Today, London's Southbank Centre revealed a number of new plans for the proposed Hungerford Bridge Skatepark which would replace the current iconic undercroft space. Iain Borden - the professor of architecture and urban culture at the Barlett School of Architecture, UCL - and Rich Holland - an architectural designer at Floda31 who has made many skateable installations and sculptures - were both commissioned by the Southbank Centre to illustrate how a skateable space could look under Hungerford Bridge.
The plans to develop the current undercroft into shops and restaurants as part of a £120 million redevelopment were met with opposition by the skateboarders, who formed the group Long Live Southbank and gained over 40,000 signatures on a petition to save the area. The Southbank Centre, however, believe the new space - which is 120 metres further up the river and is 10% larger - has a lot of potential and say they could spend up to £1 million on the construction of the space, if the skaters agree.
Jude Kelly, the Southbank's artistic director, said: "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."Iain Borden said he agreed the current site is preferable, but added 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." He added "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."