Then to illustrate my point. There's dudes like Wapo who if you stuck at House of Vans would rip that bowl a new one, if you stuck him at SB he'd tank it round and hit everything at 1000mph. Or Brenna, stick him at SB - Flip back tails for days, House of Vans - never ending 5-0 fakies and perfect frontside/backside airs.
Basically, ATV skaters seem to be getting more common and it's rad.
A welcome - but quirky - addition to London's skate scene makes the most of some tight railway arches.
House of Vans is London's new skatepark, courtesy of Californian canvas plimsoll giant Vans.
It's got something for everyone.
A street area. A miniramp. A bowl. Plus a music venue, cinema, cafe and bar.
Not a lot to dislike about any of that, and much to be grateful for.
It's been built inside a set of five long railway arches, under London's Waterloo Station. And for such a restricted space, it packs a hell of a lot of features in.
Take the bowl, for example. It has a deep end. A shallow end. Corners and hips. Extensions. Two sort of porthole things, one on each side, facing each other. And all of these features work get used to good effect - so long as you have the skill.
Then there's the miniramp. High bits and low bits. Gaps and extensions. And it runs down the length of one of the tunnels, and leads into the street area.
So, pretty good.
But there's a catch.
In packing all of these features into such a limited space, the end result is rather more cramped than it would have been if they'd been more modest in their ambitions.
Take the miniramp. If you want it long, and multilevel, you have to run it lengthways down the tunnel. Which means that you're constrained by the width from wall to wall. Once you've factored in platforms on either side and a bit of flat bottom, you're not left with very much to play with. The result is a narrow ramp with very tight and whippy transitions.
The alternative would have been to run the ramp across the ramp rather than down it. This would have allowed pretty much any transition size you wanted. A few years back, an indoor skatepark a little way down the river in Vauxhall managed to fit a full-sized vert ramp under railway arches by turning it sideways. Maybe the arches were higher. But turning your ramp sidways in a confined space does give you more control, transition-wise. However, it also your ramp shorter. Much shorter.
Against that, it frees up more space for other ramps built behind it. Back to back, maybe. Different heights if you wanted, or connected by spines. It's a tricky one, though, what to do about the mini. The constraints of the building structure force difficult choices, and none of them are ideal.
Then there's the bowl. The bowl has different issues. There, the transitions are bigger. Less tight. More comfortable to ride. Which is good. But in a narrow railway tunnel, something has to be sacrificed for those bigger transitions. Something has to give. That something is the platforms. For much of the length of the bowl, on both sides, the platforms - if you can call them that - are little more than foothold ledges. Which rules out lip-tricks in a lot of the places you might want to do them. Rocks. Boardslides. No chance. Do a Smith grind and you could graze your nose on the tunnel wall. Do an axle-stall and you could graze your backside. But you can't have everything in a space like that. You can't have both rideable transitions and spacious platforms. And on the whole, I think they made the right call there.
But there's the design of the bowl itself, which I'm less sure about. Feature-packed, you might describe it as. Compare and contrast with the bowl at BaySixty6. Now, that's not feature-packed. Not in the slightest. The bowl at BaySixty6 is smooth, fast, regular, and, some might say, a little bland. Well, the House of Vans bowl is the complete opposite of that. There are ups and downs, touches and features. Which kind of bowl you prefer, out of those options, is a matter of taste. If you want neutral and even to let you do whatever tricks you like, where you like, then go to Bay. If you like the features of the bowl to be part of the challenge, then go to House of Vans.
Except for one thing. Or two things, to be precise. The two large 'portholes' facing each other on either wall, right in the middle of the bowl. They frame two cross-arches in the building's structure. I'll try to find something good to say about them first. Which isn't easy. They let spectators look in, I suppose. Like those window things on the dolphin tanks in aquariums. And they give skaters something to ride over the top of. Or under. Though, frankly, under would be a bit boring. But the truth of the matter is that I find it hard to see them as anything other than a colossal pain in the arse. Two bloody great holes, exactly where you least want them. They wreck so many potential lines down the ramp that I can't see why anyone would choose to put them there on purpose. The only conceivable reason I can imagine for them is some sort of fire-regulation thing that says the cross-arches have to be kept open, and the bowl designers scratched their heads and came up with portholes, to make the most of a bad situation. In which case, well done bowl designers! But if they could be covered in plexiglass, or got rid of altogether, then the experience of riding the bowl would be increased by about a million percent.
Now to the street area. Or not, as the case may be. There's a street area there. It's not a very big one, but the skaters I saw riding it seemed to be having a good time. I don't really do street, so I'm not best qualified to judge its merits or otherwise. If you like it, that's great. If not, South Bank is just round the corner, so you're covered either way.
There are all sorts of other facilities, too, from a big and well-stocked cafe to a cavernous concert hall, to a cinema. A lot more than you expect at your average skatepark. And also a little less than you expect. Because there's no skate shop. And, strangely for a Vans facility, no Vans shop. Which means that pretty much the only place you can't buy a pair of Vans these days is in the House of Vans.
But in summary.
All in all a good park, and free, as I say. And good in all weathers.
And it makes the most, in most cases, of the constraints of the railway arches it's built in.
Not perfect. But not at all bad, all things considered.
Big disappointment 4/10. No platforms and whippy transitions are the overall issues. Mini had a large gap for the cafe so its like skating two separate ramps
Last edited by Jonny Sheen; 10th August 2014 at 07:31 PM.
I heard from someone that it was closed today due to the weather?Being someone who has had a history of opening shops in reclaimed railway arches,I know that damp can be an issue.Is this the case?
Loads of things have been closed or called off due to hurricane Bertha over the weekend, concerts, sport, ect.
That will be it then,hurricane warning at Waterloo.
French X Tweaker special edition online zine thing: http://issuu.com/tweakerzine/docs/tweakerhov-v04
Test session with Rob Smith and Darryl Dominguez: http://www.gorminator.com/2014/08/hovtestsession/
Opening day featuring Churchill and a bunch of other: http://www.gorminator.com/2014/08/ho...-vans-opening/
Just to add a pretty pointless standard opinion, I went at the weekend and thought it was amazing. I do agree that it's pretty niche and may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there's a million skateparks that I've been to that were a lot worse. The big bowled room is really fun, I think this place is such a rad addition to London, especially in terms of rain spots, will definitely be top of my list next time I'm down south and its drizzling. Londoners can't complain really, there must be every possible skateable type of creation ever made now available within an hours travel time!
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