Skateboarding, space and the city

Skateboarding, Space and the City is a skateboarding/architectural book that explores the relationship between the subculture and activity of skateboarding within the urban environment.

“The first and still the most comprehensive study to date of a subject which is often dismissed as child’s play, but which in fact has made a significant and unique contribution to urban culture over the past 40 years. Dealing with issues of architectural design, subcultural identity and urban experience, the book Skateboarding, Space and the City (2001) by Iain Borden shows how skateboarding involves various histories of youth culture, the architectural design of skateparks, technological inventions, graphics and product design, and the politics of space in cities today. A heavily revised and updated version of the book is currently being prepared, and will be published in 2018 as Skateboarding and the City: a Complete History.” You can read more about research aims, context and methods on this website.

My reaction from reading the book:

Skateboarding, Space and the city was the first book about architecture/skateboarding that I´ve read and I really appreciate the book because it acknowledges skateboarding and goes beyond the regular architectural books. The book addresses the urban realm through skateboarder´s relation to it, and its manifestation through skateboarding culture. The book had a great impact on how I am perceiving architecture and skateboarding.

The back cover:

Skateboarders are an increasingly common feature of the urban environment – recent estimates total 40 million world-wide. We are all aware of their often extraordinary talent and maneuvers on the city streets. This book is the first detailed study of the urban phenomenon of skateboarding. It looks at skateboarding history from the surf-beaches of California in the 1950s, through the purpose-built skateparks of the 1970s, to the street-skating of the present day and shows how skateboarders experience and understand the city through their sport. Dismissive of authority and convention, skateboarders suggest that the city is not just a place for working and shopping but a true pleasure-ground, a place where the human body, emotions  and energy can be expressed to the full.

The huge skateboarding subculture that revolves around graphically-designed clothes and boards, music, slang and moves provide a rich resource for exploring issues of gender, race, class, sexuality and the family. As the author demonstrates, street-style skateboarding, especially characteristic of recent decades, conducts a performative critique of architecture, the city and capitalism. Anyone interested in the history and sociology of sport, urban geography or architecture will find this book riveting.

Do you want to know more?

Interview with Ian Borden

Comprehensive review of the book



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