The Mill Street Skate Park is “the best Park in Cape Town” according to Bradley Bourne, a skateboarder from Mitchell’s Plain. It is also the City’s first public skate park in the CBD, located adjacent the MyCiti bus stop in Gardens. The Park opened in August 2014, winning the Building Trust International PLAYscapes design competition, and now attracts skateboarders, rollerbladers, and BMXers from around Cape Town and beyond.
Skateboarding is officially forbidden on the City’s streets and the park is therefore a much-needed amenity, says Marco Morgan, who works with the National Skate Collective to help facilitate skateboarding in cities around South Africa.
By beginning to embrace skateboarding, Cape Town joins other cities in which the sport and subculture are becoming appreciated features of inner city landscapes, from London to Bangalore and Kabul.
Efforts by Morgan and others have been instrumental in changing the way skateboarding is understood in Cape Town. One result of this is ‘Promenade Mondays’, where skateboarders are free to ride along the promenade in Sea Point without the risk of being fined. While Morgan is hugely supportive of the initiative to create specific areas for skateboarders he also believes that skateboarding has a lot to contribute to public spaces and that “skateboarders should be integrated into the city rather than separated from the public”.
On weekends in particular, the park in Gardens is busy and draws a diverse crowd of users as well as spectators. The social aspect of the space is something Bradley Bourne finds appealing and he says that in his experience “everyone at the park is very friendly and it’s easy to make new friends”. For him, skateboarding is also not just a good workout but he values it because, as he says, “it keeps you away from a lot of nonsense”.
The social side of the sport is something that other organisations in Cape Town are focusing on. Rayne Moses, a 24-year-old graduate of TSiBA Education, started Nebula Skateboarding in 2012. Its stated aim is to “offer academic and personal support through skateboarding and youth development programmes”. Nebula is based in Gugulethu and with the help of volunteers runs programmes with 30 children in Gugulethu, as well as programmes in Athlone and Valhalla Park. Nebula has so far organised two competitions at the Gardens skatepark.
The location of the park right next to the MyCiti bus stop makes it accessible, and situated as it is under a bridge has the added benefit of keeping out bad weather. The park also represents a more inclusive approach to public spaces when compared to the ‘defensive architecture’ that has been introduced under other bridges in the city to prevent people sleeping in these areas.
Source : GroundUp