Constructing Innovative Skater-boarding Parks

By Tara John [1]

Janne Saario says his life rarely veers from stake-boarding.  The breezy 33-year-old Finn has turned skating into a calling.  He’s become one of the few landscape architects in the world with a practice focused on creating tasteful and well-designed skate parks for young people, breaking away from the brutalist stereotype of blunt concrete slopes and pyramids.

Skate-boarding's Landscape Architect Janne Saario

Skate-boarding’s Landscape Architect Janne Saario

His site-specific parks scattered around northern European cities, draw heavily from their natural surroundings.  Micropolis in Helsinki is a plot more than half an acre large that uses tine corridors of grass and trees to blend geometric obstacles with the surrounding greenery.  In Lulea, Sweden, Saario turned giant ball bearings into boulders, junked-steel beams into benches and 26.5-ton ladle into the park’s centerpiece–a nod to the town’s steel industry.  Saario is part of a new breed of designers who eschew ego and the “super-consumption” of materials like nonbiodegradable plastics in favor of recycled material and natural elements.

Skate-boarding Park in Lulea, Sweden

Skate-boarding Park in Lulea, Sweden

It wasn’t money that drove him to design 35 skate parks in the span of a decade, but rather a desire to turn urban spaces into places for teenagers–especially those who don’t identify with conventional sports–to express themselves.

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[1]  Time, 17 Oct 2016, p. 49

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