'Skate the Strand' park

‘Skate the Strand’: London’s West End transformed into pop-up skate park

One of London’s busiest streets has swapped cars for skates.

A section of the Strand has been closed to traffic and transformed into a temporary skatepark where Londoners can enjoy free shows and lessons, in a bid to green the capital’s streets.

The park, a collaboration between Westminster City Council, Somerset House and the shoe brand Vans, is open between September 8 and September 24. 

Helena Long, professional skateboarder and gallery supervisor at Somerset House who helped come up with the idea, said: “I think London is pretty but there is a lot of hostile architecture. 

“A skatepark is inspiring to look at and it inspires you to use the public space in a different way, rather than just sitting and eating lunch.”

The skatepark, located right outside the entrance to Somerset House, is being trialed as the council works out how best to pedestrianise the street. 

It also coincides with Somerset House’s ‘No Comply, Skate Culture and Community’ exhibition, which focuses on the skateboarding scene and how it shapes London and other cities.

Long believes skateboarding is a unique way to get people to engage with the city.

She said: “The park is something we as skateboarders respect because it’s rare, and we feel grateful to have it and we are careful about our surroundings.

“Having been to the park a few times and working at Somerset House and the exhibitions, people stop and watch and they really love it.”

Agnieszka Aga Wood, 47, founder of the social enterprise EVERYONE ON BOARDS, says skateboarding has a positive impact on young people’s mental health.

She said: “Not everybody is able to afford skating lessons, and the Strand is giving the perfect opportunity for kids to access skateboarding for free. 

“I want to create an amazing ecosystem where everybody is happy and coexisting.”

The park brings together skating architectural forms and public spaces, bringing innovative visual engagement to the city. 

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