Freedom Skatepark in Accra, Ghana, is an undulating creative haven for urban youth

The project is a collaborative venture between Limbo Accra, Surf Ghana, Daily Paper, Saloni Parekh, Hive Earth, Wonders Around the World, and the late Virgil Abloh.

by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Jan 22, 2022

In the urbanising West African metropolis of Accra, in Ghana, a collective of multiple parties consisting of spatial design studio Limbo Accra, skate and surf collective Surf Ghana, rammed earth construction specialists Hive Earth, menswear label Daily Paper, architect Saloni Parekh, and NGO Wonders Around the World have realised the country’s first ever skate park. Envisioned as a means of engaging with the city’s youth through the lens of the skateboarding culture, the Freedom Skatepark’s successful realisation was also boosted by the efforts of the late Virgil Abloh who was a prominent supporter of the initiative. As children and adolescents in urban areas are in dire need of public spaces, the project is a pertinent statement on the ability of a recreational urban space to unite people and cultivate a greater sense of civic responsibility and pride within young minds in local communities.

  • The skatepark is the result of a collaboration between Limbo Accra, Surf Ghana, Daily Paper, Hive Earth, Saloni Parekh, and NGO Wonders Around the World | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
    The skatepark is the result of a collaboration between Limbo Accra, Surf Ghana, Daily Paper, Hive Earth, Saloni Parekh, and NGO Wonders Around the World Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra
  • Freedom Skatepark was developed with the aim of bringing skateboarding to the city’s youth, with a ‘Skatehouse’ HQ hosting a gallery and skate shop | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
    Freedom Skatepark was developed with the aim of bringing skateboarding to the city’s youth, with a ‘Skatehouse’ HQ hosting a gallery and skate shop Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra
  • As an urban public space, the skate park is intended to act as a hub for creative communities while facilitating networking opportunities | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
    As an urban public space, the skate park is intended to act as a hub for creative communities while facilitating networking opportunities Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra

The brainchild of Sandra Alibo, who was the driving force behind the project as founder of Surf Ghana, this undertaking in public space design was launched with the aim of bringing skateboarding to the limelight in Ghana’s urban sphere, while offering networking opportunities for its young residents. Surf Ghana itself is an organisation dedicated to this purpose of interacting with the city’s young residents and educating them about the benefits of engaging with the sport.

The design walks a fine line between being completely ‘skateable’ and providing pockets of green space in the city | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
The design walks a fine line between being completely ‘skateable’ and providing pockets of green space in the city Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra

Bridging gaps in the recreational landscape of Accra by merging skate culture with the interests of creative communities in its vicinity, Freedom Skatepark will offer a community planted green area, a skateshop, and a co-working hub built with contemporary and local construction techniques, as part of its on-site facilities. Speaking with STIR, Dominique Petit-Frère, Co-Founder of Copenhagen, Accra, and New York-based studio Limbo Accra shares, “The design straddles the line between two big ambitions: one where everything is ‘skateable’ and the other where everything is open, green and recreational.”

Its undulating concrete surface hosts an assortment of elements and functional zones catering to various aspects of skate culture | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
Its undulating concrete surface hosts an assortment of elements and functional zones catering to various aspects of skate culture Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra

In this vein, these objectives are accomplished through a skateable access pathway, which winds around the park’s various zones which include a skate hub, ramps, grind rails for skaters, and sloped surfaces. The core aim of this configuration is to nudge users to explore the venue by making their way ‘through’ the skate park rather than 'around' its periphery, facilitating avenues for interaction between visitors. Pockets of landscape are embedded into the park’s undulating concrete surface, which ebbs and flows to allow for smooth transitions between a multitude of program areas. This topography was achieved through a 150mm concrete surface layer spread over an 8-10mm reinforcement layer resting on compacted topsoil.

Rails, slopes, and ramps have all been incorporated into the design | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
Rails, slopes, and ramps have all been incorporated into the design Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra

Bordered by a bustling highway on its public-facing side, the development is also home to a ‘Skatehouse’ building, which will effectively function as the skatepark's headquarters. In its role as a public space open to the city’s youth, the building is intended to act as a laboratory for social change, containing a workshop, gallery, and a skate shop, within two structural volumes separated by a garden. Petit-Frère mentions, “For the Skatepark HQ in particular, we made a decision to showcase local building styles in a contemporary-youth format by collaborating with Hive Earth, a Ghanaian-based rammed earth specialist company who donated 197 sqm of rammed earth walls to the structure and surrounding park landscape.”

  • The space and its attached ‘Skatehouse’ building aims to serve as a laboratory for social change among the city’s youth | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
    The space and its attached ‘Skatehouse’ building aims to serve as a laboratory for social change among the city’s youth Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra
  • Freedom Skatepark is a pertinent intervention in developing cities lacking public spaces of recreation | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
    Freedom Skatepark is a pertinent intervention in developing cities lacking public spaces of recreation Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra
  • As a prominent supporter of the project, the late Virgil Abloh was honoured by the park’s stakeholders during its opening | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
    As a prominent supporter of the project, the late Virgil Abloh was honoured by the park’s stakeholders during its opening Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra

One of the most eminent supporters of the skate park’s realisation was the late Virgil Abloh, Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection and Founder of the Milan-based luxury design label Off White. Abloh boosted the project’s visibility on his social media profiles while also facilitating interactions with sponsors and designing aspects of the project’s visual identity and merchandise. “It was an honor to have worked with Virgil Abloh’s London-based design studio Alaska Alaska, who accepted our invitation to co-develop the interior design scheme and park furniture. It has been truly a beautiful exchange for us as a design studio, as it allowed us to bridge together the old and new in a contemporary format fitted for Africa’s youth, “ remarks Petit-Frère. The project’s stakeholders also honoured Abloh by inscribing his name on one of the development’s bounding walls during the park’s opening - an event marked by performances by local DJs and other ceremonies.

  • Longitudinal Section | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
    Longitudinal Section Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra
  • Transverse Section | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
    Transverse Section Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra
  • Detail | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
    Detail Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra

As sports such as skateboarding and surfing gain greater prominence in urban areas within developing nations, through the tireless efforts of organisations such as Surf Ghana, they have also become a means to build communities, empower youth, and guide them towards productive pursuits, competing with established sports such as football in this regard. Freedom Skatepark is but the first phase of a larger development that will provide an inclusive public space and cultural centre to nurture the interests of Ghanaian youth in the nation’s capital city. “Freedom Skatepark is designed to be a bustling space and a new urban site for the whole of Ghana: inspired globally but created locally,” concludes Petit-Frère.

Conceptual Collage | Freedom Skatepark | Limbo Accra | STIRworld
Conceptual Collage Image: Courtesy of Limbo Accra

Project Details

Name: Freedom Skatepark Ghana
Location: Shiashie, East Legon, Accra, Ghana
Area: 1463 sqm
Design Team: Limbo Accra, Wonders Around the World
Architect: Saloni Parekh, Hakeem Mustapha, Margarida Waco
Landscape Architect: Malthe Mørck Clausen
Engineer: Jonas Ras Pazdzior
Collaborators: Hive Earth, Alaska Alaska, and Space Accra

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