Wolverhampton Shelter

The design of the shelter was based around a number of workshops held on site with the young people who use the skate park. During the workshops we worked with them, investigating the individual qualities, associations and features of the site and the identities, activities and ideas of the young people.

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We explored the movement of the skaters, bmx riders and roller-bladers when skating and performing tricks. Large canvases were spread across the skate ramps and sculptures were formed from willow, clay and wire to capture and interpret the movement of the activities taking place.

The resulting design blurs the distinction between art and architecture, taking its inspiration from the sketches, models and sculptures produced during the workshops and seeks to capture the form of the skaters movement. The finished shelter consists of two primary elements. First the base is a robust undulating form that was carved by hand, and provides a sculptural surface for sitting, relaxing and even skating on. Second the form of the dynamic steel cantilevered canopy which is derived from the movement of the skaters and was developed using motion capture principles and 3D modelling software to create the rhythmic undulating form. This provides enclosure and protection to those using the shelter.


The collaborative nature of the project continued during construction, members of the practice worked with the artist and the young people to carve clay blocks that were donated by a local brick manufacturer. These were stacked and shaped by hand to create an organic form that provides opportunities for people to sit, recline, relax and even skate on.

The undulating canopy was translated from a 3D form to 2D drawings to enable a local steel fabricator to form each of the 26 structural steel fins, which were then transported to site and fixed to the cantilevered concrete footing. The setting out and spacing of the fins was carefully considered to control the view through the shelter which constantly alters from transparent to opaque as you move and walk around the structure.

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