In Spring 2013, I worked in a team of four to design a product for winter surfers in New England. This was for a class at Olin College, User Oriented Collaborative Design (UOCD for short). Over the course of the semester, we met a number of surfers and worked to understand their needs, values and requirements and come up with a product that could change their lives for the better. This process required us to act as everything from ethnogrophers to architects and our product was recieved very positively by all of our users.
As it turns out, we weren't the only thing that think that an urban waterfront surf park is a good idea. Eighteen months later, a group in Melbourne, Australia is working to build an extremely similar park to the one we envisioned.
Winter Surfing in New England is cold, remote & unpredictable. The surf is often erratic and only the dedicated can balance surfing with their families and jobs. Surf facilities are basic and surfers change outside their cars and struggle to warm up after coming in. Few non-surfers know of the sport’s prevalence, appreciate it or think to try it.
To address the challenges faced by Winter Surfers in New England, we propose the Urban Surf Park. The surf park is a paradigm shift for surfers and improves the way they learn to surf, practice surfing and involve other people in the sport.
For the SURF ADDICT - The Surf Park provides consistent and controlled waves so that Chris can enhance his practice sessions and improve his skills.
For the FAMILY MAN -The Surf Park allows Frank’s family to participate in his surf life. His family can watch him in comfort and try surfing in a safe environment. Child care services put Frank at ease by watching his daughter as he surfs.
For the COMMUNITY BUILDER - The Surf Park thrusts surfing into the public eye and provides a space for Steve to share his passion with non-surfers. The centralized facility also acts as a community center, allowing for surf movie showings, clam bakes and other community events.
For the NEW SURFER - The Surf Park’s convenient location and controlled waves allow Will to teach his wife to surf on the weekends and in the evening after work. Equipment rentals lower the necessary capital investment.