Jenner completes work on World’s First Multi-Storey Skate Park

Main contractor Jenner has completed work on the world’s first purpose-built multi-storey skatepark, delivering a project that combines engineering challenges with outstanding architecture as part of the ongoing regeneration of a seaside town in Kent.

Located in Folkestone, the project is part of a wave of regeneration plans for the town. The landmark building, designed by Hollaway Studio, features three skateparks, climbing wall (the tallest in the South East of England) and a boxing ring.

F51, named after its location in the heart of Folkestone, has been commissioned by the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust. The project is a means to support the local community being a gift to Folkestone and the young.

Located on the edge of one of the most deprived wards in Kent, it will offer young locals freedom and the opportunity to push both physical and mental boundaries within a safe space away from screens. In doing so, F51 aims to put young people first, conveying to the youth of Folkestone that they are important and have opportunities that may not have been immediately apparent before. 

Membership for young locals who attend schools in the area, will be offered at a heavily discounted rate making F51 accessible for all of the local community. F51 also aims to attract the large number of locals who moved away and are now returning to bring up their own families and continue the regeneration of Folkestone.

F51 is a unique building in many ways. Working closely with renowned skatepark designers Maverick, the team has created three tiers of skate parks suited to all ages and different levels of experience, allowing beginners an opportunity to start at the top and work down to the advanced level. This is alongside a boxing gym, climbing walls, and a welcoming café/workspace for the community to use.

The huge concrete bowls of the ‘bowl floor’ skate level dominates the experience of F51. Suspended above the ground floor, they appear to hang mid-air, defying gravity and dictating the form of the building, creating an extraordinary sensation to stand beneath them from where you can view the bowls and hear the skateboards above. 

The bowl floor – located at first floor level – provided a major challenge for Jenner. Constructed from spray concrete it required careful engineering to create an elevated bowl. The shape of the underside of the bowl are visible from the exterior of the building and create a centre point to the ceiling of the entrance level café space. 

The facade of the building also presented numerous challenges. Due to the shape of the building – it curves to create a never-ending illusion – bespoke anodised aluminium cladding panels were fabricated. These were fitted to the concrete frame of the building. As part of the project Jenner worked with Vinci’s technology centre to test the cladding panels to ensure wind and water resistance (the building is unheated and classed as an outdoor space). They also had to be tested for impact resistance as the centre has been designed so that skaters can exit the bowls and use the walls as part of the experience.  

The other two levels – the street park and flow park – use timber. Constructed by specialist contractor Cambian Engineering, they combine the need for durability with the flexibility to modify and upgrade as skateboarding trends evolve. Constructed using plywood, the courses which include stairs, railings and benches, offer possibilities to update or enhance the space as skating and the venue itself evolves.

The four-storey building offers more than skateboarding, with additional spaces created for a climbing wall, a bouldering course and facilities for boxing. The climbing wall offers climbable surfaces of nearly 600 square metres, including ‘top rope’, ‘lead climbing’ and ‘bouldering’. The boxing gym features a competition-size boxing ring.

In addition to the activity-led spaces, F51 has commissioned a number of artists, both local and international, to create site specific works which are displayed within the space, as large murals and site specific pieces across the different floors and within the café space. 

F51 will be managed by The Sports Trust, the Folkestone independent not-for-profit sports charity, previously known as Shepway Sports Trust, established to encourage participation and excellence in sport. The Sports Trust will use the new facility as a base from which to support local clubs, strengthening their connections with primary and secondary schools and encouraging people of all ages to adopt a more active lifestyle.