Our research for City Mill Skate is conducted through a process of participatory design, in which a selected group of co-researchers initially consider the structures they would like to skate, create models of potential skateable ‘dots’ and share their designs with us.

We then use these designs to inform a series of DIY-build projects in the areas adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, allowing some of the ideas from the initial phase to be realised as full-scale skateable objects.

Our co-researchers and many others are then invited back to skate and evaluate the DIY builds from a practical perspective. Crucially, this is a testing process that keeps the end user and community stakeholder in mind.

The research data gathered through the City Mill Skate project is via participatory design, qualitative interviews and live evaluation by our research participants – to better our understanding of the publics who will skate the future City Mill Skate sites. When combined, these approaches provide a rounded appraisal, allowing us to refine the final design proposals that we take back to UCL.

Contemporary skateparks are often designed and built with limited consultation with intended user groups. At best, they often have in mind the needs of a few established skaters. At City Mill Skate, we want to employ a different approach – one in which the end users have been consulted in a live, participatory and practice-based process.

We intend to consult with those who are new to skateboarding, those whose voice is rarely heard in skatepark design, and those who already have considerable experience as skateboarders.

Our research is devised around the principle of cultural engagement: being responsive to the local skate scene and not adopting an off the shelf approach to design.

Dr Esther Sayers

Dr Esther Sayers is Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths College, London, Head of MA Art and Learning and part of the Centre for Arts and Learning. Her research into creative learning in the cultural context of the skatepark explores the immersive and reciprocal learning that motivates people to push limits and build resilience. Finding the balance between exhilaration, concentration, and reward helps skaters navigate risk, failure and the sub conscious.

Esther skates regularly in East London. The experience of learning to skate alongside her children has been a significant influence on her use of embodied research methodologies.

Professional Projects

Esther’s professional experience began as an artist leading workshops in schools, youth clubs and galleries. She worked at Tate Modern (1999-2011) as an Artist Educator and as Curator for School and Youth Programmes. Since 2011, alongside University reaching Esther has worked as arts in education consultant. She is currently a professional mentor within the Practice Research (Learning) programme at Tate.

Current projects include ArtScapers, located around the North West Cambridge Development and funded by University of Cambridge. Commissioned in 2013 by Contemporary Art Society and Insite Arts Esther created an education strategy which has developed into a nine-year project, with Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination, a social enterprise collaborating with artists in creativity research, practice and community development. The focus is on exploring change and ways that creative practices can help children to engage with the urban renewal happening in their area. Schools adjacent to the development, are working alongside as co-researchers to creatively speculate about what makes a community. This ties in with themes of democracy and cultural inclusion from Esther’s previous research and specifically the means by which communities of learners are built.

Publications about ArtsScapers include:

Hay, Penny; Sapsed, Ruth; Sayers, Esther; Benn, Melissa and Rigby, Sue. 2020. Creative Activism – learning everywhere with children and young people. FORUM: for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education, 62(1), pp. 91-106. ISSN 0963-8253
Read here

Ayliffe, P., Sapsed, R., Sayers, E. and Whitley, D. (2020) Artscapers published by Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination with funding from Arts Council England.
Read here



Sutton, J. & Sayers, E. (2020) Grow Up. Slam City (Autumn 2020)

Sayers, E. interviewed for Bumps and Grind film about Hackney Bumps Community Project by @holdtighthenry.
Watch here

Sayers, E. & Hackney Bumps Community Group interviewed by editor Henry Kingsford (2020) for The Bumps: a Grassroots Community Project in Grey Skateboard Magazine, Vol. 05, Issue 06 (print). Read here.

Sayers, E. & Griffin, S. (2020) City Mill Skate: Skateboarding, Architecture and Community in Callan-Riley, T., Holsgens, S., Campkin, B., Ross, R. Urban Pamphleteer #8: Skateboardings. UCL Urban Laboratory: UK.
Read here

Sayers, E interviewed by editor Arthur Derrien (2019) for Skateboarding, Pedagogy and Motherhood in Free Skateboarding Magazine (online).
Read here

Sayers E. (2019) The Materiality of Skateboarding: motion as material, creator, editor and producer of a film as artwork made for a guest spot on Laura White’s tenderfoot.
View here

Sam Griffin

Sam Griffin is an artist, writer and researcher based in London and has exhibited across the UK and internationally. Sam has also participated in numerous skate-related projects, including contributions to publications, lecture programmes and designs for skateable architecture.

Skate Related Projects

Design and installation of skateable objects at the Southbank Undercroft as part of The Side Effects of Urethane project in 2004.

Translator/editor for the English-language edition of Dank magazine:

Contributor to Grey Skate Magazine:

Translator/editor for the English language edition of On a Day With No Waves: A Chronicle of Skateboarding, by Raphael Zarka. Published by Éditions B42:

Chair for Documenting Skateboard History panel discussion at The Bartlett School of Architecture, May 13th 2019:


Sayers, E. & Griffin, S. (2020) City Mill Skate: Skateboarding, Architecture and Community in Callan-Riley, T., Holsgens, S., Campkin, B., Ross, R. Urban Pamphleteer #8: Skateboardings. UCL Urban Laboratory: UK.

Griffin, S. (2015) Skateboarding in the Age of Mechanical Image Reproduction in Chiara Santini Parducci (ed.) Do Not Think. Oxylane Art Foundation, Berlin.

Griffin, S, (2011) in Francesca Gavin (ed.). 100 New Artists. Laurence King, UK