Guy Hollaway plans to "put Folkestone on the map" with world's first multi-storey skatepark

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British architect Guy Hollaway has unveiled plans for the "world's first" purpose-built multi-storey skatepark, which he says will help prevent young people from moving away from a sleepy British seaside town (+ slideshow).

Skate Park by Guy Holloway

Hollaway – who has offices in London and Kent – was commissioned by billionaire Roger De Haan to draw up plans for the sports centre, which he claims will be the first of its kind. Three concrete floors will provide a park for skateboarders and BMX riders, and there will be a boxing ring in the basement.

"We see this as an opportunity to put Folkestone on the map," Hollaway told Dezeen. "To the best of our knowledge this has never been done anywhere else in the world. It's really the first of its type."

Skate Park by Guy Holloway

The skatepark will sit on the site of an old bingo hall in the centre of Folkestone, a small seaside town in south-east Kent. The town has experienced a recent surge in popularity due to the success of the Folkestone Triennial, an arts festival where artists and designers make work for public spaces.

This prompted a huge regeneration plan for the town centre – masterplanned by Terry Farrell's London firm.

Skate Park by Guy Holloway

But Hollaway has bigger ambitions for the project than to just revitalise a once-failing town centre and provide a new sports facility. He wants the project to help prevent young people from moving away to the city.



"What we're trying to do is reverse engineer this brain drain," he explained.

"If you make childhood meaningful through education, sport, recreation then it's more likely that they'll invest in their town and the future and stay and maybe bring up their own children in that town – that is what true regeneration is about."

Skate Park by Guy Holloway

The project will be built to replace a former harbour-side skatepark, also owned by De Haan, which has been earmarked by Farrells for between 800 and 1,000 houses.

The new building will feature a giant bowl on the upper floor, allowing skaters and bikers to drop five metres down onto the level below, while ramps and a large industrial lift will be added for the less adventurous.

"It sounds dangerous doesn't it?" said Hollaway. "We're shrouding our children in what feels like rubber to protect them all the time, but I think – as the world becomes safer – a controlled adrenaline facility is what people will demand."

Skate Park by Guy Holloway

The three upper floors of the building will be veiled in metal mesh allowing maximum daylight and ventilation into the unheated space, while the ground floor will be wrapped in glass.

The undulating surfaces that provide ramps, moguls and ledges designed to allow skaters to perform tricks will be left exposed, creating a cave-like entrance hall supported by curving concrete columns.

Skate Park by Guy Holloway

"As you come in you'll see the belly of the bowl above you and hear the wheels of the skates above your head as well," added the architect. "The design of the park will create the ceiling below."

"It's just being completely honest about what goes on above and how it comes together."

Skate Park by Guy Holloway

The studio is collaborating with skatepark designers and "famous skaters" to develop a facility hoped to draw beginners as well as international talent. One idea is to replicate the best bits of the world's skateparks and transplant them inside the building.

An 11-metre-high climbing wall will span the upper floors, while a cafe, office and first-aid centre will occupy the ground floor. A local boxing club has been invited to take up residence in the basement.

Skate Park by Guy Holloway

A rooftop terrace will allow sweaty skaters, climbers and boxers to dry off in the cool sea air and to appreciate "incredible views over Folkestone and the English Channel". According to the architect, this feature is inspired by Frank's Cafe, a rooftop bar atop a multi-storey building in south-east London.

This isn't the first project Hollaway will work on for De Haan – his firm previously completed a seafood restaurant on the town's harbour.

This latest project will be submitted for planning permission in the next couple of months, with a view to complete by 2017 – just in time for the town's next triennial.

Skate Park by Guy Holloway
Cross section – click for larger image
Skate Park by Guy Holloway
Long section – click for larger image
  • Tom

    Interesting concept, but is this really what Folkestone needs? I would have thought that a scheme to reactivate the dying harbour-side would be more appropriate.

  • Michelle Hennessy

    This is a brilliant idea. We need to give youths something to do – a skatepark on a grand scale will bring in lots of visitors to Folkestone as well as giving our youth something to be proud of, enjoy and be a part of. Can’t wait…

  • Josh

    The design of this is unbelievably poor. There is innovation in the brief but the architecture looks like a first-year student project. Good luck with holding up all that concrete with those tiny columns in the basement.

  • will

    As an architecture student and a skater, this project really worries me. Interesting concept, but I fail to see why a three-story “skatepark complex” is needed to answer the brief. This project has caught my attention for all the wrong reasons.

    • Jonah Gardner

      The idea to move through the building by gravity and on a path from top to bottom is really interesting, kind of like a Tony Hawk Game.

      However, maybe the design of the park itself is more interesting than the building. I see using two storeys with greater square footage for errors. The renderings seem to show real tight spaces.

      Also, with everything made of concrete, there is no possibility to change the skate park layout. What would you have done differently?