anybody ever see any real parkour aka 'freerunning' live or is it something only performed for video cameras and then posted to youtube with an eminen soundtrack, blogs or mtv?

It would be an interesting first year studio/summer school project to design a place for extreme alternative human movement with the situationalists as the assigned reading...

first we had to start adding pucks and studs to railings to keep skaters from grinding, next are we sticking razorwire everywhere?

or is this darwinism at work?

Apr 11, 08 11:29 pm

That's some kind of cool Salk Institute rip-off in the back of that first pic there, tk.

I've never seen this in real life but I knew a kid once who made a really funny satirical video about "jumping" which was like skateboarding down stairs and stuff only without the skateboard--and then a few years later I saw an actual bit on MTV about real people totally unironically participating in this activity.

So... everytime I see stuff like this I'm inclined to think someone screwed up and ripped off a satire...

Apr 11, 08 11:42 pm  · 

there are also those guys who do urban climbing and base jumping who might be interesting. or you can pull a Rem and do a underground house

Apr 12, 08 9:36 am  · 
brian buchalski

on the one hand, i'm inclined to doubt that you could really do much designing either for or against free-running. it's fundamentally an activity about creatively adapting to whatever is already there.

having said that, i did catch a report on television about the parkour scene in france. it included a rather unusual concrete tower built in a park on the outskirts of paris that the free-runners loved to use for practice/challenge. it was several stories tall and kind of reminded me of a gaudi designed fire tower. i believe it's now closed off because of the danger of people climbing it since that was never really the intended purpose and it obviously poses safety risks.

Apr 12, 08 10:04 am  · 

isn't 'risk' the name of the game? Are we so fearful of liability as a society, that we need to swaddle all teenagers and young adults in giant airbags to keep them from hurting themselves? what about riding a fixed gear bike in SF?

isn't taking risks what defines youth and part of what makes us human?

Apr 12, 08 10:19 am  · 
brian buchalski

this is what i was talking dame du lac

Apr 12, 08 11:43 am  · 

Alex over at pruned posted an interesting companion piece to same request by Landscape Architecture Magazine that inspired this thread.

Apr 12, 08 6:47 pm  · 
Sean Taylor

Isn't this kind of like providing a space for someone to paint graffiti.

The fact that it is allowed, kind of negates its purpose, no?

Apr 12, 08 11:12 pm  · 

that's the irony of it.

Apr 13, 08 11:41 am  · 

I must admit the idea of landscapes flattening into 1 dimension because very surface becomes "useable" is intriguing.

As for the use of L-Archs. I would think that very interesting things could be done with regards to the shaping of planes...
Which is basically what the first sentence is referencing.

Apr 13, 08 3:14 pm  · 

there is a local group around the corner from mi casa that does parkour

interesting to watch, but i haven't been that agile since i was like 12.

Apr 13, 08 3:43 pm  · 

I'm thinking that many of fountains and plazas by Halprin qualify as great parkour spaces as much as they suck for skating.

keller fountain

just don't slip!

Apr 13, 08 6:41 pm  · 

Or just wait until they turn it off.

Apr 13, 08 6:43 pm  · 

whoa. that looks mighty familiar...

i've been to freeway park several times, never realized it was a halprin project as well.

"destination of the displaced"

and an interesting article on the not so glamorous history of freeway park

Apr 13, 08 7:12 pm  · 
Mmmm... Le beau David Belle...
Apr 13, 08 9:27 pm  · 

I did parkour for a bit, nothing too snazzy though. My first time, I vaulted my porch rail, caught my foot on the rail and landed face first in my mom's flowerbed, about 10 second prior to my face plant my mom had laid some fresh fertilizer down hmmm hmmm hmmm fresh cow manure.

Apr 14, 08 9:19 am  · 

holz, that is a fascinating article.

Apr 14, 08 12:45 pm  · 

yeah. read that before walking through the park @ dusk one evening. rape spaces galore.

Apr 14, 08 1:07 pm  · 

Someone from my Uni doing his thing in the southbank, he's really good, he's been in ads and in a british parkour documentary.

also in a cheesy benz commercial:

Apr 14, 08 7:11 pm  · 

Heh, funny that you guys already picked out Freeway Park and Keller (Halprin fountains) as good spots :) Just about every one of those fountains is a parkour hotspot. Also noticed some of our images in here, glad you like them. I think it's high time the architecture world started noticing us.

You can find out more about parkour (and maybe shift your opinion a bit) here:


Apr 25, 08 12:20 am  · 

Tyson, thanks for dropping by. If you have the time, drop bill thomson of landscape architecture magazine a note about what sorts of places you find exceptional for parkour. you can find his email address at

Apr 25, 08 9:36 am  · 

I've been doing PK for the past three and a half years.
Urban Free Flow is a good place to get the foundations of PK.
A lot of conservative Free Runners would say that the idea of designing particularly for PK goes against the practice itself. I would disagree, because there will be at least one person who will move beyond the limits of the Designer.
The only way I can see you designing a both practical, yet PK oriented environment, would be a plaza or a park.

Jul 14, 08 2:02 am  · 


Welcome to archinect! how did you get started with PK? are you a designer?

A similar sport has emerged in the czech republic that takes parkour to the mountains.


Jul 14, 08 10:38 am  · 

Thanks to Kazys for this exegis of the recent trend in urban détournement:

Modernism = the dérive

Postmodernism = skateboarding

Network Culture = le parkour

Jun 11, 09 2:23 pm  · 
vado retro
Jun 11, 09 4:23 pm  · 

I'm sorry. I am all for people using the environment in new and unexpected ways, and I'm definitely a fan of people heading outside to get some exercise....

But parkour is just about the lamest thing ever.

Here's how it goes:

Those who couldn't skateboard started doing tricks on rollerblades. Those who couldn't do tricks on rollerblades started doing parkour.

Run. Jump. Grab on to a rail.

At least on rollerblades you can get some speed and up the ante. On a skateboard you not only get speed, but the board isn't attached to your feet. About a thousand times more difficult and risky than running around and jumping down some stairs.

Okay, rant over. I'll say that I appreciate people being innovative and having fun, I'm just not sure I see what's so special. Sorry.

Jun 11, 09 4:45 pm  · 

Did some parkour on the back five. They had Lot Matrons out there by the SELLs. It wasn't much in addition to the lawn rolling business. But Man! They saw those guys go down the green slope and just as soon were, like, shot straight out. None of the Lot Matrons we had were too up on the scene, though. Guess you've heard of Our Park as a means of counteracting the MOVEMENT. I'll say that as an aside but you get the meaning.

It was: Run. Jump. Run. Fallows. Clip. Strode. Run Trent and other combos but mostly it was that first combo.

Most important to have yourself a good breakfast. You got guys out there runnin' on nothin' and those are the fellows that get winded and are up to their ears in Lot Matrons before the clivers are drawn. Have a substantial breakfast, I say, and try out that first combo.

Try not to get caught in the "hive," I say.

I say you should also try out some other combos. And don't forget that hearty breakfast, as was discussed!

Jun 11, 09 10:04 pm  · 

How about designing an environment for powerisers?

I think over the past couple of decades people have been incresingly looking at the built environment as an interface for adventure and play - from skateboarding, to parkour, to 'urban exploration', to hash harriers. It's changing the way people look at and interact with architecture. I'd love to see more designers thinking seriously about it.

The fact that it's almost impossible to deliberately build something that caters to an activity that thrives on transgression isn't just an amusing irony, it's also a serious design challenge.

Jun 12, 09 3:11 pm  · 


a few things here and here

Ironic that no one jumped down your throat about inaccurately interchanging freerunning with parkour - the former being more creative and a host of moves, the latter a fixed lexicon of moves that are defined by the most efficient and fastest route through a course.

another thing;

you hypothesized designing spaces for parkour/freerunning but that seems liken to a site specific sculpture being moved. The point of them both is that they can take place anywhere and the urban environment becomes the playground. I think reconciling that matter would make them truly remarkable projects

Jun 12, 09 4:03 pm  · 

Oh and talking about great movies|architecture|parkour scenes

007 Casino Royale


Breaking and Entering (albeit more like freerunning)

Jun 12, 09 4:09 pm  · 

parkour is dead!
MTV has co-opted the anti-establishment 'sport' into a 'contest', all for a measly $10k in prizes. Talk about selling out.

Nov 8, 09 11:18 am  · 

uh, it was over in 2004. when they put it in a james bond film we can officially file it in the 'commodified culture' cabinet. the point of this thread is lost on me.

Nov 8, 09 11:55 am  · 

I've seen a group practicing moves in Harvard Square (probably these guys). While "extreme alternative human movement" and the situationists are both infinitely fascinating subjects, the moment you design for the parkours it stops being alternative. It would be like designing intentionally cheesy posters and to detourne or drawing cadavre exquis all in one go.

On the other hand it would be very interesting to analyze an existing urban situation based on alternative human movement and then, equipped with a more broadened conception of circulation and new representation techniques, design a public plaza for typical human movement. Designing the equivalent of a skatepark or competition venue for parkours to perform is not where the interesting component is nor, really in sneaking parkour obstacles into public space (like, for example this) but rather in the translation of the lessons of parkour into a public space that has bearing on nonalternative human movement.

Nov 10, 09 11:29 am  · 

Doesn't anyone pay right mind to LOT MATRONS? It's "come on," I say.

Jan 24, 10 5:41 am  · 

And what they had before was a description of how they planned on setting up a LOT MATRON for the Quarterly. I've seen them, for one, turning down the Pike on a chance that the clivers would barrel out and somewhere cause the strode combo up on CLIP. It already had turned into something where they were saying this and that, but you never know!

Also, once the green lawn had established rules, everybody kept sticking to the fore and so there was no room at all when it came to the former combo. Then they brought in a three-tiered MATRON scheme to get some of them running. That's exactly what they did.

Once there was a barrel a piece, but those previous guys took it down. Now the hives have become the last vestige of the Alton Strode. They never had any wares as it was. That's why they gave up, I say. Sad day.

Jan 25, 10 9:34 pm  · 


Cat Parkour

Sep 9, 10 8:49 am  · 

haha, thanks tm.

Sep 9, 10 5:38 pm  · 

The Office - Parkour
Parkour = internet sensation in 2004
The goal: get from point A to point B as creatively as possible.

Sep 10, 10 9:04 pm  · 

I would think that the notion of designing a space for parkour is counter-productive since it is something that can, and in some way should happen anywhere in the built environment.

Also watching parkour makes me want to become a orthopaedic surgeon

Sep 10, 10 10:27 pm  · 

i still think that the episode of the Office where they parkour is one of the funniest ever

Dec 10, 10 8:54 pm  · 

^ spam alert

Dec 18, 10 3:55 pm  · 

destroyed all street cred of parkour. once reality tv features a subculture, that's the end of it....

Dec 27, 10 2:02 pm  · 

tree, whatever it is I am blocked from accessing that site from my work network

Dec 27, 10 4:49 pm  · 

it's the G4 network's 'american ninja warrior' show. I'm sorry to even know about the show...

Dec 28, 10 11:15 am  · 

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