Vans recently announced the release of DERP*, an urban exploration project featuring their European skateboarding team. The video series is filmed in three European cities: Dubrovnik, Croatia; Hanover, Germany; and Athens, Greece. These cities all share a similar fate in that they have many landmarks that were once bustling but are now abandoned—their beauty faded from years of neglect.
These urban wastelands become compelling backdrops for exceptional street skating. The structures in half decay, covered in graffiti and strewn with debris, are briefly revitalized when each skater tests his boundaries—and the skaters are all up for the challenge, each delivering on smooth transitions, board flips, and flight.
Episode 1: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Conflict in the early ’90s took out the Kupari Tourist Complex, located near the Croatian Riviera. Looking out to the sea, an abandoned hotel becomes a reclaimed playground offering its wide staircases and concrete gutters. The team sweeps away years of debris and is rewarded.
Episode 2: Hanover, Germany
Expo 2000 was a World’s Fair designed with lofty intent but was ultimately a financial failure. Set against the backdrop of fluid walls, the team skates a curving labyrinth of concrete moguls covered in graffiti, reminiscent of a subterranean parking garage.
Episode 3: Athens, Greece
The team revisits the site of the 2004 Olympics and what was once the Olympic Village. Hopping fences is the game, and they enter an amphitheater and skate its banked sides, rails in an abandoned catering facility, and what looks to be a deserted public pool by the sea.
The series is entertaining, skateboarding fan or not. You’ll see no derelict behavior—only derelict spaces, reinvented through eyes that can clearly see a newfound purpose. And who knows, perhaps in time these once grand spaces will become inspired once again.
*DERP (dûrp); n. Slang: Syllabic abbreviation of derelict and places, used by “urban exploration” community to denote a disused or abandoned area.