March 11 2013

A Skate Park Without Spending a Euro in Times of Crisis

The nongovernmental organization “Our Park” is behind a successful story of synergy between private and public actors, as well as participatory design, for the creation of an open public space in the heart of Athens, Greece. For over a year, “Our Skate Park” in downtown Athens has set a useful and optimistic precedent in urban planning for the Greek capital that has been in a deep economic crisis since 2008.

Our Park Athens

The idea sprang up under the imperative need for the regeneration of unused open public spaces all over the city while taking into account the true needs of the citizens of Athens. The plot for the skate plaza is located in a neighborhood surrounded by schools that host around 3,000 students and in close proximity to the metro station. This location makes it ideal for covering the needs of both local and supra-local visitors.

A private telephone company invested in the project and the municipality of Athens, taking into consideration the viability of the plan, was convinced to open the way for the park to be built. It was a five-party co-operation (an NGO, private and public actors, designers, users) that was completed without cost excesses, great transparency and, most importantly, without the state spending a single euro.

Our Park Athens

According to the architects of the project, Nikos Liakos and Tasos Michandas, they claim this was the first skate/bmx plaza in the municipality of Athens and the first public project that was completed in the record time of 4 months. The valuable contribution of the skate community in the completion of the project also played a significant role in the rapid building of the skate plaza. Their proposals regarding the latest trends in skate parks design together, with the architects’ expertise in landscape design, showed that participatory planning is not a theoretical discussion but a must in urban planning.

What is a successful story of urban participatory planning from your neighborhood?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Alkisti Eleni Victoratou

Alkisti Eleni Victoratou originates from Andros, a Cycladic island in Greece, and has lived and studied in Thessaloniki, England, Spain, and Athens-where she currently resides. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and in Architecture from the National Technical University of Athens. Having this multicultural and interdisciplinary background gives her a better understanding of socially sensitive urban issues. Her dissertation thesis in Architecture dealt with the study and assessment of the legislation relating to Bioclimatic Architecture in the European Mediterranean countries of France, Spain, and Greece. Her interests also extend to sustainable technologies and parametric design, contributing to building design and urbanism. During her internship with The Grid, she will concentrate on the most important top-down and bottom-up urban transformations of Athens during their current Crisis. Her aspirations are to further her academic and professional specializations in urban issues and sustainable design.

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 11th, 2013 at 9:29 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “A Skate Park Without Spending a Euro in Times of Crisis”

  1. Linda Maudsley Says:

    Hi , I’m not sure if this is possible, but willing to
    try and give Hope to some young people in Alexandria
    Egypt, who are passionate about skateboarding, and
    don’t have anywhere to skate without complaints from
    people who don’t skate, I’m sure You have heard
    this story before.
    I was listening to a CBC radio programme near
    Toront,Ontario,Canada this AM on how the young
    people in Egypt have had their passion for life
    squelched after the revolution.
    These young people need a Skateboard Park built
    for them.I was wondering if You and other
    designers could help them build it and or help fund
    raise to build it.There are so many problems in our
    World, that I thought I could suggest a “Great idea”
    to give these young people living in this crazy
    world Hope in knowing that We as humans, still care
    for each other.
    Linda 905-831-2708

  2. Alkisti Eleni Victoratou Says:

    Hello Linda, Thank you for your comment. I did some searching about skate parks in Egypt and I found that people from Egypt have already built some skate-infrastructure in Alexandria and other big cities. Of course, I am sure that there must be need for extra skateboard parks and plazas. At this stage and taking into consideration that there is civil war in the country the best we can do is spread the word about this successful Greek example to the right people so as to inspire them in managing a similar project at their country.

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