It’s about time, we let you know about a very interesting project we did late summer in the city of Liège in the east of Belgium. As pretty much the first project Belgium based Concrete Flow did in its home country we had the honourable mission of extending the legendary Liège snakerun built in 1978 which makes it one of the oldest still existing skateparks in all Europe and the whole planet. Think about that! Our plan was to build an extraordinaire bowl just next to the snakerun separated by the old chunky street area which was supposed to get an upgrade afterwards as well.
For Mr. Concrete Flow, Mike van der Ouderaa, this was an exceptional project to say the least since he already skated when the park was built. And furthermore in 2008 he and some brothers of the Brusk Collective had added some d.i.y. extensions to the snakerun. Mike had the frightening idea to include the fullpipe, that has been laying next to the snakerun ever since, ditch-style into the deep end of the bowl to skate over. And eventually skate through when maybe in a couple years there’s more money to expand the bowl even further and deeper. Story of the fullpipe goes like this: it’s about 7 1/2 feet in diameter and like 20 feet long. It’s hardly skateable, but has been laying next to the park pretty much since the early ’80s. As locals tell the tale, it then once disappeared for two or three years just to reappear out of nowhere a couple meters from the original spot. And you ask yourself who got the idea to move it around for no reason because that’s not an easy task at all. We got the biggest excavator available and still had a hard time putting it into place. Fortunately once moved from its spot behind a tree it could roll down a little hill for a few meters. Have you ever seen a rolling concrete fullpipe? We did…
And let me tell you a little bit about the city of Liegé. It’s a wild place for sure, which you wouldn’t expect at first. But being close to Maastricht and the german border there seems to be a lot of shit going on. There’s heaps of police presence, but they definitely worry more about the serious stuff than about the average skateboarder. If they knew how serious we are, right!?… The part of town where the skatepark is located is just a little bit crusty, but there’s supposed to be parts on the other side of the Mosel where things might be a little ghetto to put it nicely. Other than that it’s a vivid city. I’ve lived in Hamburg for ten years and know a thing or two about decent nightlife, and downtown Liège has an amazing night life at any given day of the week, even though it’s a relatively small city. There’s really cool bars and there are always crowds of people in the streets even on a random, say, Tuesday night. Just don’t step on the junkies…
The locals were super nice and awesome hosts, but still quite little lazy as far as helping out on site goes. It’s always good and welcomed to have some helping hands from the locals at work, in Liège it was literally non-existent. But great people and pure skaters nevertheless. As for laziness there was the exception of one-toothed Roland, though, the kid did good, being a wookie padawan he’s just a little crazy to handle sometimes. Anyhow Liège has a healthy and lovely skate scene, the snakerun always having been the epicentre of it since there are no other good skateparks in town. And from what I’ve seen and skated there’s not that many good street spots besides the city centre either, but the great downhills definitely make up for it. If you are at the skatepark just take the main road to downtown and enjoy a super good one for example. That’s it for a Friday night, hitting the bars after a great session, highly recommended!
As for our building mission, our first job was to demolish the old prefab miniramp that was standing pretty much unskateable at the entrance of the park for at least a century. We took good use of some of the pieces and placed them onto the street area as manual pads for example. So after the first day of work we already had ”built” three new obstacles which was super cool since we would skate there a lot during the following six weeks. As for the bowl, long story short: we as always stretched the ridiculous tiny budget to the limits and pulled to build a very individual bowl with a small and changing but tight crew. I won’t tell you about the more than improvised accommodation situation, let’s just say it was another one of those projects where there was not much profit, if any, to be made. And it was summer, so all good in the hood, we once more proved that we’re in this for a reason and everyone was stoked to be part of this project. This was not just another bowl, this was another chapter of the skate history books at an epic spot and once finished there was just one question: who’s gonna be the first to carve the fullpipe? It sticks out a bit at the top end to make things a little spicier.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the last two days, because I had to leave to prepare my 40st birthday party at home (that’s an alright excuse, I hope). I haven’t been back since, my bad, shit looks tight…
A couple weeks after the bowl was done Mikey returned with an even smaller crew to restore the street area a little bit with an even tinier budget. This time the locals were really supposed to help out a bunch, it was part of the whole budget, but this plan seems to have not worked out successfully. I wasn’t there for this mission, but from what I’ve heard the flat is not something to be too proud of. The street area has without a doubt been improved big time though, considering the flat was consisting of broken tiles for the main part of the last 30 years. Anyhow, the whole package of the legendary snakerun, the street area and the new bowl make this a mandatory travel destination for skateboarders worldwide, I guess. Plan a visit to Liège, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it!
Thanks to the crew Mike, Benoit, Ratman, Koekie, Mikel, Boob, Tom, Alex, Duri, Bruno and Roland. Cheers and a big thanks to Phillipe and all the locals, especially to Roxy and Joran for letting me stay at their crib for two weeks! It was much better than the container for sure. Last but not least a special shout-out to Hans Claessens, always a pleasure to meet you, bro!
Words by Arne Fiehl
Photos by Arne Fiehl / Mike van der Ouderaa