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Open Access Appropriating Pools: At Play in the Spaces of the City

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This essay examines skateboarding as an architectural act of pleasure that allows private spaces in cities to be appropriated for alternative uses. In particular, the appropriation of swimming pools by skateboarders will be explored, from the renegade to the officially sanctioned, to explore sociopolitical aspects of space. The film Dogtown and Z-Boys (Stacy Peralta, 2001) provides a primary source for this examination, and will be used as a vehicle through which to examine these issues, particularly in Los Angeles. Recent appropriations of swimming pools in New York will provide a secondary reference. In Dogtown and Z-Boys, swimming pools form a playground in which skaters in 1970s Los Angeles re-appropriated urban space for their own use. This paper will argue that the appropriation of swimming pools by skateboarders has provided a viable venue for alternative uses of the city that include both play and dissent. By framing the history of swimming pools in late 20th century America, a case will be presented for how skateboarders' appropriation of swimming pools in 1970s Los Angeles can provide clues to continual opportunities for alternative configurations and uses of twenty-first century urban space.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2016

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  • Architecture_MPS is the academic journal of the research group AMPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society). It addresses the growing interest in the social and political interpretation of the built environment from a multi-disciplinary perspective. It engages with architecture, urbanism, planning, sociology, economics, cultural studies, visual culture, new medias and technologies. It draws on experts who bring emerging issues of international importance to the reader. Its publications are linked with a wide range of research programmes and conferences to further raise awareness of the social importance of architecture.

    This is an Open Access journal, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY). This licence permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. For more information see:

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