London’s West End transformed into an ephemeral skate park

One of London’s busiest streets has traded cars for skates.

A section of the Strand has been closed to traffic and turned into a temporary skatepark where Londoners can enjoy free shows and lessons, with the aim of greening the streets of the capital.

The park, a collaboration between Westminster City Council, Somerset House and the shoe brand Vans, is open from September 8 to 24.

Helena Long, skateboarder and gallery supervisor at Somerset House who helped come up with the idea, said: “I think London is pretty but there is a lot of hostile architecture.

“A skatepark is inspiring to look at and it inspires you to use public space in a different way, rather than just sitting down and having lunch. “

The skatepark, located just outside the entrance to Somerset House, is being tested as council determines how best to pedestrian the street.

It also coincides with Somerset House’s “No Comply, Skate Culture and Community” exhibition, which focuses on the skateboard scene and how it is shaping London and other cities.

Long believes that skateboarding is a unique way to get people to engage with the city.

She said: “The park is something that we respect as skateboarders because it’s rare, and we are grateful to have it and we care about our surroundings.

“Having been to the park many times and working at Somerset House and the exhibits people stop and watch and they really love it.”

Agnieszka Aga Wood, 47, founder of social enterprise EVERYONE ON BOARDS, says skateboarding has a positive impact on the mental health of young people.

She said: “Not everyone can afford skating lessons, and the Strand provides the perfect opportunity for kids to skateboard for free.

“I want to create an amazing ecosystem where everyone is happy and coexists.”

The park brings together architectural forms of skating and public spaces, bringing an innovative visual engagement to the city.


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