Dec 31, 2007



Project NameSkateistan Skate Park
LocationKabul, Afghanistan
End User330 students weekly
ClientSkateistan, Director Oliver Percovich
Design FirmsConvic Design, IOU Ramps
EngineerEngineer Moheen, Afghanyar Construction Company Ltd; Engineer Reza, Afghan National Olympic Committee
Skate Park ConstructionAndreas Schützenberger, IOU Ramps
FundersEmbassy of Denmark; Embassy of Norway; Embassy of Germany; Nike Inc; Architecture for Humanity; Skateistan Denmark, Germany, Poland and USA; various individuals
Cost$617 303 USD
Area1800 sq m/19 380 sq ft

Murza Mohammadi performs a rock-n-roll to “fakie” on the mini ramp. Photo: Jacob Simkin/Skateistan

It is hard enough to get cities to implement permanent skate facilities—to do it in a place ravaged by destruction caused by civil wars and foreign invasions is a pretty radical idea. In June 2009, a coalition of local and international skateboarders came together to break ground in Kabul, Afghanistan, on the Skateistan Skate Park. Today, hundreds of local kids hit the ramps and half-pipes at this safe haven each week.

The project grew out of informal skateboarding sessions at an abandoned fountain in Kabul’s Mekroyan district. In 2007, Australian skaters Oliver Percovich and Sharna Nolan were joined by a number of local kids from the area. The group soon turned into a posse of young skaters and “Ollie” and Sharna decided to form Skateistan, the country’s first coed skateboarding school.

Fazila Shirindl skating the ramps. Photo: Jacob Simkin/Skateistan

As skateboarding is one of the few non-combat sports in Afghanistan, the team soon discovered that it was attractive to both girls and boys. However local customs prohibited girls over 12 from skating in public. Percovich and Nolan decided to tackle this head on by building an indoor skate park, and to their surprise, the country’s largest indoor sports facility.

With land donated by the Afghan National Olympic Committee and assistance from various government, corporate and private donors, the dream slowly became a reality. A local construction company built the Quonset hut-inspired structure for a reduced rate.

Australian skate park builders Convic Design were enlisted to work on an outdoor park and IOU Ramps from Germany agreed to build the ramps. Like many on the construction team, Andreas “Schutzi” Schützenberger, founder and director of IOU Ramps, was a little concerned at first but leaped into action.

Construction was no easy task. Tools and materials had to be shipped in from overseas, electricity would go out for long periods of time, and eye protection for local welders were little more than basic sunglasses. Once the heavy lifting was done the team added a little flavor to the park. A local volunteer was talking to a waiter at a nearby restaurant and heard about a man outside of town who had a few old Russian rockets in his backyard. “I always try to bring a little magic into the park and I thought a rocket would be unbelievable to put in,” Schutzi says. Within 24 hours, Skateistan had its signature ramp, the rocket wall.

While the complex is surrounded by fences with sniper screens and guards to protect the youth inside, the turmoil outside is forgotten as Pashtun youth share their boards with Tajiks and Hazaras. The center includes classrooms for after-school programs and access to computer training. For an hour in the park, kids spend an hour in the classrooms.

The building has few openings to protect the youth from snipers and gunfire. Photo: Jacob Simkin/Skateistan

Go Skateboarding Day in Kabul. Photo: Jacob Simkin/Skateistan

Local skaters Wahila Mahmodi (L) and Fazila Shirindl (R). Photo Credit: Rhianon Bader/Skateistan

Noorzai Ibrahimi jumps a ramp. Photo: Rhianon Bader/Skateistan


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