Why Skateboarding Matters to Architecture

There's an interesting article at Huffington Post about how skateboarders are invested in spaces much like architects are.

A skater, unlike your typical pedestrian, experiences space just as intensely and consciously as an architect himself, albeit in a different way. He/she is alive to the possibility of space, not in its totality, as an architect would be, but as a collection of tactile surfaces to be jumped on, grinded, and conquered.

As a skateboarder turned architect I agree with a lot that's being said here. Skaters are interested in how they can use spaces and manipulate common site objects by utilizing and working around barriers that are put there to their detriment. I've heard that Thom Mayne was once going off during a presentation on his Cal Trans building in downtown LA because of all the things that were put in to deter skateboarders. He was justifying their use of the public plaza just like everyone else because they are citizens and tax payers too. I can't find a reference to that dialog online to quote it unfortunately. Here's another thought-provoking excerpt from the article:

The skater offers a revolutionary perspective for the architect: one that allows you to see buildings beyond what they were intended to be, to see (and design) buildings as “building blocks for the open minded.”

Here's a link to some additional reading from an article called Urban Space and Representation. This is great stuff.

Here in the movement of the body across urban space, and in its direct interaction with the modern architecture of the city, lies the central critique of skateboarding - a rejection both of the values and of the spatio-temporal modes of living in the contemporary capitalist city.