Yinka Ilori’s colourful skatepark in France is a pillar of the community

Yinka Ilori’s colourful skatepark in France is a pillar of the community

Sport, street art and community merge in Yinka Ilori’s skatepark in Roubaix, project that is part of Lille’s World Capital of Design 2020

British-Nigerian Yinka Ilori presents the Colorama Skatepark, a new project created in Roubaix, France, as part of Lille’s World Capital of Design 2020. Sport and street art merge in this characteristically colourful space, featuring modular artworks which serve as the structure for the space.

The skatepark by Ilori is part of cultural centre La Condition Publique, a creative laboratory in Roubaix merging art, urbanism and environmental sustainability. It takes over ‘Halle B’, a 1550 m² area inside a 20th century warehouse renovated by French architect Patrick Bouchain in 2004, and previously used for exhibitions and events. The institution’s brief was simple: to bring together different audiences and create a space that’s inclusive.

Yinka Ilori Skatepark Lille

‘Skateboarding is a unique art form on its own,’ says Ilori. ‘It’s performative: there’s an audience, you’re doing tricks. So there is that element of display and flamboyancy - it’s quite a big thing to watch.’ The designer learned from a team of professional skateboarders, working closely with them for guidance throughout the process, which often made him reconsider his design choices.

‘I think as designers, we have to understand that sometimes we’re not designing only for ourselves, but for the people,’ he says. ‘This was quite a collaborative process, which I’m really grateful for.’

‘I guess the takeaway for me is, never underestimate the power of the community, and of people coming together to play.’

Ilori’s design features different modules including ramps, partitions and blocks, and integrated the newly designed elements within the existing space through colour. The modules, as well as the structural columns and brick walls were painted in a tonal palette featuring pops of gold and fluorescent hues combined with earthy shades. The design was in part inspired by the building’s 19th century façade, characterised by lacquered tiles that Ilori recreated as a motif on the walls.

Yinka Ilori Skatepark Lille

‘I wanted to create a space that is joyful and inclusive, and that allows room for stories to be told and created. That’s why I use colour, to create memories,’ he continues. For the designer, it was important to create a space that would become a pillar of the community, a safe space for local children: ‘skateboarding is not only about skating, but it’s also about being part of a community, it’s also being part of a family,’ he says. 

Further cementing the skatepark’s role in Roubaix, two classes from the local high school took part in the project’s construction, and the park also offered an opportunity for youth employment, with new ad-hoc apprenticeship positions. ‘The kids came down to help us build and paint as well, it was great to get their input as well and I think there are also future designers and makers here,’ adds Ilori. ‘I guess the takeaway for me is, never underestimate the power of the community, and of people coming together to play.’ §

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