Reinterpreting the City: Skate Culture and the Streets of Barcelona

Xavi Camino

*Corresponding author: Xavi Camino

Original Language

Cite this article

Camino, X. (2008). Reinterpreting the City: Skate Culture and the Streets of Barcelona. Apunts. Educación Física y Deportes, 91, 54-65.



This article observes the development of the practice of skateboarding on and around the streets of Barcelona, as an example of informal appropriation of the urban public space, which leaves clearly visible the contradictions that are generated in the production of city spaces: between representational provisions realised and installed by city technical experts and urban politicians, and the unforeseen practices and meanings which the city’s users in-turn develop for themselves. To achieve this assessment, the paper starts from a base of data extracted from a field-study undertaken between 2003 and 2007 using methods typical to anthropological research, including participant observations and in depth interviews. After explaining the current situation and the theoretical perspective that we have adopted, we focus on the cultural study of this urban experience, from its origins to the present day. Then we describe how the cultural phenomenon has developed itself in Barcelona, attending to the dialectic between the City Council, the skaters and other users of the city. Following events chronologically, we look at how the proliferation of a design for the city’s public space, which internationalises the image of Barcelona, during the latter part of the 1990’s, also favours its international recognition as a place suitable for the practice of skateboarding.


Keywords: Architecture and Urban Design, Informal Appropriation, Public Space, skateboarding, streetstyle.

ISSN: 1577-4015

Published: January 1, 2008