The Park Maker

Skateboard Icon Rune Glifberg's Newfound Talent


Skate parks weren't "skate parks" when he was growing up. Just about any open piece of asphalt with a couple small ramps and a rail qualified. They were created and maintained by the kids in the neighborhood and largely seen as an eyesore by the surrounding community. But they were enough. It was a place to skate and experiment and progress. It was at one of those small, simple parks in Copenhagen where Rune Glifberg first began his journey to becoming an icon.

These days, after all the contest wins and magazine covers and fame, Glifberg wants to give back. He wants to make sure that the parks that are created – which can be multi-million dollar investments – are done right. He offered his insights and feedback when his home park in Copenhagen was refurbished a few years back and it was in that volunteer effort that he recognized an interest he didn't even know existed.

That first project led to another and Glifberg recognized an opportunity. Alongside his creative partner, Ebbe Lykke, the pair started their own design firm, Glifberg+Lykke, and are now competing for bids and being commissioned to design parks or "creative spaces," as Glifberg calls them, including the recently opened Street Dome in Haderslev, Denmark.

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At the Glifberg+Lykke offices. — Photo by: Arto Saari
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Glifberg and his creative partner, Ebbe Lykke. — Photo by: Arto Saari

These aren't your down-the-street-at-the-local-park kind of skate parks. These are skate parks that double as art installations or community plazas or city landmarks.

"We wanted to create unique spaces," Glifberg explained. "Somewhere where you can go film and take photos and the place still looks cool and has architectural features that you would probably find in a normal urban environment. We're trying to create something that is a little bit more interesting and feels more natural."

As the skateboarder-as-nuisance persona shifts to something more acceptable in the social paradigm, Glifberg and Lykke wanted to take into account that whatever they created as a skateable space would also be something that could be appreciated by more than just skateboarders.

"To the untrained eye it's a cool looking plaza or little park, when actually it's created for skateboarding," Glifberg said. "That's sort of our approach, making something that's also a cool space for [non-skateboarders] to be in so you're kind of bringing skateboarding into the regular environment and you're getting people to interact and bringing life to the city."

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Sean Malto, tail slide at the newly-opened Street Dome. — Photo by: Arto Saari

At the opening ceremony for Street Dome, huge crowds from the town and skateboarders from the surrounding area came out to see what Glifberg had helped to create. Curren Caples, Sean Malto, Arto Saari, Alex Sorgente and Sam Beckett accompanied Glifberg in putting on a demo for the crowd, showing how much was truly possible at the new skate space.

"It's unlike anywhere I've ever skated before," Caples said afterward. "It's so rad to look at that you almost feel a little guilty to be skating, but at the same time, it's also a really fun park to ride."

Glifberg, Caples, Malto, Beckett and Sorgente break in the Street Dome. (Video by Kirk Dianda)

Street Dome is the "fifth or sixth" park that Glifberg+Lykke has worked on. A couple more projects are in the works. The more of these parks that Glifberg can help to create, the more he can help to manifest the image he has of what skateboarding and skate parks can look and feel like.

"I've always been intrigued and fascinated by Danish design: furniture design, cool architecture, Arne Jacobsen, Davina Chairs, all that stuff. And it definitely plays a part in influencing the look and feel of the parks we create," Glifberg said. "At the end of the day, I just want something to be great for skateboarding. Ebbe is looking at more of the design aspect of things. We have a really good working relationship, good synergy, and I think that's how we've been able to come up with these pretty cool looking spaces."