Skate park design goes to the British seaside with Guy Hollaway’s F51
F51 is Folkestone’s brand new multi-storey dedicated skatepark, courtesy of the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust and Hollaway Studio
Typically popular with younger generations (but not only) and a potent urban culture for over half a century, skateboarding was one of four new categories added to the Olympic Games in 2020, heralding a new era for the sport of skateboarding. action around the world. The design of the skate park will need to keep pace, and Folkestone’s latest addition, the F51, has been completed just in time. Welcome, as its owners and creative team proudly say, to the world’s first multi-story skateboard facility.
The project was led by the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust and designed by Kent and London-based Hollaway Studio. Opening its doors this spring (April 4, 2022) to welcome people of all groups to the heart of the English seaside town, F51 promises to be an exciting new hub of activity for Folkestone. “It’s not a stand-alone project,” says studio founder and architect Guy Hollaway. Businessman Roger De Haan, who is not only the head of the trust behind the scheme but also the creator of the many businesses in the Saga Group (from holiday providers to insurance companies), grew up in Folkestone. Over the past decade he has invested heavily in the area, slowly transforming the seaside town.
F51 multi-storey skate park design
“His vision is to make it a great place to live and work,” says Hollaway. New projects in the area that bear his signature include the chic Rock Salt restaurant on the harbour, Alison Brooks Architects’ Quarterhouse Theater (opened 2009), the city’s Creative District and an ambitious waterfront masterplan. water which is currently under development. All this and the popular Folkestone Triennale make this corner of Kent a cultural hub.
The skate park was designed as part of this wave of development, on the grounds of a disused bingo hall that was intended to be a multi-storey car park and slowly, conceptually transformed into what is set to become a center lively skateboarding for the region and beyond. . “The focus is on young people,” says Hollaway. “The world’s first multi-storey skatepark, located in the heart of the city, tells young people that you are the most important thing and the future.”
In an effort to make this facility as suitable as possible, Holloway worked with renowned skate park specialists Maverick Engineering Solutions and Cambian Engineering Solutions, who stepped in to help create the three levels of skating experience that make up the building. . F51 looks monolithic and artfully shaped from the outside (its rounded, tapering shape towards the base means it’s actually much taller than it looks, says Hollaway), clad in textured, crushed metal .
“We wanted something ‘urban’ to reflect its use and make it identifiable,” says Hollaway. “There aren’t a lot of windows and not a lot of glass. It’s for protection – skateboards and flying bikes don’t work well with glass,” he smiles. Another practical aspect of the building is its environment. It is a “cold” building, which means that it has no heating or much insulation. Maintaining a cooler temperature not only helps solve the problems of durability, but also creates optimal conditions for sports that take place indoors.
The offerings inside range from an experienced skater’s playground, the first-floor concrete bowl, to the streetscape-inspired upper level. There is also a climbing wall and bouldering area, a café open to the community, a boxing ring and a training room and multifunctional areas. The belly of the first floor concrete bowl is visible on the ground floor ceiling and through the ground floor glazed facade, signaling the unusual use of the building, while clever engineering ensured that the overhangs and concrete mass of the first floor are safe and elegantly constructed.
Everything is meant to be accessible to everyone throughout the week, run by The Sports Trust, an independent not-for-profit sports charity in Folkestone. There will be a specially structured membership of £1 per month for school-age visitors, designed to encourage them to take part in any of the activities on offer here. For Hollaway Studio, F51 is an “adrenaline building”, explain the architects, both for visitors and for the city at large. “F51 is a gift for Folkestone and young people.” §