NTU student and staff research helps develop a unique ‘skateboard-friendly’ public space in central Nottingham
A unique free-to-use ‘skateboard-friendly space’ has opened for public use in central Nottingham following significant input from students and researchers at Nottingham Trent University (NTU).
Tram Line Spot, near the Broadmarsh development site and the new Nottingham College campus, is a purpose-built, community-designed ‘skate spot’ that can be used in all weather. It is one of the first spaces of its kind in Europe.
The space pushes the boundaries for what’s possible in multi-use, active public realm across Europe. Rather than a ‘skatepark’, it has been designed to blend into and complement the wider public area around Sussex Street and to be welcoming to other user groups, including quad and inline-skaters, street artists and young people studying at the College or visiting the Nottingham Contemporary.
After non-profit community development organisation Skate Nottingham were contacted by Nottingham City Council in autumn 2019 to start initial planning for the space, NTU has been involved at several different stages, with staff and students gaining rich benefits for research, learning and teaching.
NTU staff and students attended participatory-design workshops during the 2019 and 2020 Nottingham Festivals of Science and Curiosity and several students contributed to the Inspired by Skatespots project with Ignite Futures and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI).
These events resulted in initial designs that were refined with 40 participants at a workshop this July delivered by Skate Nottingham with Dr Ana Souto Galvan, NTU Principal Lecturer in Architecture, and BArch Architecture graduate Luke Groom, alongside Lincolnshire Heritage and specialist graffiti store Montana, facilitated by Stuart Maclure from skatepark specialists Betongpark and record-breaking community campaign Long Live Southbank.
With fellow students Brandon Fuller (BA Hons Economics) and Nika Maric (BA Hons Sports Science and Management), Luke worked on a Scholarship Programme for Undergraduate Researchers (SPUR) project which focused on Tram Line Spot throughout the summer of 2021, supervised by Chris Lawton, Skate Nottingham co-founder and Community Development Officer at Skateboard GB, alongside Dr Tom Hughes, senior lecturer at NTU’s School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, and Dr Stuart Jolly, principal lecturer at NTU’s School of Science and Technology.
This project, which looked at case studies of other mixed-use spaces across Europe, including in Copenhagen, Paris, Glasgow and London, produced important recommendations on how Tram Line Spot can be inclusive for a wide range of users and be safe and welcoming, with skateboarders providing ‘passive security’ as positive users and active custodians of the space, deterring anti-social behaviour. Students shared their insights at a public panel discussion at Metronome alongside academics and practitioners from all over the UK.
Through the autumn 2022 term, undergraduate and postgraduate students from Nottingham Business School have worked with Skate Nottingham as their client for three different experiential consultancy projects. A team of five MSc Marketing students investigated the potential of the space for marketing Nottingham as the best destination in the UK for young people to visit or study, identifying social media, guerrilla marketing and partnership strategies. More than 40 BA Economics and BA Business Management joint-honours students also analysed the potential economic and social impacts of Tram Line Spot and its impacts on wider place-making for the city, including as a complement to Nottingham City Council's aspirations to be a UNICEF Child Friendly City.
Research led by NTU’s Professor Carrie Paechter into the experiences of girl skateboarders has been progressing at the same time and has contributed to the inclusivity of design and diversity of use, a major objective for Tram Line Spot.
Involving the University of Leeds and Skateboard GB and funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the research has enabled Skate Nottingham to take account of the emerging findings, particularly the need for flat space to learn and practice that was expressed by many of the girls and young women interviewed, alongside the importance of organised sessions led by women coaches. This insight will help shape the initial events and activities programme at the space, which is being funded by an Awards for All grant from The National Lottery Community Foundation.
As well as being designed through a process of participatory research, the space was also funded in an innovative way. Skate Nottingham’s Crowdfunder UK campaign has so far raised £16,810 with 235 individual supporters. This included £1,000 kindly donated by Rock City and DHP Family and £7,500 from the Sport England ‘Active Together’ fund. In addition to the funds raised through the Crowdfunder UK campaign, Skate Nottingham also received £5,000 from Skateboard GB, the National Governing Body for skateboarding. The bespoke steel installations were then fabricated by Betongpark, who were also responsible for the temporary skateable installation at The Strand, Westminster, in September 2021 and the recent, sensitive redevelopment of the historic Stockwell Skatepark, Brixton.
Skate Nottingham aim to be able to sustainably fund and deliver a wide-ranging programme of skateboarding events and educational outreach at Tram Line Spot site throughout 2023, including construction skills workshops and creative and cultural activities for a wide range of age groups, and are keen to continue to work closely with NTU.
Visit the dedicated Instagram page for Tram Line Spot for photos and films. Use the hashtag #tramlinespot or tag www.instagram.com/tramlinespot. The events and activities programme will be on Skate Nottingham’s social media, @skatenottingham on Instagram and Facebook and @NottinghamSkate on Twitter, and on the website www.skatenottingham.co.uk
Notes for editors
About Nottingham Trent University
Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.
The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.
NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked second best university in the UK in the Uni Compare Top 100 rankings (2021/2022). It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).
NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with nearly 39,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.
Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.
NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.
NTU is ranked 2nd most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).
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