Southbank Skate Park

A while back, during a weekend in London, I was walking on Queen Elizabeth Walk with my brother and was inevitably drawn to the Southbank Skate Park area, a very famous landmark for graffiti artists and skateboarders. The time for some small talk, a coffee to go and the inevitable cigarette while attentively observing the place and the people; all frozen in a few snapshots.

Only once back in Italy did I fully understand the importance of that place and of how much its future was the subject of intense debate and discussion.

Located underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Thames in London, the UK’s busiest skate park has been threatened with closure for the last few years. Part of the Southbank Centre, known as the Undercroft, has been used by the skateboard community since the early 70’s. It was originally an architectual dead-spot which has become the home of British skateboarding. The size of the Undercroft has been reduced in recent years and was supposed to be returned to its original size. This now seems unlikely and the future of the whole space is completely unsure at this time.


The turning point may have come just last month after this petition to the Prime Minister who was quick to reply:

The Southbank Centre is an independent arts organisation and decisions about the Undercroft are a matter for them. However, the Southbank Centre recognises the importance of the Undercroft in bringing together skateboarders from across the UK and the value that the skateboarding community has brought to many young people and the South Bank area itself. Any activity that engages and develops young people can have a very positive impact on society and the skateboarding community that has grown up around the Undercroft has brought together people from various backgrounds, created a vibrant public space and added real value to the lives of many young people.

The Southbank Centre has said that it has no plans to redevelop the Undercroft used by skateboarders. In fact, they are in close discussions with the skateboarding community about how to improve the current skateboard area and about how the community might become more involved in the Southbank Centre’s artistic programme.

Southbank will live again.

Watch the photobook here.