A New Concrete Infrastructure
Concrete as a material has long been used to create infrastructure. Concrete bridges, buildings, stadiums and parking garages along with pipes, vaults and foundations make up more than a healthy share of any urban or suburban landscape. Statues and occasional artwork also usually public in nature were for centuries accepted uses for concrete. In recent years concrete has become more artistic and more personal with the popularity of concrete counter tops, sinks and other quality household infrastructure.
Building a new concrete infrastructure in North America probably started in the 1970’s and again in earnest in the late 1990’s with the rise and then demolition and rebirth of skateboard parks. Skateboarding began as an activity in the concrete jungle of urban California and quickly spread into backyard pools where current infrastructure made for impromptu magic. Skate parks followed soon after. Concrete was no longer used only for it’s structural properties. Skateboarding made concrete an interactive sport. Skateboarding is an extreme sport riders defy gravity and probability to pump, air, spin, flip and grind at risk of broken bones and sometimes life and limb. The outcomes of these concrete interactions are joy, playfulness, frustration, accomplishment, healthy lifestyle and competition.
Meanwhile in China and then Europe concrete was being used for another durable sport project. This one much less extreme, but also epic in it’s scope. Table Tennis tables made of concrete first popped up in Chinese parks. They didn’t pop up one at a time, they popped up by the thousands. Rows of a dozen or more tables hosting games of ping pong became commonplace as the Gov’t of China purposefully focused it’s athletic structure around Table Tennis! Years later Germany and then other European nations followed. The relatively low cost and high use Concrete Table Tennis Tables are in schoolyards parks and other public gathering places. Germany is where we first encountered Concrete Ping Pong Tables. During a walk along a public path by the Rhine River I encountered a ping pong table made out of concrete. I was stunned, I wanted to play, and I felt a bit jilted that these weren’t in every park in America!