Project by Straddle3 + Sergi Arenas + Lur Paisajistak
The project was born in response to the demands of young people from the local area for a space specifically adapted to urban sports. Almost a decade earlier, in 2007, young residents of Santa Coloma had asked the City Council for a space where they could skate. The response was a small conventional skatepark built over a covered part of the B-20 highway, rounding off the area known as Europa Park, adjoining the Can Zam sports grounds. This small park was designed and built out of precast elements available on the market, and it became part of a family of sporting facilities that are reproduced, almost identically, in many municipalities in Spain.
This park soon proved inadequate for the aspirations of local urban sports practitioners, who started to demand larger, better areas for their activities, emphasising their desire to be actively involved in the design of the facilities from start to finish.
The City Council listened to the demands and offered skaters and bikers a site very close to the previous skate park. The site, triangular in shape and ample enough for the purpose, was a space left over between different sports facilities at the very large Can Zam public area, which has been the area's green zone for years, and one of the main connections between the municipality and the Besos river area. The site was essentially a wasteland, with the exception of a grove of elms to the south, and a few areas of spontaneous vegetation.
Santa Coloma City Council, with the support of Área Metropolitana de Barcelona, contacted Straddle3 to develop a project in response to the young people's demands. Straddle3 proposed a participative process consisting of fortnightly meetings at a youth centre, and brought the skater Sergi Arenas and the Lur Paisajistak team on board for the project.
During these sessions, participants defined a framework of priorities that generated an urban use plan for the park, which was to be implemented in several stages due to budgetary constraints. At meetings with the administrative bodies involved, a methodology was developed that went well beyond the original bases of the project and even beyond the usual notion of citizen participation.
It was agreed that the participation process would not stop with the basic design, but expand into the actual construction of the park. The project thus involved a mix of basic urban design and infrastructural works to be carried out by a contractor on one hand, and another block of tasks to be carried out by the project management team and future users through self-building workshops.
There were two submissions: an overall preliminary design, and an executive project for the first stage.
The project that emerged from the participatory process includes a promenade, a skatepark, an open-air gym, and a bike park, as well as an area fitted out for parking vehicles. The first stage includes the new pedestrian access to the area, a promenade, and a multipurpose skatepark suitable for practitioners of different urban sports.
The project puts emphasis on the recovery and protection of pre-existing woodland, mainly consisting of elms, complemented by planting poplars in the more humid zones that were previously lacking in vegetation. The design of the space is structured around islands surrounded by grass belts, with a circumference corresponding to the reach of the sprinklers used for watering. These islands are repeated throughout almost the whole of the project area, although their configuration varies according to the different uses of each section.
Iñigo Segurola (Lur Paisajistak) and David Juarez (Straddle3) conducted a gardening workshop in which diverse people participated. In this workshop, vegetable specimens of ditches and unused plots of land were recovered from the surrounding transformation zones and were transplanted to the new park's parterres. We can see how the way to recover plant elements from abandoned areas - what Gilles Clement calls the Third Landscape - is not really different from the way in which the constructive elements that conform the urbanized part of the park have been recovered.
The skateable area is located between the central part of the islands and the southern boundary, with the grove of elms, so it its partially shaded. One of the distinctive conditioning factors of the project is the fact that it is based on self-building practices and the use of recycled materials. This applies, on one hand, to the skateable area, with the use of metal profiles and second-hand precast concrete elements to create the skating obstacles, and on the other, to the promenade area, where the benches are made out of recovered concrete counterweights, the islands are decorated with laminated bamboo from ephemeral installations, and the pergola-lantern is made out of abandoned traffic light posts.
Team: David Juarez, Roger Pujol & Jordi Granada (architects), Sergi Arenas (skater &...), Pau Monasterio (civil engineer), Iñigo Segurola & Juan Iriarte (landscape architects), Erkuden Fernández (coordination), Carla Boserman (graphic artist), Wwb.cc (website), Xavi Zamora, Óscar Osuna, Alberto Duran, Guille Gomez, Victor García, Uri Albareda, Alex Swift, Marc Hidalgo, Alex Navarro, André Ehrstein y Txiki, etc... (future users).