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Vanessa Udriot - when architecture, art, and skating meet

When you start skateboarding, you begin to see your environment and the city under a different light : you see and look for spots around you. Yet, as skaters we're not always welcome everywhere as we 'noisily damage' the city. A way to reconcile with the public is to design structures that could be used by skaters and passersby alike. Vanessa Udriot, an architect, artist, and skater from Switzerland had the opportunity to explore the concept of skate-urbanism, and create a skateable sculpture in Lausanne. Through her structure she gives the space to skaters to regain agency in the streets.

Text by Solenne Roger

Photos by Vanessa Udriot and Prune Simon-Vermot

Vanessa creates structures that combines her modernist influence with its often abstract, geometrical, and cubist-inspired sculptures to her perception of 'skate-urbanism'. She views this concept as (a) structure(s) that makes you want to skate without having a first thought of ‘ah it was made to be skated’. In her words: "the perfect sculpture should inspire the movement, the trick". So she creates things that allow her to do inward heels - her favourite trick.

"The perfect sculpture should inspire the movement, the trick."

Inspired by the landscape architect Walter Bischoff who rethought this public park in the 1970s, her sculpture 4 ETAPES is composed of 4 concrete blocks. These asymmetric structures reflect the multifunctionality sought by Vanessa for this artistic composition. The blocks can be used by passersby to play, sit, or read - or by skaters as ledges, manual pads, or even as something to gap.

In collaboration with Eliah Cand and Jordan Queijo, Vanessa initiated the creation of a short video explaining her intentions through the creation of this sculpture and it being skated.

While skate-urbanism will never replace the feeling of going street skating, it can be used as a way to find arrangements and make compromises with a city. Imagine reconciling skaters with the complaining neighbours and the city itself, rewriting the narrative from a delinquent to a respectable random guy with a board.

Cities like Bordeaux and Copenhagen are already implementing this idea in their planning, and we all know how cool it is to skate there. We get our spots without getting kicked out so easily, the passersby are hyped, we're given the green light for cool events in the streets… What else can we ask for?