Subverting Terrain Vague: viewing Heuristic Change through Skateboarding, Auto-construction and Movement

Subverting Terrain Vague: viewing Heuristic Change through Skateboarding, Auto-construction and Movement

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Terrain vagues, under a skateboarding perspective, are useful lands. They are spaces that become skateparks and transform the neo-liberal tempo of our cities. From them, skaters may acquire material to use in the construction of rudimentary obstacles for street skating and project their identities by means of performative usage, thereby subverting the concept of vague. Using ethnographic material obtained from fieldwork in select cities Portugal, I aim to produce a theoretical approach that combines elements of urban theory, architectural thinking and anthropological methodology.
The act of stealing materials from terrain vagues not only constructs new meanings for these objects, but also invokes a sentiment of auto-construction and re-creation. The empty may be seen as such from the perspective of some urban users, whereas through the skater’s lens it will acquire new meanings through acts of subversion.
I will correlate these discursive productions with current urban and anthropological rhetorics such as auto-construction and the heuristic value of how the city reads itself. By considering a reversal of symbolic construction in the core usage of terrain vague, one can construct a narrative of how cities consider sports. Here I wish to invert the scope: ask not how skaters read the vague, but what does vague utilization by skaters reveal about the ways sport structures are planned and built amidst contemporary cities.
Lastly, I will consider these arguments and revise the notion of terrain vague. What can the empty, the absent, and the obsolete objects that dwell in these lots symbolically construct? Like walkscapes, skateboarding entails movement and usage of urban components. Skateboarding alters the core of urban projects, offers much to how cities can be read, and expands our notion of the vague. Acknowledging these ideas will therefore contribute to the interdisciplinary study of urban theories.

Corresponding Author

Tomás Pereira Botelho


Author #1:

Tomás Pereira Botelho


Author #2:

Ava Chantal Johnson Szychalski

Author #3:

Author #4:

Preferred Track

3. Terrain vague redevelopments

Second Preferred Track

6. Urban policies

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