London’s Southbank Centre has revealed some new plans for the proposed Hungerford Bridge Skatepark, which is supposed to replace the current space that the Southbank undercroft is using. Southbank Centre commissioned Iain Borden (Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at the Bartlett School of Architecture) and Rich Holland (Architectural designer at Floda31), who has been involved with a bunch of different sculptures and installations with ‘skatability’ in mind, to illustrate the new plans.

Long Live Southbank managed to get over 40,000 signatures on a petition to save the area from being destroyed by retail developments (worth £120 million). The Southbank Centre think that the space has more potential that is being utilized at the moment though, and if the skaters agree, are willing to spend up to £1 million on building the new space, which is 120 metres further up the river and 10% larger in size.

“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 site right next to the Royal Festival Hall.” She added that the current designs are “not set in stone” because “community sites like these are enormously enhanced by organic development through the use and input of the users themselves.” – Jude Kelly

Iain Borden said that “the three visualisations of the site certainly offer everything functionally that is already in the undercroft. They have steps, ledges, things that skaters can manoeuvre onto. They also have a reasonably flat floorspace. I would say it’s better if you just measure it quantitatively. What it doesn’t have is the 35-year history. But give the Southbank Centre their due. Normally a commercial developer comes along and says, ‘You’ve had your free ride, sod off.’ It’s part of the game because skateboarders use space they don’t own. What the Southbank are offering the skateboarders has never been offered to other skateboarding groups anywhere else in the world.”

What do you think about the plans?


After the Vans Skate Team Demo at Southbank in London on 3 September, they spoke to Southbank’s Henry Edwards-Wood about the threat to destroy this legendary skate spot. Henry talks about why he is against turning the space into a retail space, and about the heritage of Southbank skateboarding.


Southbank London

For those of you who haven’t heard already, the world famous Southbank in London is under threat by retail development.

Long Live Southbank is a non-profit organisation started by skateboarders to preserve London’s unique and renowned Southbank Undercroft and to represent it’s diverse creative community of skateboarders, BMXers, artists and visitors. They give them a voice and raise awareness about the imminent threat of the destruction of a creative community who have turned a dead space into a thriving visual hub for 40 years. Their mission: To preserve and protect the Southbank Undercroft site from relocation, gentrification and sanitisation. If successful in our bid to preserve this historic London landmark, our role would then be to act as a committee dedicated to looking after the interest of its users and to improve the site in a way which compliments and enhances the original features which first attracted the skateboard community in the early 70’s.

They currently have more that 26,000 members from all walks of life, art forms and social backgrounds.

Sign the petition:

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Article by John Crace: