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The Skateboard As a Swiss Army Knife for Urban Living

Coat hanger, bottle opener, laptop desk? A French artist shows that a skateboard can be all of these, and more.

Recently, Bettery Magazine had French street artist Florian Rivière and tree-dwelling German sustainability guru Michael Braungart ruminate on the question, “How can urban communities work together to increase happiness and overall well-being?”

The answer, according to Rivière, relates to using facets of the public space in new and interesting ways. Of course he'd say that: This is a guy who made a roll-up crosswalk and turned Dublin into one giant gymnasium. But Rivière followed up his argument with an interesting experiment in "urban hacktivism." With a video crew in tow, the artist hit the streets of Brighton to see how many completely different uses he could find for a run-of-the-mill skateboard.

Seems that when you put your mind to it, a skateboard can become like a Swiss Army Knife of daily existence: coat hanger, laptop desk and bottle opener were some of the new functions the artist discovered for his board. I would argue that he missed out on "rump scratcher" and "bludgeon with which to threaten charity canvassers," but that's just me:

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.