My first intro into building parks came through knowing and skating with most of the dudes who worked for Rob at Concrete Skateparks. Noah Phillips, James Douglas, Seb Steele, Dave Toms, Brodie Sellars, Scotty Walsh, Saul Bell… The list is long.
When that crew was in town, a lot of them would crash at my place. Holy shit, they were wild times! I was a tiler by trade and had my own little thing going on which was rad, but honestly, the passion was not there at all. The opportunity came up to tile a couple of bowls for Rob and basically, since my first day I haven’t looked back. I always had it in my head to start my own thing one day, but wanted to put in the work first and make sure when I do it I do it right. And so I put EVERYTHING (money, time… sanity) into starting GRIND PROJECTS. And here we are, full steam ahead!
I never got into this to just build parks to make money and move onto the next. We want to be psyched on what we build and walk away knowing we had input from day one. A lot of parks go out to tender already designed which can sometimes be a problem, as what works on paper does not necessarily work on site. If we have any doubt that an element is not going to work or is just lame, we will certainly change it up and fork out the cost to do so. So many parks just get built by people who don’t give a fuck ‘cause they aren’t skaters, so all those little changes that should have been made don’t get made and you get a generic Oz skatepark that is shit but looks pretty because they used coloured concrete.
Apart from the build itself, the consultancy stage is so important! Those local shredders are the ones there every day, so listening to their ideas certainly gives us direction for the design. If you’re one of the many keyboard warriors who always whine about parks after they get built cause it doesn’t have the perfect transition you need to do your axle stalls, well, next time go to the meetings and speak up! I know its boring but going on your councils website and looking out for updates and info about upcoming parks/ extensions etc. Also get the ball rolling yourself, get out there and approach the council if your park is old/shit and falling apart – write emails, get all yer crew to do the same, and if there are meetings get off yer arse and go there and be heard, take your ideas, speak up! It’s your area, your town, your skatepark, so give a shit!
The majority of people have no idea of how a park is built and the amount of work and cost that goes into it, so people hear there is a 200k budget for a park and think that’s a lot of money, but in reality a 200k park is on the lower end of the budget and it probably won’t be possible to create what’s in their head. In saying that, a park doesn’t need to be big to be fuckin fun, it just needs the right elements with the right layout for those elements, and we put a lot of time into doing our best to make that happen. It becomes very clear, very quickly, you can’t keep everyone happy when designing or building a park. I used to take it super personally when someone would question what we built and I’d snap back at them, not so much anymore… unless they are a real wanker!
Challenges in the build stage certainly range from job to job: what part of the country you’re in, what time of year it is and what scumbags wanna fuck with our shit and try and rob us! It is definitely frustrating rocking up to work to find all your fences knocked over, shit spray painted and broken, but there’s nothin like when someone steals your shit… that’s another level of rage! We make a lot of our own custom tools so when they get flogged its worse than your new set of drills being stolen.
Thankfully my amazing partner Lucy has taken over the paperwork and tendering side of things so I can focus mostly on the team and building good parks, it was super hard doing it all myself and her way of doing things makes my paperwork look like a 4 year old kid with a crayon was tendering for work. On site the weeks of set up are a bit more chill, I’d say we run on an 8 on the “hard day at the office” scale. Then on weeks of spraying concrete, the days start out at 8 and end up at a solid 11 where I’m yelling at most things in my path. It’s a bloody hard job. Most days are very labour intensive, and it hurts at the end of the week (most weeks), but I wouldn’t change it for anything and it makes the beers taste extra special at the end of the day.
When it comes to the concrete itself there are no real secrets but there are a few tricks ya learn along the way. We do pay extra attention to detail and quality in our builds. So I guess the secret to our smooth concrete is my team, who is made up of a bunch absolute rippers: BENNY HERMANS has been a real asset to us, awesome all-rounder, he has great experience in building parks all over the world and has a great eye for detail and approaching problems with his own direction. He can bloody skate too. DAN MOYNIHAN is the newest bloke to the crew going on a year now and has picked it up real fast – great form worker and handy on the crete, works hard, bloody ripper of a bloke and is not scared to throw his body at the conc’ on his board. LOUIE MARSHALL is our UK recruit, got straight off the plane over a year ago and straight into a hand stacked backyard bowl and hasn’t looked back, reliable as fuck and stronger than an ox on roids and for such a big fella he is a dam technical wizard on his board. Last but not least LUCY HEDDEN (me misso) she went from a tattoo apprentice to shoveling crete and troweling like a champion with us, not scared to give anything a go and will usually do it very well, we had a baby so Luce had to get off the tools and now is the fuel that feeds the company, winning the jobs and making us look good.
“It becomes very clear, very quickly, you can’t keep everyone happy when designing or building a park.”
Good parks aren’t built by one person, it takes everyone to make the machine work properly, it takes a while to get the right team and it’s not a job for most people, but once it works it’s rad to see the results. So big cheers dudes and dudette, I appreciate all the work and effort you put in for us. Also thanks to all the legends who have helped along the way DARREN WHITE (BASEPLATE DESIGN), DR ANGER, CRAIG COLE, DARBO, TIM WATERS, BRODIE SELLARS, TOM ROBINSON, SAM BENNET, DALE “BILLY” to name a few.
As far as essential elements to park design – I think the most important thing is to not crowd the space, you need to make sure there is clear and effective FLOW through the park. If it’s a street park it’s good to have a few different variations of the same thing I think, such as a long flat bar at 350mm-450mm high, super fun for everyone and good to learn on, one a bit higher maybe shorter for the mad pop players and one with a whoopdee at the end for the techy variation wizards, ledges and hubbas at different heights. We also like to place moguls and pump humps throughout so there’s no need to push, save pushing for the street spots. In a tranny park I always need to see some good concrete edges or pool coping, it’s such a better feeling back truck on concrete, variation of some nice mellow radius’s on long straight sections and a nice tight radius in pockets for maximum speed and challenge. Love a fuckin barrier too… Ooooooof! love a barrier!
What gets my goat is seeing parks just get spat out with no care in design and workmanship, no clean edges, all ‘noping’ sections just with a big rolled edge that doesn’t grind because the builder couldn’t be fucked spending time on it (or just cant do it), seeing the same designs pop up over and over with slight tweaks between jobs…. and spine ramps! FUCK I hate spine ramps, not fun to build, shit to skate and just no need for them!!!
When it comes to some of my favourite parks – the world is full of so many rad looking parks that I’ve never been to. I’ve always loved Scandinavian parks, our boys Tomsy and Chooky at CONCREATURES built some fuckin bangers. STAPEL is epic and I loved a little one they did in a place call LOMMA just lumps n bumps n pockets everywhere – super rad, I actually took a bit of inspo off that park for the CARRUM DOWNS park shown in this article. Also RUNE GLIFBERG has just recently been a part of a very neat looking project in AMSTERDAM built by SKATEON SKATEPARKS with super cool blue and white tile bands under all the blocks and with matching mosaic tiled hubbas. It just looks architecturally bang on.
Here in Oz – Tugun skatepark. It was good to be a part of that build during my time at CONCRETE SKATEPARKS. Vic park in WA I think is a super fun bowl, but I hear its getting knocked down for a massive park in its place. Box Hill in Melbourne has everything you could want in a park – rad pool coping bowl, snake run, long rails, long slappy kerb, little whippy neat noping section and a very heavy rainbow barrier wallride thingy in the middle of the snake run, designed by DARREN @BASEPLATE DESIGN and built by the legends Trev, Bretty and Darcy at INDEPENDENT SKATEPARKS, I loved working on that park and with those dudes they are certainly one of the “GOOD CUNCE” out there producing great work.
A lot of the stuff that gets produced by GRINDLINE and DREAMLAND over in the states is pretty epic too, there seems to certainly be a lot more design freedom over there. I think we’re pretty spoilt over here in Oz as we have parks fucking everywhere and councils constantly putting coin into them, I just think maybe we need to take some more design risks and get a little loose, step out of the box every now and again, build a massive spot that looks like the surface of the moon…. Why the fuck not?
There’s a couple of favourites we’ve worked on, but for different reasons. First one is SUNBURY skatepark we did over a year ago, it was a super tricky design with some pretty weird but rad elements and sections involved (baseplate design), it was the first job that really challenged us as a team and builders, fuck we did some big challenging pours on that one and I was so fuckin stocked on how it came out, after that job I knew we could build anything and build it well. Second job I’m proud of is a little one I did on KING ISLAND (island in the middle of the Bass strait between mainland Oz and TAS), super small community with not much money at all, I got BRODIE SELLARS on board, after I went over solo and did a week of demo in the rain. Had to fly over in a tin can plane with limited tools (as the Bean Can could only hold so much weight. So there we were middle of the ocean, middle of winter on an island, very few tools but a coupla great fuckin attitudes and an island full of dead set legends. We somehow made it happen and it turned out rad! I guess what I took from that job is that if you really want to make something happen and you’re truly passionate about what you do; you can, if ya work hard for it and forget about shit like money and Instagram likes for a bit.
“Building a skatepark in the middle of nowhere then seeing a clip of local shredders killing it is an amazing feeling.”
Its hard to pin point the one most satisfying aspect of the job, but one that stands out is being able to give back to skateboarding in another form than just skating. Building a skatepark in the middle of nowhere then seeing a clip of local shredders killing it is an amazing feeling. Going back with a crew of mates and seeing all your homies having a blast feels great. Standing back looking at your work after a massive day and feeling proud of what you did feels great. Knowing I got to where I am through hard work and pure passion for skating feels great. And I guess thinking of 15yr old skate rat “Shoota” looking at himself now, he would be pretty hyped!
First people I want to thank are my family, my Dad (Jock), the hardest working man I’ve ever met, always taught us to work hard and appreciate what you have, my Mum (Jackie) taught us how important family is, my bro’s Paul, Gary, Tom and Scott kept growing up interesting to say the least and watching my older brothers turn into the hard working successful men with amazing families only gave me something to strive for and watching my little brother shredding on a board is something that makes me proud every day.
I’d like to thank all the people in my past that gave me a shot at helping on parks: Rob Lewers, Michael Haley, Trevor Brown you guys all taught me very important lessons whether it was what to do or what not to do either way it was a lesson and I thank you. Thanks to The Skateboarder’s Journal for running this article I really hope it gets people in Australia a bit more psyched on the process of park building as I don’t think we get behind it enough, have a look at THRASHER in America they back the park crews hard, always keeping readers involved in what’s happening, I hope we can do that too.
To DICKIES AUSTRALIA/ATOMIC MARKETING and VANS Australia for keeping shoes on our feet and epic work clothes to cover in crete we thank you. Thanks to Potty and Drew at SKATEBOARD.COM.AU for always backing us and posting our work around. Thanks to my Gorgeous partner LUCY for backing me this whole way when it was just a distant dream and pushing me and helping me to always better myself.
Lastly to my hard working crew BENNY, DAN, LOUIE and LUCY, your passion in work and love for skating does not go unnoticed , you guys make GRIND PROJECTS what it is and I cant FUCKIN wait for what the future holds for us all.