Taking Liberties with skatepark?
The report examines a variety of potential sites in Bridgefoot Street, Chamber Street, Francis Street and the Civic Offices at Wood Quay as well as an indoor option in the former Iveagh Markets, which surprisingly drew a “very positive response from skaters”. But it comes down strongly in favour of the currently underused section of St Patrick’s Park, a wedge-shaped podium along Bride Street that’s physically separate from the rest of this largely ornamental park, which is designed exclusively for “passive recreation”.
The report says that a park “will fail if considered to be solely for one single demographic, either local or tourist, young or old, male or female, skater or walker. The park must be both for those casually passing through and for those who see it as a destination.”
Carson and Crushell note that St Patrick’s Park enjoys “good passive surveillance” from houses and flats overlooking it, as well as ongoing management by the city council’s parks department. And because of its location, it would also have “good skate-tourism potential”.
Turning the wedge into a skatepark would “activate” this area, which is both well-defined and “neutral” as well as being connected to the city centre. Improving the park as a public amenity is also supported by the Cathedral Quarter Framework Plan, which was drawn up in 2006.
“Notwithstanding the potential draw from outside the vicinity – regionally, nationally and internationally – this park represents a great opportunity to provide a much-needed resource for young people in the area”, the architects say in their report. “It is intended that any design for the upper park is done in co-ordination with the conversion of the arches below into a community facility for the youth of the area, as suggested in the Cathedral Quarter Framework Plan.
“The resulting design will be described in architectural drawings and collage using material produced during workshops with Skate D8. A report documenting the project and the outcomes will be circulated amongst relevant stakeholders” – including the city council.
One of the precedents cited is the Micropolis Skatepark in Helsinki. Located in the Finnish capital’s central park, it used granite, concrete, brick, grass, shrubs and trees to create an “architectural experience” as well as an “attractive and exciting setting for skaters”.
Carson and Crushell are relying on the Dublin City Development Plan’s pledge to “ promote the development of both indoor and outdoor facilities for young people, eg multi-use games areas, teenage shelters, skateboarding areas and skateboard parks, youth cafes”.
It’s time for council officials to make good on this pledge. And there’s a good chance that they will, because the council’s budget for 2013 includes €75,000 for a park in the southwest inner city – with the location to be chosen by councillors representing the area.