Can Skaters Help Us Contain Flash Floods?

He was a boy, there was a drainage pit. Can we make it any more obvious? A new skatepark in Denmark doubles as stormwater runoff–because no one is skating when it’s pouring rain.

As extreme flooding becomes more common, and as our world sprouts more concrete and built surfaces, rainwater is finding less and less places to go. Much of stormwater runoff in cities ends up polluting other waterways—whether it be from overloading sewer systems or collecting dog poop from sidewalks along the way. All of this sounds incredibly unsexy (because it is), but the Danes have found a unique way to make stormwater drainage, well, fun.


Rabalder parken is both a skate park and a stormwater drainage system that can hold up to 23,000 cubic meters, or 10 swimming pools of rainwater. It’s located in Roskilde City, on the former site of a concrete factory that is now seeing major urban redevelopment.

Rabalder parken in use.

“Skaters do not skate when it rains, and water canals [are] by definition not utilized when it is dry,” Søren Nordal Enevoldsen, a lifelong skater and one of the Nordach architects on the project told Co.Exist. “By combining these two usages into one you get a much cheaper project than you would if you made a conventional drainage system and a conventional skate park.”

Inspired by his own passion for skateboarding and photos of industrial ditches in L.A., Enevoldsen says that skateboarders “naturally seek urban wastelands and leftover spaces to find new uncharted terrain to skate.” So, his team designed a wasteland with skaters in mind.

A bird’s-eye view of construction before the park was complete.

Because Denmark has witnessed a recent increase in devastating flash floods, the government is carving out some $5 to $7 billion dollars to prevent flooding in urban zones. The Roskilde City sewage department funded the bulk of the Rabalder parken project, and the company that used to be located at the former industrial site donated concrete. Now, Rabalder parken is in the running as a finalist for this year’s INDEX design award.

An architectural rendering of the bowl, also known as Basin 3.

“It is simply a necessity to rethink the infrastructure of drainage here,” Enevoldsen said. Maybe the U.S. should spend some time rethinking urban drainage, too … while grinding some sick mega ramps.


About the author

Sydney Brownstone is a Seattle-based former staff writer at Co.Exist. She lives in a Brooklyn apartment with windows that don’t quite open, and covers environment, health, and data