June 2020, full in lockdown, the largest skating rink in the Netherlands opens in Amsterdam. With a surface area of 3200 m2 driveable poured concrete, the course is located in a park-like setting of 1.5 ha. The artificial landscape skate park is intended for both beginners and advanced skaters and is suitable for skaters, but also for BMXers, scooters and inline and roller skates. The landscape around the course is modeled in such a way that there is a view of the course from every point in the parc, but also of the surrounding greenery.
The Sportheldenbuurt (literally translated as The Sports heroes neighbourhood) is the first residential area on the Zeeburgereiland, an island that is located just within the Eastern ring A10 of Amsterdam. With 2500 homes, a primary school and two secondary schools, this district will be completed in 2022. The Sluisbuurt will be developed on the west side of the Sportheldenbuurt in the coming years.
The skatepark is part of the Urban Sport Zone. An area of 3.8 hectares where a fitness track, playgrounds and publicly accessible sports fields will be realized later this year.
The skate park is the first part of the Urban Sport Zone and was realized following an initiative by an Amsterdam skater. Subsequently, the idea was then taken up by the councilor for sports, Eric v.d. Burg, who agreed with the initiator that money should be invested in emerging sports that can be practiced in public space and for which membership of a club is not necessary.
The design is the outcome of an intensive participation process, in which both future residents and future users were consulted. Local residents were positive from the start. One of their conditions was that a landscape had to be assemblaged that would be attractive to everyone. For example, seating and playing facilities for non-skaters were a must and the paths around the track would be unattractive to skate on, so that people could take a quiet walk without having to veer from skaters. The integration of the track in a green environment was set as the most important condition by residents.
The challenge of the landscape design was to merge the section of the skating rink with the surrounding greenery, so that they would form a whole together. The height differences of the skating rink was extended to the surrounding park. This creates a hilly landscape that is alternately green and then paved again. The landscape looks like patchwork where color indicates its use. Gray where you can skate and green where you can walk and play.
The Danish agency Gliffberg / Lykke was appointed for the section of the skate course. They modeled the track according to the wishes of future skaters, within the given outlines of the shape and location in the landscape. Spectacular height differences were the outcome to which the surrounding greenery is connected.
Because skating is not just about skating itself, but also involves a lifestyle, the Urban Sportzone has been developed into a multicultural, inclusive public space in the past year.
Every day of the week, the place is visited by a great diversity of young people from within and outside Amsterdam who come into contact with each other at this place. The elderly also know how to find their way to Zeeburgereiland. Every day, the benches around the track are occupied by curious (and sometimes concerned) parents.
The corona pandemic shows more than ever how valuable the park had become to bring people together and in contact with one another in an outside environment . The presence of a great diversity of recreational opportunities in an attractive green setting ensures a diverse audience. Especially now that people feel the need to go out for a while, but options are limited, this public space is heavily frequented and social ties are strengthened. Connections are made here between peers, now that this is no longer possible via school and the nightlife. The urban sports zone is the ideal place for self-expression. To show what you can do, but also to transfer and pass this on to others.
The design provides an accessible public space where greenery and movement are central. Due to the presence of play areas, children who do not skate can also enjoy themselves. This is probably also one of the reasons why the place is also frequently visited by families.
Functions should benefit from each other as much as possible. For example, the 5.5-meter-high hill in the park, in which the deep bowl is located in the counter-shape, was used last winter as a descent for sledding, whereas snowboarding was done on the “bacon strips” on the track. The lawns around the track are perfect for a picnic, but also for kicking a ball or a workout. The waste water pumping station is used as a climbing wall.
The plants in the park can take a beating given the intensive use of the adjacent areas. A combination of perennials with grasses has been chosen to create an attractive image all year round.
The trees planted are of a large size, so that from the moment of planting to when the site was put into use, there was an immediate green surrounding frame of the 3200 m2 of concrete.
Within a year, the Urban Sport Zone has grown into one of the most inclusive public places in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam shows that more is needed in a new neighborhood than just a residential function to make a neighborhood dynamic and alive.
The Urban Sport Zone provides a new, transcending eye-catcher that puts Amsterdam on the map as an inclusive, moving city!
Role of the entrant in the project: Iris van der Helm landscape designer at the municipality of the city of Amsterdam urban planning and sustainability
Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: Glyffberg Lykke, Denmark.
Tiles designed by Arno Coenen en Iris Roskam
Project location: Eef Kamerbeekstraat Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Design year: 2018/2019
Year Built: 2019/2020