CONS SPACE 001 BCN Gives New Scale to DIY Skate Design
In Barcelona, art and skateboarding collide. The steps of the Museum of Contemporary Art form one of the world's most iconic spots, in line with London's South Bank, Philadelphia's Love Park, and San Francisco's Embarcadero. A decade of skate films has reinforced the nature of the locale and given it "classic" status.
"Where do you do the trick? What is the atmosphere? The surroundings of the trick?" Pontus Alv, the Swedish DIY don, pontificates from a single chair situated in an empty shipping container we're using as a makeshift wind shelter. The weather and our location—deep in the city's industrial docklands far removed from the bustling Raval area and Richard Meier's museum-cum-skateboard temple—isn't prototypical Barca skate. For Alv, this is good. He's interested in something with a fresh look. "Places not many people go," Alv says of where he likes to build and skate. "This is something totally new."
It's pretty epic as a spot, because you never really get to be in this type of location.
This out of the way location is where Converse has chosen to build its inaugural CONS SPACE—the first part of a new initiative designed to unite skate, music, art, and style. In collaboration with fellow Converse Skateboarding ambassadors Kenny Anderson and Javier Mendizábal, Alv's input has helped transform a dilapidated area at the base of the escarpment of Montjuïc into a creative playground.
"It started off as…whatever scraps were left at the docks—all this scrap metal, palettes, flatbeds, and containers—we could make whatever we want," explains Anderson. "Basically, use the available material to make a skateable space. Pontus sent his drawings and they were so amazing, I agreed with them. I ended up designing the Star and Chevron."
These ideas were translated from paper to tangible objects by a man named Badger. With a background in architecture and design, Badger was charged with Nike SB and 6.0 activations before leaving England and heading to Sweden, where he spent 3 years in a sort of self-inflicted sabbatical. Given his legacy, it takes something a bit special to get him back in action. "It's pretty epic as a spot," he says of CONS SPACE 001 BCN, "because you never really get to be in this type of location."
"It was lots of fun getting the inspiration from Pontus and Kenny. I completely understand their perspective, especially Pontus'," Badger notes of the build process. "The DIY approach and group mentality of skateboarding is really raw. We've tried to keep that here using the poured concrete and jersey barriers. It aligns with what Pontus is about—I don't think any of this has been done from a brand perspective before."
The result was a tight-lined park incorporating a wave ramp, a trio of quarter-pipes placed on trailer flatbeds, and one magnificent gap produced with shipping containers. At center, Anderson's Star Chevron—a magnificent play on the Converse logo—anchored the space.
On May 18, the finished area hosted a jam complete with local artists (Txemi, Adrián Blanca, Fernando Elvira, and Rubén Sánchez) to international musicians (Crocodiles, The Bots, Black Lips, and Spank Rock). The Converse skate team navigated Alv and Anderson's obstacles, with each trick completed with a never-before-scene industrial shipping backdrop (and a few passing passenger cruise liners). For one night, it redefined what people think of Barcelona's skate culture.
"Skateboarding spots go, nothing lasts forever," reflected Alv. "It is good to take away a classic spot, it makes people restructure."
With the CONS SPACE series, Converse Skateboarding aims to restructure the potential of DIY activation and turn the design process into a conduit for creative cross-pollination. With one down, it looks like the project has some legs.