The Byrrrh & Skate Project
presented by Levi’s Skateboarding
Every local skate scene needs motivated peops who get involved to support skateboarding, making exchanges happening and let the scene thrive. It’s about dedication, passion and putting a lot of heart into it.
After the Roller Park in Anderlecht/ Belgium closed down, Youssef Abaoud and friends had to get creative to survive the winters. By collecting scraps of wood, leftover materials and old skate ramps, he was able to built pop up DIY ramps in old abandoned buildings.
On a lucky day, Youssef came across an empty warehouse, which was dry, lit-up, had smooth floors and was vacant until further notice. Within a couple weeks the hall was set up and the name Byrrh (a popular French aperitif) was already hung over the doorway from former use. An extra R was added to the name for style points and the project was born. Two winters later another location followed, but brought again trouble with owners and co-partners, who were drawing to much attention with parties..
The third time is the charm.. How did you find the location?
While we were in the first building, somebody came by who wanted to build a boat from the scratch and It happend that he worked for City Gate, which is a real estate company that buys old buildings to renovate or tore them down. After we got kicked out from the first place, he was like: ”Wait, maybe I have a place for you”. After a while we got in contact again, waited again and he came up with this place! The location is still developing and different groups are getting involved, like some filmmakers for example.
How do you connect to the neighborhood and the scene?
We connected with the sports politician and the local community. Twice a month we’re implementing an activity program with skate courses for kids in different neighborhoods. So we’ll pack the van with some obstacles and get involved with the community. Of course we want to bring the local kids together and will offer half-price for the entrance. As you know, summer time is not the most popular time for a skate halls, so we plan one week in July & August with the kids to show them skate spots in Belgium, organize skate workshops, do art stuff, and build obstacles, which they can bring back to their neighborhoods. This summer we’ll try to raise money to build an DIY park right outside the skate hall.
We always keep the same obstacles from the beginning and always adapt them according to the venue. The first obstacle s is always the half pyramid and the main piece ton start with. It’s simply because the construction consists of euro pallets, then we go further with the corners, which developed from wood to concrete corners this time.
How did you pull off the amazing granite edges?
We have a friend in another town close by, who is running a tombstone business and was able to give us extra plates and cut outs for the ledges.
I love the half-round metal piece / ledge, which looks like a character..
Ahh, this one is the last piece which was left from a snake. We try to use everything we find
How did you get artists involved?
This happened quite organically as the Hell’O Collective are good friends of mine. They designed a graphic for the BYRRRH skateboard edition to raise money for the park and took over the walls outside to make this place more inviting.
I would like to thank everybody who got involved, especially Levi’s Skateboarding for helping to set up this hall! Besides making this indoor skate park happening, my aim was to bring all the Brussels skate scenes together. Everyone knows each other, but a central meeting point and a stronger unity was missing.
On Saturday 6th May, the Byrrrh Jam officially opened the 945 sqm park to locals and skateboarders from across Europe. Levi’s skateboarding hosted different activities, live music by La Jungle, a photography exhibition about Youssef’s & The Byrrrh story, an 18+ cash prize skate competition as well as food, drinks and awesome times!
black and white photography: Al_Bo, snaps: jk