The World’s First High School Built Around a Skate Park Is in Malmö, Sweden



Bryggeriets Gymnasium offers courses in kickflips and bluntslides as part of its curriculum.

Built in 1998, Bryggeriets skate park is located at the heart of the school. It gives students instant access to a landmark facility where they can practice skateboarding.

Skateboarding and school might seem like disparate endeavors—but that’s not the case in Malmö, Sweden. Bryggeriets Gymnasium is an innovative nonprofit high school that uses skating as a teaching tool. Traditional coursework is still required, but the school’s roughly 150 students—many from Norway, Denmark, or the far reaches of Sweden—are also given the opportunity to pursue a skate-centric education that includes ancillary activities like photography, film, and the fine arts.

Each year, vice principal and veteran skate-scene local John Dahlquist builds out a curriculum that morphs according to the students’ interests. The courses “change all the time depending on what the different groups want to get into,” says Dahlquist. “Pro skating is just one part of skateboarding; filming, photography, organizing contests, art, and running companies are just as relevant.” Other areas of study include rehab and nutrition, individual goal setting, and industry studies.

Built in 1998, Bryggeriets skate park is located at the heart of the school. It gives students instant access to a landmark facility where they can practice skateboarding.

Built in 1998, Bryggeriets skate park is located at the heart of the school. It gives students instant access to a landmark facility where they can practice skateboarding.

Photo: Mike Chino

Now a skate mecca, the city of Malmö was once an unlikely candidate to host an alternative high school. The city suffered a collapse of industry in the late ’80s that resulted in high unemployment and decrepit infrastructure. “Malmö was bad for skating,” says Dahlquist. “When the shipyard went under, the city died. But then the harbor became this hub for new architecture.”

In the early 2000s, Dahlquist’s colleague John Magnusson, a skater and ex-professional hockey player who was unemployed at the time, saw an opportunity. Sweden requires civic participation to earn unemployment, so Magnusson collected an allowance by taking a course in project leadership. His focus? A brand new waterfront skate park designed by skater Stefan Hauser. When Stapelbäddsparken was built, it turned heads across Europe.

The Stefan Hauser–designed Stapelbäddsparken skate park in Malmö, Sweden, was finished in 2005. It's the largest cement park in Europe.

The Stefan Hauser–designed Stapelbäddsparken skate park in Malmö, Sweden, was finished in 2005. It’s the largest cement park in Europe.

Courtesy of Bryggeriets

Bryggeriets skate park regular Pontus Alv then unknowingly gave the city another nudge, pushing it into the international spotlight. In 2005 Alv’s skate film “The Strongest of The Strange” exposed a thriving DIY skate scene in Malmö that rivaled that of California and Portland, Oregon—and Malmö suddenly became a compelling destination for skate contests and tourism.

City governments have rarely allied with skateboarders—some whom notoriously champion an antiestablishment ethos. But in the midst of a new zeitgeist, Malmö’s officials embraced the activity as part of the city’s new identity. The city revamped public spaces by installing cement ledges for grinding, hosted more contests, and turned popular spots—like the Train Banks (known as TBS among locals)—into cultural landmarks. One such contest, Skate Malmö Street, is a yearly event that operates citywide. The city still invites landscape architects to design temporary and permanent skateboarding features around town.

Bryggeriets skate park celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. In 2006, the city granted the board permission to start a high school—Bryggeriets Gymnasium—on the premises, making it the first school to teach skateboarding as a serious discipline.

Bryggeriets skate park celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. In 2006, the city granted the board permission to start a high school—Bryggeriets Gymnasium—on the premises, making it the first school to teach skateboarding as a serious discipline.

Photo by Alexander Slotte

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