Learning from skaters about the public space

Published on: 20 Apr 2023

This summer, Rotterdam Architecture Month lands with a floating festival heart in the middle of the Maashaven. The festival heart consists of three huge floating barges, 76 metres long and 11 metres wide, one of which is dedicated to urban sports, like skateboarding, freerunning, football and dance.

From skating to dancing

The urban sports barge has a mini ramp, a freerunning course and a free area. Freerunner Onur Eren (RUSH World) designed the barge in collaboration with Studio Marco Vermeulen. Onur: “In the barge, we want to enable people to do different urban sports, but we want to ‘exhibit’ these sports too and encourage people to try them. Urban sports can have a positive impact on people and the city. They are good for your health, are inclusive because they cost nearly nothing and are open to everyone. As an urban sporter, you use and see the space around you very differently – the entire city is your playground.” The urban sports barge in the festival heart will be a lively place where different sports come together – from freerunning and skateboarding to street football and dance. The result is cross-fertilisation and meetings between sporters.

Various workshops and a Skates symposium

In partnership with RUSH World and Skateland, among others, (urban) sports related workshops and other events will be organised throughout the month of June, which will be open to everyone. On 7 June, in partnership with the Rotterdam Running Crew, the Maashaven Run will take place. This run starts and ends on the floating festival heart, also passing through the surrounding districts. And on Go Skateboarding Day (21 June), there is a Skate symposium. The world-renowned skater Leo Valls is coming specially to Rotterdam to talk about his work. In his home city of Bordeaux, he managed to engineer the transformation of this conservative city with its anti-skater urban design and policy into one where the municipality works successfully with skaters. What can we learn from skaters about the public space in Rotterdam?

Walking route over the water

Besides accommodating urban sports, the floating festival heart will also have a green park and room for lectures, debates, concerts and other events. The three barges are connected by a footbridge, which also acts as a long walking route and observation point over the water, the city and the three barges. At the same time, the route is an accessible outdoor exhibition which welcomes and informs visitors about the possibilities of building on water, the value of street culture for urban development and the importance of green for a growing city.

Nelson Mandelapark, SWA/Balsley

Test location for the Nelson Mandela Park.

The floating festival heart is located on the site of a brand-new urban park which is planned in a few years’ time: the Nelson Mandela Park. This park will also have plenty of space available for urban sports, games and events. In fact, this summer the festival heart will be a kind of test location, where visitors can already experience what it’s like to walk, play sports and listen to music here. And by sharing knowledge and working together during Rotterdam Architecture Month, energy will be generated and a network created for the further development of the Nelson Mandela Park.

Skate Free Hours

During the entire month of June there is an opportunity to skate for free at the festival hart during the skate free hours. There will be a schedule published on our website.