Innovative ‘Skateable Sculptures’ move to Ipswich

Credit – Henry Kingsford

Two iconic forms which were the main attraction during the pedestrianisation of The Strand in Westminster last year, have been rehomed in Ipswich, aiming to bring new life to a well-loved skatepark. On Friday, the town had a major boost, when the delivery and installation of two innovative ‘skateable sculptures’ were installed at the skatepark at Stoke Bridge.

Skateboard GB, Skate Suffolk and Ipswich Borough Council have worked together with skatepark experts Betongpark – who originally created the sculptures at The Strand. The objects had been in storage with Westminster City Council since the end of the project last autumn, and will now have a long-term home in Ipswich.

Stoke Bridge skatepark celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and the addition of 2 obstacles will help modernise an ageing but much-loved amenity.

Skateboard GB provided the grant funding to Skate Suffolk to transport and install the forms at the skatepark, which took place on Friday 30th of September.  This was a significant logistical undertaking, with each object weighing between 1 and 3 tonnes and needing specialist equipment to transport and re-locate the pieces between Westminster and Ipswich.

A third skateable sculpture from The Strand will be stored by Ipswich Borough Council for potential future temporary or more permanent installation in active public realm or multi-use development.

Skateboarding is a rapidly growing sport, with in excess of 534,000 active participants in England and approximately 750,000 across the UK as a whole. It is also an activity with a strong and growing record of attracting new people into physical activity and, in particular, working effectively with young people at risk of marginalisation from education, employment and mainstream sports.

The project in Ipswich is a trailblazer for low-cost updates of other older skateparks nationwide, alongside an embrace of the ‘active public realm’ and ‘active travel’ agendas. These terms describe new ways of revitalising urban spaces by encouraging sports, physical activity, public art and the custodianship of those spaces by users, whilst reducing transport emissions and improving public health.  A similar project in Sheffield, on Exchange Street, Castlegate, has recently been shown to have reduced anti-social behaviour, whilst new projects in Nottingham, near the partially-demolished Broadmarsh shopping centre, and the UCL East Campus at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (both also opening this autumn and also involving Betongpark and Skateboard GB), provide further examples of how we can positively regenerate urban spaces.

James Hope-Gill, CEO at Skateboard GB commented, “It is great to see amazing sculptures which were created for and by skateboarders, being given a new lease of life in Ipswich. We are delighted by the forward-thinking attitude of Ipswich Borough Council for recognising the need to continually upgrade skateboarding facilities in the town.”

Cllr Philip Smart, Ipswich Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Parks, says:

“There’s nowhere better than the Stoke Bridge Park Skatepark to site these skateable sculptures. Ipswich Borough Council is pleased to help skateboarders through our provision of skate parks at both Stoke Park and Whitehouse Park. We are here for our residents of all ages who want better skateboarding and improved leisure facilities.”

The new features at Stoke Bridge skatepark will be available for anyone to use from this week.

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