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Compass

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At the beginning there was the thought of how to develop skateboarding around LAAX in summer. With the Team Trouble we have established quite a nice event and with a solid network of friends throughout Europe. Also had we used the old snowboard ramps to mess around and make skate obstacles out of them and we had friends visiting us on some heavy tours through the alps. Maybe it was all the creative skating we got to see in the last years, maybe it’s our relation to the DIY movement, we always had an interest to use what we can improvise with and come up with something new.

Building ramps that don’t have the average skatepark blueprints and rather look like sculptures certainly isn’t something new. It’s part of the creative evolution of skateboarding. Neither is the idea of building ramps into nature. We’ve seen countless miniramps in the woods, haven’t we? Yet, there’s something about thinking which shapes would make sense in the Swiss Alps. In a rather harsh environment, not that easy accessible, but to which many are drawn to exactly because of its raw nature. All that said, it did make sense to think about what a first such thing could look like.

The Compass is a sculptural landmark, designed and built by Nicolas Büchi and Joos Caviezel. During Summer 2023 it stood some 2300 meters high above sea level, pointing not northwards, but to the Crap Sogn Gion, the epicenter and birthplace of freestyle culture in LAAX. It can equally be understood as a modern art sculpture as well as an obstacle to skate on. Contrasting the nature of the Swiss Alps with its distorted, almost comicesque shape, it evokes curiosity among skateboarders as well as the average hiking mountaineer. The wooden structure is made solely of upcycled materials and can also be regarded as prototype, which served as study subject to gather feedback and create visual imagery in order to demonstrate the potential of an exchange about design in an alpine region.

Long story short, having set up this prototype proved quite successful to us. The imagery speaks for itself and the feedback we got from non-skaters and skaters alike was mainly positive. However, what turned out to be the most interesting part – at least to me – was the feedback we got after we forwarded the pictures documenting the project to a number of experts in their respective fields; designers, architects, artists, urbanists. We asked for a spontaneous reaction, maybe a comment and got back a number of visions which exceeds all our expectation. These selected works of Vanessa Udriot, Helen Wyss, Rich Holland, Nicolas Buechi, Pierre Descamps and Stefan Stuchlik help us envisioning ways to bring more sculptural work mixed with skateboarding to LAAX. On and at the bottom of the mountain.

The photography in this article covers two sessions on the Compass: the first included a moist foggy morning, quite a few adjustments to make the rather wobbly sculpture skateable and having the guys slowly getting used to it. The footage can be seen in Nicolas Buechi’s documenting his own sculpture. The second session covered an afternoon with the Rock’N’Rollas during one of their FINTA weekends. After we took a quick look it became pretty clear that the girls would spend the whole day there and Irene Schweizer got enough footage in to make her own delicate edit. We do hope that their great work and everybody’s support is convincing enough to have us build a number of new sculptures next summer. And then get you all to Team Trouble again to share the result!!!

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