Monday, November 17, 2008

Alternative Uses of Architecture

Parkour, or Free Running, hit the global scene with the making of Jump London, in London in 2003. Since then, the skills of the art have been practiced vigorously on both high and low architectural structures. There is some contention that Parkour, founded by Frenchman, David Belle and Free Running, founded by Sebastien Foucan are really the same sport. However, the founders insist that there are distinct differences. Parkour as a discipline comprises efficiency, while free running embodies complete freedom of movement — and includes many acrobatic maneuvers. Although the two often look physically similar, the mindsets of each are vastly different. Parkour, strives for efficiency and humility, while Free Running strives for self-development and freedom. However, to make things simple, most in the West refer to all such activities as Free Running.

Just to emphasize the the importance of architecture to the sport, a new book "LA Climbs: Alternative Uses For Architecture" by author Alex Hartley, was recently released. The publication had a series of LA buildings analyzed not for architectural merit, but, rather, for how one might interact with the structure and space as field of unfolding sequences by someone running, hopping, climbing, as one would in Pakour or Free Running. The author provides a diagram of each structure he analyses for interaction. This use of architecture for sport could certainly give the planned functionality of the constructed world a wholly different slant. Heads up architects!

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