The making of Stapelbäddsparken

Article from 2005 originally printed in Kingpin Magazine.
Words and photos Nils Svensson.


What many people have been dreaming about for years and years is now becoming reality here in Sweden. The Malmö concrete skatepark “Stapelbäddsparken” has started to be built with its 2000 square meters of transitions, bowls, bumps, curbs, manual pads, stairs, rails and everything else you and me love to skate. It is all going to be there. Everything. Designed by the concrete guru Stefan Hauser of Placed to Ride Inc together with the skateboarders in Malmö, the park looks like it is going to be fantastic and please skateboarders of all kinds. It has been designed with all of skateboarding history in mind, from the 70s to present date and I am sure it will get some people to start skateboarding as well as getting old skaters back on their boards. It was supposed to be finished in the beginning of september but due to some smaller problems earlier this year it will probably be finished in october instead. But really, who cares, the most important thing is that it is actually happening. We have been waiting a long time and one or two months more makes no difference. This is a huge project and it is Malmö City that pays for the whole chabang with the taxpayers money. It has never felt better to pay taxes, I promise you!

The area for this development couldn’t be better located really. The skatepark is located in the west harbor, a newly developed residential area right by the sea, that is in itself kind of a huge skatepark with loads of nice spots. It is not far from the center of town either, maybe 5 minutes to the central station which is nice to know for all of you who will be traveling to Malmö to skate.

Bryggeriet Skatepark 2007.

With the groundwork already done a few years earlier with the success of Bryggeriet, the indoor skatepark in Malmö, things were a whole lot easier when it came to convincing the politicians and the people who are making the decisions. Bryggeriet has been around since 1998 and it has been a very important step in skateboarding in Malmö and in its region and the rest of Sweden, as it’s been a good example for others to follow. It’s not only the design of the park, or the quality of the ramps but the actual process of the project as a whole that is the most impressive part about it. To make a long story short it started out as an idea within a group of skaters in Malmö in the beginning of the 90’s, they formed a skateboard association, got organized, enlisted members, created some discussions in the public room, presented their ideas to the city and finally managed to gain their trust to design, build and manage the skatepark. This, that the city actually let the skateboarders be in charge of the project was and still is unique in many towns and countries. To listen and trust the youth and have a dialog with the skateboarders had in the past been out of the question. They were afraid of skateboarders. Skateboarders were (and still is) trouble that you saw on the streets, that you read about in the papers vandalizing and causing havoc. So yeah, this was a victory for us skaters. More often than not the city thinks that they know best and without consulting with the skateboarders they take matter into their own hands. This is when you suddenly find a two meters wide Rhinoramp in that area promised to be a fantastic new skate park. Sometimes the city/council doesn’t have any skateboarders to consult because there is no skateboarders that are interested in getting involved because they can’t be bothered or they don’t know any better. This is what needs to be changed. Only skateboarders knows what skateboarders want.

Tobias Henriksson frontside ollie at Savanna side 2003.

Tobias Henriksson has been working at Bryggeriet since day one and is one of the skaters that made Bryggeriet happen. He has been skateboarding almost 20 years.

”When I was a kid there was nothing. We were brought up building our ramps ourselves. We didn’t have any blueprints, no one to help us, we just had to imitate what we saw in the videos and magazines. So..the dudes in Thrashin are building their own ramp… will we. We created a whole skate scene ourselves, this is how we have been brought up and this has continued for the rest of our lives. If you want something to happen you have to do it yourself.”

“One of the key things about Bryggeriet and having a successful park is to make the park feel like it belongs to everyone. When we were building the park in the beginning we had most skaters in Malmö to come in and help out. This is how it works to this very day as well, a lot of work in the park is based on voluntarily work by the skaters. This way everyone treats it with respect and people are taking their responsibility. “

John Magnusson testing out the volcano in 2005.

The project leader behind the huge project that has become “Stapelbäddsparken” is Bryggeriets John Magnusson. John has also been skating for 20 years and has been working with this project for the last 4. He has been the one that has developed this idea to a full scale project and then gained the trust of the most important persons in Malmö to make this project reality. A good project needs a good project leader, someone that can direct the project in the right direction, design-wise, material-wise, construction-wise, and that can involve the right people.

“ It is probably every skaters dream to build a gigantic concrete skatepark filled with everything you could wish for. In Malmö we had after many years of traveling around europe developed an idea of a unique skatepark located by the water and surrounded by some nice green areas. We wanted to make it available to everyone by placing it in a surrounding where lots of different kinds of people were, like a big public park. “ says John.

After making good contact with the people at Malmö City things started to roll. Them having a similar idea with an activity park so our idea of a huge skateboard park wasn’t too far off. They liked the idea and the project Stapelbäddsparken was born.

“ We couldn’t really find a better location for this park to be built in. It is right by the sea, in the newest developed area in Malmö with a very skatable architecture and it is only 5 minutes from the central station. We couldn’t really ask for more.“ says John.

To come up with a design that will suit all skaters is not an easy task. We all know how picky skaters can be and of course it was important to please everyone.

“ We wanted to make a timeless skatepark, to make the most of the possibilities that concrete gives you, to make something that you never grow tired of. We were looking for inspiration from the 80’s up to now, looking through magazines, making clay models and sketching on new ideas. “ says John.

Stefan ripping in the oververt at the half finished park in 2005.

Johns ambition was and is to create one of the best skateparks in the world, design wise, construction wise and quality wise and after a lot of clay models and sketches he felt he needed some professional help. After some research he found Stefan Hauser of Placed To Ride Inc. that has been involved in numerous concrete parks in Oregon, The Cradle in Austria and of course the famous Burnside. Stefan grew up in Portland, Oregon, and began skateboarding when he was thirteen. After John had contacted him he was instantly interested and came over to Malmö in April 2004 to plan and to finish the design of “Stapelbäddsparken” , Malmö Concrete park.

1. What kind of training did you have when you first started out at
  Burnside? Did you have any experience in working with concrete or
  designing skate obstacles?

Before Burnside, I had built some wooden ramps in front of my house every summer. The first ramp was a launch ramp which consisted of a piece of plywood set at an angle on a wooden bench. When the plywood became cracked and kinked in the middle this created my first pseudo tranny. The next incarnation was a better launch ramp, built more solid, but still with some kinks for transitions. Really I had no templates, guides, blueprints or models. After that, we added a little deck to it and decided to use a wooden broom stick cut in half for coping. It was all fun times.

Using wood salvaged from here and there and PVC (plastic) for coping, I next built an eight foot wide quarter pipe. With this ramp came a better idea how to frame a good transition, and masonite was added for a final smoother riding surface. Every winter came the rains and the ramps would collect  leaves and get soft from the moisture. Every summer came a new ramp, sometimes a quarter pipe, sometimes a spine and then sometimes a combination of ramps that could be moved around creating new obstacles. A lot of skaters my age have similar childhood recollections. Among them are people from the formative years of Burnside. Few had any concrete experience and there really was not any concrete skatepark construction technique to imitate. Like Red says ”A lot of trowel and error” led to today’s ultra smooth riding surfaces. You can see our progress in developing the technique in the parks’ various concrete finishes. 

Stefan Hauser and the PTR-crew working on the pool at Stapelbäddsparken 2005.

2. From working at Burnside to building parks around the world is a
  major step. How did this happen?

The Gods were on our side…I teamed up with Red (Mark Scott) and together we managed to pull off some quite astounding public projects. With each completed project came more recognition that we were fulfilling a real need in the skating community. We became sought after. Skaters and towns alike wanted to put their money into a superior, enduring park.

3. What is your advice to those that want to improve their skate

Seek and Destroy. Have a big plan, listen to others, respect those that deserve it, and always stick to your guns about your needs.  Keep your dreams alive.

4. Tell me a little about the project in Malmö. What is going to make
  this park unique? Is it different from other projects that you have
  worked with?

The Stapelbaddsparken project is a dream come true courtesy of Bryggeriet and John Magnusson who is completely dedicated to bringing the idea of an enormous and outstanding outdoor concrete stakepark to maturity. It is unique because of the largeness of its scope in eliciting the input of local skaters at all levels, gaining the total cooperation of Malmö city, incorporating an outstanding design into a larger park in an affluent city center.  The amount of community support and pride in its skaters is paying tremendous dividends. 

5. Top 3 concrete parks in the world and why?

My biased opinion:

Burnside: the roots of modern skatepark design are in that big little place under the bridge.

Lincoln City: the first public project put together by what has turned into companies such as Dreamland, Grindline and Placed To Ride. Another great design and another park I love to ride.

The next grand park I build: there is nothing better than riding what you have built. You just have to get past the work and when it is all finished, it can be truly amazing. I always like to surpass my prior efforts. 

There are so many new parks nowdays. Everyone should stay focused on one thing and that is their local park. It is like bread and butter, the staple of your life, the place you spend most of your free time.  Put your efforts there.

Marcus Olsson frontside hurricane at Savanna side 2003.

Marcus Olsson was one of the instigators of the now defunct Savanna Side together with Pontus Alv, Tobias Henriksson and some other heads. He knows what it is like to take matter into his own hands and make dreams come true. For those of you that don’t know about the Savanna it was a small concrete park built on some derelict ground funded, designed and built by a small group of skaters in Malmö. For two years they formed a little paradise of transitions with all you could dream of. Well what some skaters could dream of anyway. Just like Stefan and the guys at Burnside they didn’t know anything about building in concrete, it was purely trial and error. All good things come to an end though sadly enough and so did Savanna side. R.I.P.

“ The feeling of creating something that you can get so much enjoyment out of is amazing. I mean it wasn’t just a spot we created, we created so much more. We created a whole little scene, you know, putting on barbeques, parties and organizing little get togethers. “ says Marcus.

“ You just need to show people that it is possible you know, that all you have to do is to start and then things will improve on the way. “

Tobias, John, Stefan and Marcus all started skateboarding in the 80’s with a completely different skate scene. There was usually no parks, no ramps scattered around the cities and basically no skateboard scene. They were somehow forced to do something about their situations if they wanted anything else than what was offered to them. Today if you grow up in a bigger city the situation is probably quite different. There is skateparks, indoor, outdoor, concrete, wood, skate shops and competitions and other events. There is no need for the skaters of today to learn how to put together a mini-ramp or a little curb to skate outside your house. There is no need to put on a competition for you and your friends because there will be one next tuesday at the local park anyway. You don’t really need to save up money to go to San Francisco to try to see one of your favorite skateboarders because they are all coming to your town to do a demo. That driving force that Tobias, John, Marcus, Stefan and so many others have been brought up with, that is what lies behind all these successful projects and that is what made them what they are today. Thanks for that! Lets get busy!

Momo and Stefan.