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The story behind the iconic bowl of Marseille

Prado Beach skatepark, in Marseille, aka Bowl of Marseille, is one of the best in France and also one of the most iconic parks in Europe. Every line was meticulously designed to provide a high, but controlled speed, where physics and aesthetics combine like no other, with the Mediterranean Sea as eyewitness.

Tic Tac, tic tac. Everybody knows Newton’s cradle (or pendulum), a gadget of five balls suspended in which we lift one ball at one edge, we release it and the fifth ball rises. It’s the magic of physics. This is one simple way to understand the difference between kinetic energy and potential energy and that's what inspired Jean-Pierre Collinet when he designed the Bowl of Marseille, the most famous skatepark in France and one of the best in Europe.

“The bowl is the permanent propulsion of a skateboarder. It might seem something natural, but it’s not. A skater doesn’t have a pedal or other mechanical support. The bowl is the way to transform the potential energy into kinetic energy and vice-versa. I always wanted to preserve energy in this skatepark”, Collinet said in several public presentations and interviews.

People say the world is shaped by math and they’re probably right. In the Bowl of Marseille, there is no doubt about it and that’s why it's so unique. Its conception put physics and aesthetics on the same level. In other words: this skatepark was made for speed, high-calculated speed and no waste of power.

“The bowl is the way to transform the potential energy into kinetic energy and vice-versa. I always wanted to preserve energy in this skatepark” Jean-Pierre Collinet

“There was a boy who had a big pool at his backyard that was 3,30 meters deep. That was when I learned what was possible and not possible to do in a bowl. At the same time, I had a teacher who taught me the concepts of physics”, Jean-Pierre Collinet explained.

His studies about how to make interceptions between geometric figures were one of the keys to the success of this project. The best secret of this park: clean and diversified lines and technical transfers. You ride until your breath is over.

The Bowl of Marseille was inaugurated in 1991 and was built by Constructo skateparks, It was one fo the first bowls in France and costed around 220.000 euros (a million francs, the former French currency), something like 440.000 euros (482.000 dollars) with the inflation rate. Its importance for concrete skateparks is consensual and the global skate community (not just the French community) recognize it, because it didn’t take much time to become one of the most searched parks worldwide.

Tony Hawk gave a hand by displaying it on Pro Skater 2 video game, leveraging Marseille to the top level of skateboarding in Europe.

Tony Hawk gave a hand by displaying it on his Pro Skater 2 video game, leveraging Marseille to the top level of skateboarding in Europe. That’s why The Mucem (The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations) in Marseille showcases a 1983 Tony Hawks’ skateboard. A revolution happened. Nothing new to this passionate Mediterranean city, after all they are used to hold bigger revolutions, like the History books tell us. All this buzz made the Bowl of Marseille the perfect candidate to host major events, like the Quiksilver Bowlrider, which takes place on the third weekend of May.

The resemblances with California are purposeful. Collinet was inspired by the skatepark of Huntington Beach (currently known as Vans Off the Wall Skatepark) and after creating the Bowl of Marseille he found other parks very similar, like the one in Lugano, Switzerland.

But you can’t copy the aura. Each park has its own and the Bowl of Marseille is made of love for skateboarding.

In 2017 the park was totally renovated (with a cost of 590.000 euros/646.500 dollars, financed by the City Hall)

"Prado Beach had some skateble pipelines thanks to the construction of the sewers and I started to ride them. I was used to it because I did that in the USA. People started to go there to see me ripping it”, the skater and architect added.

As representative of the King of Spain group (the name of their neighbourhood with the same name in Marseille) Collinet went to the City Hall, advocating for the construction of a skatepark at Prado Beach. The politicians said yes, and the rest is an ongoing story.

In 2017 the park was totally renovated (with a cost of 590.000 euros/646.500 dollars, financed by the City Hall), featuring a smooth concrete and all distinctive characteristics that make the Bowl of Marseille unique. For those who still don’t know it, take a note: a spine with 1,70 meters, two separated halfpipes, five bowls with a depth from 1,80 meters to 2,70 meters (this one called ‘the mega’) and a street section.

The weather is a perfect ally. Due to the Mediterranean climate, you can skate there almost every day and during night hours, too, because of the artificial lighting. BMXers are allowed to ride but only specific hours, depending on school periods.

If Paris is the capital of France, Marseille is the country’s capital of skateboarding. The oldest French city was shaped by many cultures and that diversity is the heart of skateboarding. If you ride there, you will understand it. So, say ‘bonjour’ and go skate.

Visit Prado beach skatepark

By Manu Silva

How Troubl3 Keeps Making Trouble with Skateboards

June 29 2022 - Interview with Troubl3  “I always have been a troublemaker”. If Andrew, 41, had to pitch his idea, this could be a good punchline. It’s one of those cases where a business’s name is not just marketing, but a character’s extension. "So, Troubl3 is giving the middle finger to a lot of skate shops that do not support local people." Andrew (Owner Troubl3)   VISIT WEBSITE TROUBL3 is a Canadian skateboard shop based in Otawa. It was born in 2018 from the desire to go against the flow. “Skateboarding industry has become a mass production machine. Everything comes from China or Mexico, where people are not paid right. I buy something for one hundred dollars that really costs ten dollars”, he claims. “Then I thought: if I’m going to be a troublemaker, I might do something different. If I’m making a board it’s got to be unique like any skater is. I’m going to make one by one; it’s going to be tougher, it’s going to last more, every single board is going to be different. When you buy, it’s not just a board, it’s a piece of art and an experience”, he adds. This is something “one hundred percent customized”, from size, shape, wheels base, and a “seven veneer deck”. He proudly details: “Each veneer that goes into each deck is hand picked.” He buys local (wood from Quebec, for instance) in small batches, presses, shapes and hand paints the decks himself also, when he can, he promotes local artists to draw on the skateboards. “So, Troubl3 is giving the middle finger to a lot of skate shops that do not support local people who make stuff. They say they are local, but do not buy local”, Andrew reenforces, protesting against the rules of the game. “I always compare skateboards with pizza. I love pizza: a large one costs 50 bucks, the same you pay for a skateboard sometimes. Those skateboards are made overseas, they cost nothing to make, the price of pizza is gone to double, but the price of skateboards stayed the same for 30 years." “I evoke Paul Schmitt’s case all the time: a big name in this industry who shifted his business from California to Tijuana because people want to keep the price of a skateboard at 50 of 60 dollars for eternity. So, to keep his business going and pay his people, he had to move”, Andrew says.   He likes to be different. “Being marginalized is something good in skateboarding”. Although he admits the way he runs business is not sustainable: “The breakeven would be making 250 skateboards a month. Right now, I have had a month when I made four or five, others one or two.” It doesn’t matter. He believes this is the way. And he gives a discount if people really ride them and not just hang his skateboards on the wall. Authenticity is his brand, like the style he prefers for riders: “I like to see the most unorthodox skater. Do you do treflips? Fantastic, so can any other kid. I don’t care, throw your board against the wall, flip it on your head, do a back flip, do something I want to see. It’s different, do skateboarding and not do what others do.” “There’s a kid in Indonesia I started to follow who's skateboarding reminds me of a young Christian Hosoi. When I see the kid skate I can recognize Christian Hosoi’s influence. Can you recognize the inventors of other tricks you see people do at the park?”, he asks. Andrew sponsors five “troublemakers”: Eric Martin (Ontario), Dustin Lawrence (Ontario), Connor Callan aka Meat Feet (Arizona), Luis Uribe (Texas), Shinichi Nichiyama (Japan). He enjoys watching them and supports them the way he can. About his local skateparks, Andrew recommends: Bob MacQuarrie skatepark in Otawa Joel Gauthier skatepark in Rockland Local bus stop where where it's super smooth and is perfect for slappies, now that people stopped using busses, due to Covid, it's always empty and available.

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