Does your Grandma use a skate park? If her local is Alexandria’s new Sydney Park Skate Park, then the answer is probably yes.
Gone are the days when skate parks were the sole domain of rowdy adolescents. The new skate park, designed by GroupGSA and Convic, is a drawcard even for those who won’t be dropping into a three-metre bowl anytime soon. The colour, movement and excitement of watching others in action creates a free outdoor theatre that is proving hugely popular with all sectors of the community.
The Olympics influenced park has just received gold in the DRIVENxDESIGN GOV Design Awards 2021.
Sydney Park Skate Park was integrated into the existing 41ha regional park in Alexandria, forming part of the City of Sydney’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan.
GroupGSA Project Design Director Steve Hammond says the site was chosen with this intent. “We didn’t want the skate park tucked away out of view. We located it right on Sydney Road so that activity in the park is visible from the street. On the other side, a grassy hill creates a natural amphitheatre, where people can sit, have a picnic and check out the thrills and spills playing out below.”
At any time of day, a visit to the Skate Park finds people of all ages spread across the expansive facility. Dads hand down advice to helmet-clad daughters whilst elderly dog-walkers look on from the adjacent Sydney Park circuit path, completed as part of the project. Floodlights extend the park’s utility from day into night and ensure a safe environment for all.
GroupGSA’s landscape architecture team worked closely with specialist skate park designers Convic to create an attractive and inclusive place. Positioned next to an existing children’s bike track, the skate park caters to wheels of every kind, including bikes, scooters and roller blades. A progression of spaces moves from beginner level up to an Olympic-standard deep bowl, which sits apart from the plaza.
Steve says the bowl was an extension of the brief. “Through consultation with the skateboarding community, we identified that the deep bowl would widen the skate park’s appeal and add the potential for hosting competitions.” City of Sydney agreed, and the park now draws skaters from far and wide.
GroupGSA has cleverly woven the surrounding park into the sports facility. Trees and garden beds within the skate park break up the hard landscape and connect visually to the surrounding green. As the trees grow, the skate park will further nestle into its Sydney Park setting.
Colour, texture and materials give the park its unique identity. “We spent a lot of time working on colour,” says Steve. “We settled on a yellow palette that is subtly used in the concrete to break up the grey. Pops of colour are used on the skate rails and bowl edges and amplified on the shade shelters.”
The vibrant shade shelters act as beacons for spectators, inviting them to enter. Brick paving – a nod to Sydney Park’s iconic brick chimney stacks – defines the spectator spaces and provides a visual distinction between skating and non-skating areas. Timber seating adds warmth and interest, and at night, integrated feature lighting enlivens the plaza.
City of Sydney’s Senior Design Manager Lisa Dodd says the new skate park has delivered on the City’s ambitions, creating an intergenerational hub. “GroupGSA’s landscape design has been the key to creating a space where all community members feel welcome,” says Lisa. “It really adds value to the wider park.” Her advice to other councils looking to build a skate park? “Just do it!”