction between different sports and there will definitely be a strong sculptural element to the exterior views of the park.

Who was in charge of designing the park and was there input from local skateboarders?

Guy Hollaway Architects have designed the park and the skate floors were designed by Maverick; it has been an organic process – the brief was to work together to create a world class skate park.  Right from the start we talked to local riders who will make this park their home.  We’ve had input from riders/skaters along the way, including a series of focus groups with riders at other parks.  It helped us to realise that a mix of concrete and timber would mean we could meet a variety of needs and leave us room to adapt the park in the future.  We’re still talking to skaters, climbers and boxers to get their input. We appreciate people taking the time to reach out. It’s impossible to include everything but it all shapes how the park is set up and how it will run.

Can you tell us a bit about the layout – what will be featured in each area?

The ground floor will house the café, function room and boxing gym, two lifts transport users to the three skate floors.  The first floor or bowl floor will feature a concrete pool bowl and a more modern style bowl. The climbing wall starts on the first floor, which is also home to the bouldering room. The second level or flow floor is a large timber skate area full of hips and blends, volcanoes, and skateable columns. The largest skate section will be the timber street level on the top floor of the park.

How deep will the bowls be once they are completed?

The depth of the pool bowl ranges from 1.5m to 2.5m and the modern bowl from 1m to 1.65m

In what sort of time frame can we expect the park to be open by?

The park will open in summer 2019.  Keep an eye on @Folkestone51 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out about the launch

How deep will the bowls be once they are completed?

The depth of the pool bowl ranges from 1.5m to 2.5m and the modern bowl from 1m to 1.65m

In what sort of time frame can we expect the park to be open by?

The park will open in summer 2019.  Keep an eye on @Folkestone51 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out about the launch

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