Archive for April, 2009

ANTI-SKATE

April 29, 2009

According to an article in the Herald Sun, Melbourne City Council has boosted funding for anti-skate devices to $50,000 over the next year. (This was last year 2008) It has probably risen again in 2009. Boroondara Council allocates $100,000 a year for skate park development – it established Junction Skate Park for $750,000 – but it still had to fork out a further $5000 to install skateboarding deterrents in a popular park.

Anti skate products vary according to the type  of object they’re attached to. Some are retro fitted and others are built into the products and architecture. The most popular are the metal strips on ledges and ‘caps’ fitted to handrails. There are also grip strips that are placed at the top and bottom of staircases. Their original purpose was to provide better grip on wet days. They are also in place to guide the visually impaired down the stairs. But the grip strips have another benefit to those installing them. They prevent skateboarders from jumping down stairs because they are too bumpy to ride over. They are usually made out of metal or plastic.

Here are a few images of a skate trip around Southbank. I was taking photos of the following:

-Anti skate products

-Skateboard damage

-Public objects such as furniture, seating, benches, statues, bike racks, cigarette bins, recycling bins and lamp posts.

Metal Skate caps -South Bank

Metal Skate caps -South Bank

Metal Grip Strips- South Bank Steps

Metal Grip Strips- South Bank Steps

Bins & public seating

Bins & public seating

Melted wax and skateboard marks

Melted wax and wheel marks

I’ll do a bit more mapping of Melbourne City council’s ‘safe and unsafe’ skate routes to get more accurate idea of traffic flow and pedestrians. I’ll also be able to gauge the limitations of the space.


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Art or Vandalism?

April 29, 2009

Skateboarding can be classified as both a sport and an art form. Some people considered it to be a form of vandalism. Skateboarding, along with graffiti, is one of the few recreational activities that fit into this category. But the term vandalism depends largely on the location and the owner of the property.

‘Street’ skateboarding is the most popular form of skateboarding. Yet most of it is done illegally on Public and private property. The manner in which skateboarders use public property is dictated by councils and by government. Do not ride recklessly or endanger other people. Do not skate These laws are not strictly enforced. According to signs it is a $100 fine in certain areas. (Bourke street mall)

Private property and particularly commercial buildings offer some good places to skate. However they are the hardest places to skate without being interrupted by security guards. Skateboarders aren’t just seen as nuisances, they are public enemy number one. Some security guards spend more time fending off skateboarders than they would apprehend thieves. At some locations the response is so quick that a skate session would only last 3 minutes (which can be quite disappointing when you’ve travelled many kilometres to get there).

Entering and skating on private property such as high schools and primary schools is illegal. However schools are probably the most skate locations because they have such good obstacles. Primary schools and high schools are good because they have smaller chairs and tables to grind on. Which means you can perform a wider range of tricks with ease. If you’re lucky you can find movable benches and furniture that aren’t bolted to the ground. This means you can assemble the obstacles in to a configuration that suits you best. It’s also possible to construct make-shift ‘kicker ramps’ to do tricks off. Schools with small, moveable furniture are well known and highly valued within the skate community. A downside to moveable obstacles is that people steal them for their own personal use. Some people will go to great lengths to lift, and carry these obstacles home. (Thrown over fences and put into vans). On the other hand, some skaters will take their own home built ramps and rails to these locations just so they can try new tricks on different terrain.

Picnic Table

Picnic Table

At some high schools skateboarding is permitted by student during school hours. ON SCHOOL PROPERTY! What if these schools had adequate facilities and designated skate zones within school grounds? Kids would be able to skate during lunchtime breaks. These zones could be fully supervised and equipped with first aid. The popularity of the skateboard would grow. If I were to design an obstacle it would be multifunctional. For example a standard seat that can be converted into a grind box during lunch time. There are a few key issues that need to be addressed with an object like this: Safety (for skaters and others), education, entertainment and functionality.

Improper use, damage control and theft prevention would be other issues involved in a product like this.

Bike rack- South Bank

Bike rack- South Bank

Skateboard Questionnaire

April 29, 2009

This is a quick questionnaire I’ll be getting skaters to complete. The questions will give me some data to base my major on and will give clarity to some basic topics. Where do they skate the most and what tricks do they perform? I’ll be targeting people aged 10-25.I will also add the question- How do you get to the Riverslide skate park? Train, tram, car, walk, skate. This will help determine the mode of transport into the CBD and the type of traffic around Alexander gardens.

Click here to view the Questionnaire.

Design objects

April 29, 2009

This is the brain storm that pushed me toward Urban design and Skate safe (below). I was interested in locations, tools, forms of public furniture, everyday obstacles we see on the streets. Skateboarding could give new purpose for these objects. Ownership and sharing (private and public) are also interesting ideas to play around with. It’s very broad and I don’t think ill expand on this. I’ll just narrow it down and focus on one of these objects. The other sub headings can still be incorporated into the design.

There is also a list of Skateboarding tricks in a type of family tree format.

Click here for large image.

SkateSafe Program

April 29, 2009

The City of Melbourne undertakes a comprehensive safe skate program that aims to raise awareness of personal safety, injury prevention and the benefits of using protective equipment amongst skaters. The project also challenges current attitudes about protective equipment and encourage skaters of all ages to always use protective equipment. The project achieves these outcomes through effective communication with skaters, reinforcing the message by drawing on peer educators from within the skating community. In 2006, the City of Melbourne will continue to promote SkateSafe through the provision and promotion of free safe skate lessons during school holidays and the promotion of safe skate routes to navigate and move through the City.

Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) conducted a research project titled ‘Gear Up: Motivators and Barriers to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by Youth Skaters. They had some very valuable information. Their findings indicate that there are personal, socio-cultural and economic factors influencing the use or non-use of PPE.

Only 25% of skaters wear wrist guards. (Wrist injuries and head injuries are the most common)

Elbow pads and knee pads were only seen as acceptable when learning how to skate, when skating ‘Vert’ ramp and when protecting an already injured body part. PPE was otherwise seen as unnecessary precaution that is uncomfortable and a hindrance to performance.

Skaters also valued the challenge of skating, which intrinsically involved ‘pushing their limits’ (risk taking) and got intense satisfaction from ‘landing’ new tricks. While personal challenges were self-set and achieved, it was clear that social approval for mastery was also valued.

Referenced from – City of Melbourne -Application to the World Health Organisation for Re-designation as a Safe Community

October 2006

This information is a few years old but still very relevant.

Vert Ramp skateboarding with pads

Vert Ramp skateboarding with pads

This is a professional skateboarder who is bailing from a trick. Ramp skaters always wear elbow and knee pads because of frequent falls at extreme heights. Although it looks uncontrolled he would have slid down the ramps transition on his knees with relative ease.

Street Skating

Street Skating

Now this guy is skating on the Dean’s Office of some university. He needs a helmet…or some grass to fall on. I’m pretty sure he is a professional skateboarder. And if he can walk after this fall them I can guarantee he got up and tried it again. You can’t stop people from trying to skate these massive obstacles the same way it is impossible to make protective pads compulsory to wear (and actually enforce it). It’s better to guide amateur skaters toward safer street skating locations rather than have them try tricks that are too extreme.

These are the locations that Skate Safe And Melbourne city council have declared unsafe to skate.

Unsafe zones in the city are:

  • Bourke Street Mall (7am to 7pm);
  • Little Collins Street (7am to 7pm);
  • Swanston Street, western footpath (7am to 7pm);
  • Little Bourke Street (24 hours); and
  • Federation Square (24 hours).

Sensitive sites unsuitable for skating

  • Lincoln Square (memorial to victims of the Bali bombings);
  • Argyle Square Piazza marble;
  • State Library steps and footpath sculpture;
  • Treasury Buildings and Gordon Reserve including Parliament Station entrance;
  • Little Lonsdale Street between Exhibition and Russell streets (9pm to 7am);
  • Eureka Tower  forecourt;
  • Freshwater Place plaza and park;
  • North Bank – corner of William and Flinders streets
  • Melbourne Town Hall steps
  • Flinders Lane between Swanston and Russell streets
  • New Quay Promenade, Docklands;
  • The Hub, Docklands;
  • Telstra Dome concourse and access points (including La Trobe Street crossover and Bendigo Bank forecourt); and
  • Bourke Street walkway and bridge, Docklands.

This is a map of the CBD showing the safe and unsafe zones for skating.

Melbourne CBD Map of Unsafe skate zones

Melbourne CBD Map of Unsafe skate zones

I know this image is a bit small I will put it up on issuu for a closer look. The red areas are the sensitive sites and the Blue is the ‘Unsafe zones’. The green square points to the Riverslide skate park. I don’t know what the other little green spots are but I think they are indicating the Safe areas and train stations. Is this a joke?! They may be safe, but they certainly aren’t skate areas. Melbourne central is an indoor  shopping centre and flinders street is a busy train station. You cant actually skate these places. Birrarung Mar and Flagstaff gardens also have green dots. These are parks with grass and trees. The  footpaths are bare and there is nothing of interest to make people want to skate at these locations. This is why I would like to propose the idea of urban design in these areas to entice skaters to visit these Skate Safe Zones. Particulalry these park areas becuase there are fewer people walking. This product may be in the form of public seating that can be sat on by pedestrians and skated on by skateboarders.

This map is from http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/info.cfm?top=43&pa=659&pg=660

I will be skating around the city taking photos of  these proposed Safe skate areas and will make my own map of the CBD.

Urban Design

April 29, 2009

I have been researching ‘Skate Safe’ which is a program set up by the ‘City of Melbourne’ to manage and promote safe skating around Melbourne city. Moreover, it is an initiative that educates skaters about the use of safety equipment and SAFE SKATE ROUTES to navigate and move through the City.

Skate Safe routes are what I’ll be focusing on for this project. I’d like to encourage safe skating in particular areas through urban design. This may be a piece public seating that is compatible with skateboarders and pedestrians. Ledges, stairs and poles such as bike racks may be utilised and reconfigured for a wider range of uses. The major project could also possibly be a signalling device that alerts pedestrians and warns them when skateboarders are present. Perhaps it is a device that enables skaters to manage their speed. I will continue researching Skate Safe Routes and Urban design as this has the most potential for my Major project.

Skate Bin

Skate Bin

TopSkip is a hire company that leases bins. These people have found a new purpose for an old dump.

The Rolling Bench

The Rolling Bench

Designed by Korean firm Sungwoo Par. I think this is a really nice example of public seating design. No more wet bums on rainy days. I’ll let the image explain the rest.

Footpath Wars

April 29, 2009

Pedestrians have been battling skateboarders in their fight to rule public footpaths (particularly in the city). The clash has been ongoing since the skateboards invention in the 1950’s when “sidewalk surfers” curved up the streets of L.A. Skaters seem to be losing the battle as many councils outlaw the use of skateboards on busy city streets. Melbourne city councils are fairly tolerant of skateboarders on public footpaths. However some citizens aren’t as eager to share the footpath with skaters.

Id says that there is a negative stigma attached to skateboarding. Skaters are seen as hoodlums. A bunch of misled youths with nothing else to do, going around intimidating people. This is far from the truth. Most people that skate are well educated individuals that don’t intend to cause any harm. They are simply trying to skate and have fun. Because of the nature of the sport, fast and dangerous, people have a preconceived notion these people are reckless. I will admit that if a skater collides with a pedestrian then the skater will most likely be the first one to bounce back onto their feet. But the skater is not intentionally trying to mow people down. And one could argue that riding a bike on a busy foot path is just as dangerous as a riding a skateboard on the footpath. Riding a bike on the road is also dangerous for the rider. The solution to this was to create dedicated bike lanes by the side of the road. Not on every road, just along main routes. So, could the answer to the footpath wars between skateboards and pedestrians be solved with a dedicated skate lane, who knows? Seeing one on every roadside would be completely unfeasible and unnecessary. But what if there were designated pathways along KNOWN main skate routes. For example from flinders street station to the Riverside skate park. (Along Swanston St, across Princess bridge and down the south bank of the Yarra through the Alexandra Gardens). This could help with traffic flow of skaters and could potentially reduce accidents including collisions with pedestrians. However, even if there were designated pathways I doubt skaters would want to use them. They rarely follow instructions or obey signs, so it is unlikely they will want to follow the lines painted on the ground. There would need to be another way of enticing skaters to use these paths. Instead of banning skateboarding on footpaths all together, why not control it by encouraging it in one particular area or route. This encouragement may come in many forms…

Bike Lanes- Princess Bridge (Swanston st)

Bike Lanes- Princess Bridge (Swanston st)

Too Much?

Technology

April 28, 2009

Technology plays a large role in the production and presentation stages of the project. I will be focusing on technologies that are used in the skateboard manufacturing industry; laminating and cold pressing. I will be working primarily with timber and layers of ply veneer. These materials are also used in the furniture design industry but with similar construction techniques. Steam bending is another method I have been researching and have included in the technology essay.

Laminating and steam bending are old technique used to achieve fluid-like forms with rigid material. Because laminating and steam bending are old process it means a lot of it is done by hand. There are many DIY tutorials and information available on these processes. One of the main ideas I’d like to emphasis is the evolution of skateboard construction, so I would incorporate traditional manufacturing techniques. Handmade rigs and moulds become tools that are used to manipulate the material. Tools will be just as important as the process. I hope to learn some of these skills by watching experienced craftsman (and women) build furniture. I have made a list of possible timber workshops that I can visit over the next few weeks. Hopefully this exposure gives me enough insight and I will be able to use these construction methods in the second semester.

Timber Strip Furniture

Abbotsford

Wilkins and Kent (Furniture workshop)

Brunswick st

RMIT- TAFE furniture design workshop

CLICK HERE to view my technology essay.

Mid Semester Research

April 15, 2009

This is the research I did over the Easter holidays. I was looking at skateboards as a device that allows people to express their creativity. Whether it is the graphics on their boards or the stickers on the walls and ramps around them. I did a user study down at the Melbourne city skate park (riverside skate park). I found it interesting how people personalised the boards not just during the assembly/ purchasing stages. It was a continual thing that happened until they broke the board or gave it away. I started to ask a few question and found out that the average life of a board was barely 1 month. I was thinking at least 6 months. (I will be doing a questionnaire to get some exact figures).  I found this interesting as it was more of a consumer driven sport than I had first imagined. There is definitely an importance placed on “staying updated”.  In the skateboard world there is a fine line between being “fresh” and being a “try-hard”. It is the same for companies designing for this demographic. It is a fine line to walk and the difference between a product being accepted and successful or it being a complete failure. I do want to design a device for skaters, but I want to avoid this world that is dictated so much by the cut-throat fashion industry.  There are some interesting avenues that I would like to continue in the next stage of research. These include sustainability, recycling and disposal, construction and assembly, User & Producer. I like the relationship between the user and the object. The notion that the user can interact with object and have control over how it will be used is still an underlying concept in this project. I will carry these concepts into my next stage of research- Technology.

Click here to view my research presentation pages.  HERE!

User Study Research- Riverside Skatepark

April 15, 2009