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Transversal Lines: Parkour and the movement of the body in public space

Meagan Kerr June 2009


1.

Abstract

This paper is an investigation of public space, focusing on the movement of the body and its influence on the spatial experience of the user. The paper will analyse different types of movement generated in urban public space through the sport of parkour. Emerging patterns in the choreography of parkour will be used to develop an understanding of spatial experience and bodily relationships within public space. The city, comprising the continual surfaces of the built landscape and its surrounding public spaces, functions not as isolated and fragmented edges but a collective of continuous surface types which the body directly engages and interacts with. The movement of the body in public space can integrate urban textures as a combination of horizontal and vertical surfaces. Parkour’s engagement in both these planes can transform conventional techniques for viewing and inhabiting public space. The discipline of architectural history and theory is yet to investigate this aspect of urban design in a scholarly context, and has tended to address the horizontal and vertical façade as independent and isolated functions. Parkour provides a lens for investigating the emerging pattern of movement against urban surfaces and their textures and establishes a framework for reinterpreting public space and its associated functions. Through a 3dimensional analysis of two parkour sites in Newcastle, this paper will map and record the textures of urban space and the ways in which they are used as platforms for parkour.

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Table of Contents 1. Abstract

2

2. Introduction

5

3. Background

8

4. Theoretical Context

11

4.1. Literature Review

11

4.1.1. Urban conditions and everyday life

12

4.1.2. Play and the urban realm

13

4.1.3. Thresholds, boundaries and paths

15

4.2. Summary

16

4.3. Research Gap / Question

16

5. Method

18

5.1. Approach

18

5.2. Methodology

19

5.3. Documentation

19

6. Findings

21

6.1. Area 1 – Wheeler Place

23

6.1.1. Junctions – Study Area 1

25

6.1.2. Observation and Triangulation – Study Area 1

31

6.2. Area 2 – Civic Park

34

6.2.1. Junctions - Study Area 2

36

6.2.2. Observation and Triangulation – Study Area 2

40

7. Conclusion

42

8. Bibliography

44

9. Appendix A – Parkour Terminology

47

10. Endnotes

50

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List of Figures Figure 1 - Handstand on rail, Source: http://www.americanparkour.com/gallery2

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Figure 2 - Dame du Lac, Lisses, Source: http://farm2.static.flickr.com

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Figure 3 – Location Diagram, Dame du Lac, Source: Google Earth

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Figure 4 - Research Gap

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Figure 5 - Methodology, Source: Author, adapted from (O'Leary Z. , 2004)

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Figure 6 – Study area location diagram, Source: Google Earth

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Figure 7 – Study Area 1 - Wheeler Place

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Figure 8 – Study Area 2 - Civic Park

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Figure 9 – Section - existing transversal lines in Study Area 1

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Figure 10 – Plan – Junctions of transversal lines, Study Area 1

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Figure 11 – Junction at transversal line 1 & 2, Study Area 1

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Figure 12 – Junction at transversal line 2 & 3, Study Area 1

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Figure 13 – Junction at transversal line 3 & 4, Study Area 1

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Figure 14 – Junction elements of Study Area 1

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Figure 15 – 3-dimensional diagram of transversal line 5 - Study Area 1

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Figure 16 - Saut de detente (gap jump) over transversal line 4, Source: Coconut Graphics

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Figure 17 - Triangulation example in Study Area 1

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Figure 18 - Movement through Wheeler Place

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Figure 19 - Multiple triangulations, Study Area 1

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Figure 20 - Comfortable non-participant observation points

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Figure 21 - Passe Muraille (wall pass) in Civic Park

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Figure 22 – Section - existing transversal lines in Study Area 2

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Figure 23 – Plan - existing transversal lines in Study Area 2

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Figure 24 – Junctions in Study Area 2

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Figure 25 – Junction elements of Study Area 2

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Figure 26 – Passement on stairs at intersection 1/4

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Figure 27 - Sequences at Intersection 1/3

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Figure 28 - Triangulation of Study Area 2

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2.

Introduction

David Belle runs towards a solid wall that defines the boundary between an underpass and a public walkway. David moves with purpose and his movements are controlled. Spectators look on with intense anticipation. As he approaches the wall and the gap closes, he prepares himself. As he jumps, his calloused hands reach out to propel himself over the barrier. At this moment the anticlimax in the vaults faulted completion is realised. His second foot does not clear the barrier and sends his body out of control and he falls. He pulls his injured body from the ground and he is excited. The fall was invigorating. The series of movements were tangible as he choreographed himself into the framework of solid forms in this architectural space1. His art form is parkour and it apprehends the environment that surrounds us through the movement of the human body. Parkour aims to face all the obstacles with no bias of trajectory, which exist in the natural and built environments. Parkour engages in a dialectical relationship between space and the body. David Belle grew up in the French commune, Lisses in the Île-de-France region during the 1970s. He developed his skills through his background of martial arts, athletics and gymnastics. He is heralded as the founder of the parkour movement. This research investigates a series of patterns that emerge between the textures of public space and the choreography of parkour. Parkour is a bodily art form that draws very heavily from the surfaces and texture of public space and provides a unique lens through which architecture and the built environment can be viewed. A traceur’s2 unconventional use of public space provides a discursive platform for reconsidering the design of urban space and providing a broader understanding of how these spaces might be used. Daskalaki, Stara and Imas (2008, p. 56), for example, have demonstrated the way that parkour and the philosophy of parkour can “offer a revealing medium for exploring the relationship between the environment and the human body in everyday situations, between architecture and movement, [...], freedom and control”. A specific study of two architectural spaces and human movement creates a platform for further expanding upon this model of freedom and control. The observation of these relationships contributes important knowledge to the disciplines of architecture and urban design, promoting a broader understanding of the alternate and less-conventional patterns of movement that can be associated with the body in public space.

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Drawing on ideas relating to ‘play’ which have been theorised by Quentin Stevens, among others, the paper will investigate the public street and its pedestrian patterns to establish the extent to which urban surfaces promote and encourage specific activities and behaviours in public space. Through the examination of parkour movements, the research will map the choreography performed in the horizontal plane against the movements performed in the vertical. The research will demonstrate that the existing and constructed transversal lines in the spaces have a direct impact on the behaviour and movement that is observed. The connection made through parkour suggests that the facades of buildings and the surface and textures of the vertical landscape are one and the same. Urban characteristics are a manifestation of a city’s physical surface and texture. Irrespective of surface type and orientation, material, or intended use, the human body’s ability to challenge these characteristics through parkour collectively engages architecture and public space. This research will address the concept of collective textures within public space and architecture through a study of three key areas: the urban condition and the everyday use of public space; play and the urban realm; and thresholds, boundaries and paths. These three categories will be explored through an analysis of two urban spaces in Newcastle to quantify the movements. The analysis of the two urban spaces will adopt a technique of measuring traceurs’ movements across both new and existing transversal lines. They will be recorded, measured and graphically analysed to find trends and patterns of movement through the two spaces. The research will aim to present the findings, as a contribution to the way the fields of architecture and urban understand the movement of the body in public space.

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Figure 1 - Handstand on rail, Source: http://www.americanparkour.com/gallery2

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3.

Background

Parkour is derived from the term parcours du combatant. In the 1900s Georges Hébert proposed a new form of physical training, which is now recognised as the classic obstacle course used in military fitness and agility training. Parcours du combattant comprise ten exercise groups: walking, running, jumping, quadruple movement, climbing, balance, throwing, lifting, defending and swimming. Parkour has adapted these fundamentals where the athlete or traceur aims to overcome obstacles in the most efficient and fluid way possible. In context, these obstacles are elements found in urban public space and the adjacent architecture. Traceur’s use practised movements to surmount obstacles combining the skills of gymnastics, dance, martial arts and rock climbing. Parkour is a free flowing, physical art form that transforms or evolves to suit any particular urban setting. The variations of materiality, facade dimension and scale found in these objects are desirable to the sport of parkour, where public space abundantly provides these features. Parkour unites the physical and physiological challenges that are presented in the heights and textures of the elements in public space. Daskalaki et al (2008, p. 56) state that “[parkour] is an urban phenomenon and the cityscape is an integral part of it. Jumping offers [traceurs] a sense of freedom when engaging with pre-defined perceptual routes and regimented experiences [in public space]. Buildings become nodes of creativity towards an ever-changing range of routes and possibilities”. The authors argue that the regular trajectories of transition that are established in public spaces are a place for experience in possibility and creativity. The cityscape provides an abundance of boundaries and thresholds that dictate the usage of space, however, parkour challenges these limitations by liberating the definition of public space. Iain Borden states in Skateboarding, Space and the City, that skateboarding is a dialectical production of architectural space. Borden relates a skateboarder’s experience of public space to be “found’, constructed and of body space”. The resemblance of skateboarding to parkour is that both sports “form a resistance to cityscapes that alienate, restrict and subjugate”. Daskalaki et al refer to the difference in objective between skate boarders and traceurs. Skate boarding typically seeks a set of boundaries that comprise a series of hard surfaces, street furniture and built elements. Parkour’s philosophy3 is to use the cityscape as a way to move forward through a series of spaces. A traceur uses their surroundings to improve their ability to move in space. By interacting with obstacles, such as the urban architecture or the natural environment, the traceur becomes more comfortable controlling his or her body and navigating any terrain.

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The architectural structure, La Dame du Lac (by Hungarian Architect, Pierre Szekely, 1975) is located in Lisses, the town of David Belle’s upbringing, and is considered a place of pilgrimage for parkour, see Figure 2 and Figure 3, pp10. The icon is located in a prominent large open space adjoining a lower class suburb. Random public space is normal and desirable when training for parkour. In contrast, however, Dame du Lac is a facility specifically designed for parkour training. The juxtaposition of the Dame du Lac’s function is that the philosophy of parkour aims to focus on harnessing the characteristics of the elements “found” in the built and natural environment where movements are performed with no bias or prescribed route. This monument is the exception as it is celebrated and embodies the philosophy of parkour within a repressed community. Newcastle as a city facilitates the activity of parkour through its combination of inner city parks, pedestrian streets and laneways. The separation of activity pockets in Newcastle promotes the training of parkour. The reality of parkour is that the practice is quite repetitive and within this seclusion of space a traceur can build an embodied knowledge of the movements and their relationship to the spatial forms (Saville, 2008).

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Figure 2 - Dame du Lac, Lisses, Source: http://farm2.static.flickr.com

Figure 3 – Location Diagram, Dame du Lac, Source: Google Earth

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4.

Theoretical Context

4.1.

Literature Review Play is an important but largely neglected aspect of people’s experience of urban society and urban space. It involves controversial expenditures of time and energy, ‘unfunctional’, economically inefficient, impractical and socially unredemptive activities which are often unanticipated by designers, managers and other users. Play reveals the potentials that public spaces offer. (Stevens, 2007, p. 1)

This research will investigate play in an urban context through the movement and choreography of parkour. This concept will be tested against key themes that have been identified by Quentin Stevens (2007) in The Ludic City. Stevens presents the notion of play through an understanding of the following key themes: 1. Urban conditions and everyday life, 2. Play and the urban realm, 3. Thresholds, boundaries and paths These themes can be explored through parkour to suggest another interpretation of play in public space. A framework structured on these themes will establish which patterns of movement can begin to emerge. The research will build upon constructivist models and phenomenological approaches to space and the body, such as those developed by Merleau-Ponty (1962), to bring together the concepts of engagement, reciprocity and inhabitation to describe the dialectic relationship between space, body and the built environment.

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4.1.1. Urban conditions and everyday life Public space should be seen as accessible, open and indiscriminate for the public’s use as a function within any city structure. These spaces are settings for public intervention. The structure for the use of public space can be formal or informal. This research will focus on public space as a “setting for informal, non-instrumental social interaction and play” (Stevens, 2007).

Play as an

intervention “transforms places into spaces and spaces into places” (Auge, 2006, p. 174). Auge describes the parallel between place as an assembly of elements coexisting in a certain order and the space as animation of these places by the motion of a moving body. Cities are typically seen as the engines of modern economic life. Cities are thus principally planned to optimise work and other practical, rational, preconceived objectives, and are designed accordingly, with even leisure spaces serving well-defined functions (Stevens, 2007, p. 5)

Quentin Stevens (2007) argues that it is the urban condition that unites the public in the act of everyday life. He suggests that the city structure facilitates work and other preconceived objectives. A traceur uses public space as a means for experience, enrichment and recreation. The objective of combining the textures and elements of public space is to create a narrative experience. “Spaces derived from unplanned, spontaneous, and creative individual and collective actions and urges are central to a vibrant city life” (Zelinka & Johnston, 2005, p. 42). Zelinka et al writes about these spaces as accidental spaces. They are subjective areas because they can be temporary, permanent, un-designed, impromptu and unexpected. Zelinka et al defines accidental spaces as “specific, definable, public or quasi-public locations within communities for productive purposes other than or in addition to their intended purpose”. These spaces have been categorised into three types of space and relate directly to parkour. These categories are, people centred, activity linked and event based. Public space should maintain a common perception of unique character, sense of place, safety, comfort, visibility and proximity. “Places provide a backdrop and setting but do not shape the interaction in any meaningful way” (Forsyth, 2006). Forsyth shapes an exact interpretation of a place for the sport of parkour. Traceurs deliberately create a barrier between the sensory characteristics of their urban path. This approach is intentional to avoid preconceived limitations that they may place on their choreography within the type of public space. This is a key notion of parkour philosophy in maintaining fluidity and consistency.

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4.1.2.

Play and the urban realm 4

The flaneur is defined as a constant seeker of impressions and stimuli [...] but he does so in a spirit of idle curiosity, without any objective of learning anything or reaching understanding [...] The flaneur, then cultivates polymorphousness and discontinuity in leisure [...] He makes a virtue out of idleness and values the sense above reason. (Rojek, 1995, p. 91)

An interaction with the urban landscape does not incite the same functional experience that a member from the general public would expect to take from a public space. Mitchell states that ‘the goal of a traceur is to run, jump, vault, twist, and climb through an urban environment in as fast and fluid a way as possible’ (Mitchell, 2005, p. 156). This is because the urban landscape provides a setting for parkour to choreograph an art form, a sport, and a philosophy. What brings the art of parkour into the city? The city lures a traceur into its public spaces with the promise of a challenge. An increase in the populations of cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, suggests that the public is becoming more inclined to use cities as a recreational playground. Traceurs are familiar with the pedestrian realm and the built urban structure. A motivation of parkour is to succeed and overcome obstacles quickly, efficiently, and without disruption to their path. By this method of traversing public space and pedestrian boundaries, parkour should be interpreted as a way of completing and fulfilling personal objectives, within the public street. Parkour in this sense enriches public space by inserting the body into its composition. The position of Daskalaki et al (2008) on the body in public space refers to a constructivist approach that is the notion of appropriating a “demonstration of how users of space participate in giving meaning to a space”. This paper focuses on the corporate space in cities and the way it structures the experience of public space. Daskalaki et al sees the practice and philosophy of parkour in these spaces to be “urban activism” and argues that parkour is capable of “transforming the otherwise alienating non-places, to grounds of possibility, creativity and civic identity”. Iain Borden has identified skateboarding as a precedent for renewing the thinking of architectural spaces. The skateboarding community first publically extended the sport into the American street and public space in 1980s. Skateboarders at this time were considered “urban guerrillas”. “[Skate boarders] can exist on the essentials of what is out there, [on] any terrain. For urban skaters the city is the hardware on their trip”, (2001, p. 179). Skateboarding is a recreational precedent for the sport

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of parkour, as it establishes the notion that the public street has been transformed into a canvas for play. Notionally, skateboarding was restricted to the skate park. It was not until the 1980s when the definition of architectural, urban elements was challenged through demonstration. The elements presented a series of boundaries that the act of play in skateboarding began to challenge. ”The physical boundaries of space can be very definite, obvious and determinant of peoples actions” (Stevens, 2007, p. 144). Skateboarding as a medium challenges the physical boundaries of prevention as they place limitations on spatial experience. Parkour as a medium extends beyond that of skateboarding, as the movements performed are more liberating and are not restricted to an inanimate object, the skateboard. “Parkour makes use of the built environment in original and engaging ways that rely on a deeply reciprocal relationship with the urban landscape” (Daskalaki, Stara, & Imas, 2008). Unlike skateboarding, a traceur has a direct link to the elements of public space through their tactile connection to the surface and texture. A skate boarder has a medium buffering oneself from the immediate environment. “Moving can in itself be a sensory delight and a bodily challenge; an escape from normal ways of viewing, travelling through and inhabiting the city” (Stevens, 2007). Stevens understands that the experience of public space in cities is “the risk and the thrill of moving fast and is enhanced by the obstacles that urban space presents”. Stevens identifies the conditions that create thrill and risk to be the tightness of spaces, level changes, crowds of people and the limitations in the participation time of these activities. Daskalaki et al draw from the work of Stevens, Borden and Howell in regards to public space and activity. The reference is to the urban, extreme and subversive engagement with the built environment. Daskalaki et al use parkour to discuss the need for spatial structures in the city, which are architectural and organisational. The interpretation of these spatial structures is not intended to be read as regimented and limiting, but instead to encourage, interaction, possibility, imagination, creativity and chance. Daskalaki et al explore post-modern alienating environments and totalising corporate cultures through the origins and philosophy of parkour, while Stevens suggests that “play is an important but largely neglected aspect of people’s experience of urban society and space. It involves controversial expenditures of time and energy, ‘unfunctional’, economically inefficient, impractical and socially un-redemptive activities, which are often unanticipated by designers, managers and other users. Play reveals the [potential that] public spaces offers”.

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4.1.3. Thresholds, boundaries and paths As a graffiti artist sees a city as a blank canvas for airbrush expression, a traceur views the city’s public spaces as a stage to choreograph movements efficiently and with conquest in sight. The difference between parkour and graffiti is that parkour does not leave its mark on the city. The role that architecture plays in urban design with regards to the movement of parkour is to create seamless connections in the urban landscape. Architecture ultimately determines the rhythm, flow and efficiency of a traceur’s motivations and choreography. Traceurs move in oblivion in and around their surroundings, they focus on the swift and pre-emptory reading of texture, inclination and elevation ahead. Parkour is most typically perceived as an anti-social sport within the wider community. This is because the sport is still emerging and its motivations are not completely understood.

An

overarching motivation of parkour is to create a link between urban sports and social behaviour rather than it being perceived as an anti-social activity. This form of recreation is not intended to damage property, endanger members of the public or themselves as participants. The risk of damage to public or private property, largely impacts the community and its perception of urban recreational activities. Parkour is mutually concerned with this problem by its association. Respect is maintained for the buildings, walls, fences and landscaped feature; because without this framework, parkour cannot exist. Stevens’ research in publically displayed play found that “while some regulations are useful to maintain security and safety, excessive control can result in empty public spaces devoid of life. Overly controlled urban open spaces tend to repel people and eventually become underused”. He suggests that the over regularisation of public space through the use of fences, bollards with chains and locked gates will limit the possibility of generating activity in these spaces. Built elements are emphasised and featured in the vocabulary of parkour, as they provide variety by means of selecting a path through space public. It is suggested that even with the intention of deterrence by method of installing security features, a traceur will use the space regardless of the regulation. As Borden argues for skateboarding, parkour also stimulates activity within public space. The increase in the number of traceurs using public space in cities, is transforming these spatial boundaries. As cities become denser, the increase of building facades, landscaped elements and hard paved surfaces, will inevitably facilitate the growth of parkour. This research draws on the play

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in parkour as a medium for blurring the definition of the corporate structure against recreational public space within a city. Debord (1996) describes ‘unitary urbanism’ as a means of dissolving the public/private and work/leisure stigma through ‘spatial milieu’. Whereby, the physical boundaries that public space dictates, are challenged and re-established to connect activity pockets ‘spatially, temporally and functionally’.

4.2.

Summary

The literature available in the field of architecture and urban design has established that the concept of play in public space has been well researched. The urban condition is that cities are planned to maximise preconceived objectives through designed spaces. The research looks at the deserted spaces within planned city frameworks and establishes mediums that have begun to reinvigorate these ‘non-places’. One such medium of interpretation is play in public space. Unplanned and spontaneous activities that engage loose spaces allow participants and observers to enhance uninhabited spaces through the body’s movement. This research will look at parkour as a means of play, against the possibility of enriching public space by the tactile engagement of a traceur. In terms of play, this aspect in urban design has not been investigated by the discipline of architectural history and theory. The research will aim establish new transversal lines that could emerge from the use of the built elements in public space by looking at different platforms of play. The key themes that have been studied are: the social and physical concept of pedestrian boundaries, and paths and intersections. These examples will inform the process of identifying patterns in the effects that the choreography of parkour has on these themes in relation to public space. This research will use parkour as a medium to attempt to enrich the theory of play and transition.

4.3.

Research Gap / Question

From the above literature review, this research proposes to answer the following question: How does a traceur’s interaction with the transversal lines of public space enrich the discipline of architectural history and theory’s knowledge of how the body interacts with public space? Figure 4, pp17 outlines the condition of play through existing boundaries and thresholds. It considers the users of public space and identifies the research gap of parkour as a medium of play for interpreting the use of public space.

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Figure 4 - Research Gap

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5. 5.1.

Method Approach

This paper will focus on the dynamics of parkour choreography by observing its relationship with the built urban environment. The approach will involve researching a series of patterns present in public space typically used in parkour. These patterns will illustrate the type of environment that facilitates the movement of parkour through public space. The purpose of correlation research is to examine and clarify the relationship between certain performance variables such as physical features, people, activities, and meanings. (Adapted from (Thomas, Nelson, & Silverman, 2005))

Correlation research is a methodology that presents strengths and weaknesses. It can be described to investigate predictive relationships and patterns established among a set of variables. In this case, variables will be used to predict relationships between the physical elements that make up a public space and the choreography of parkour. This research method does not aim “to establish a direct causality between variables” (Groat & Wang, 2002). Therefore research parameters will be defined to avoid unbiased patterns emerging through a variable affecting the cause of another variable. The approach will involve site observations and analysis with a series of detailed descriptions of the built elements used by traceurs. Elements may include, for example, stairs, handrails and walls, which will be described as variables. Relationships between the recorded variables shall be noted through observing and analysing traceurs. After collating this information, any successive patterns that are revealed in the data set will go on to illustrate how parkour creates a relationship between space, body and the built environment. A similar study undertaken and published in Cultural Geographies (Fenton, 2005) that looked at places of everyday life in the streets of Paris will be used as a precedent. Jean-Pierre Le Goff studied the interventions in the city that connect ‘individual mythologies, while uncanny moments reveal the city’s cryptogram’. The study identified that ‘the exploration of space and time [aroused] objective chance and the uncanny both within the surfaces of the city and in participants who [journeyed] in [this urban] landscape’.

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5.2.

Methodology

Correlation research as methodology will provide a structure to observe and document the typical and genuine movements of parkour. This methodology involves structuring the study around observation and quantification. Subjectivities have been minimised by undertaking a literature review to compare findings with the current writings on the relationship between space, body and the built environment. The data collection will concentrate on the actual behaviours and movements of the subjects against the built elements within the study areas. The research will not disclose the identity of the traceurs or comment on their personal characteristics. Observation as a primary data collection method will be neutral in correlating information into a comprehensive unbiased data set. Primary data will be collected in these sessions through note taking and photography for the documentation of silhouettes, not identities. From the data set, the researcher will be able to use the data to establish and recognise emerging patterns from the study areas in the way in which they are used. The researcher will aim to express the findings in a clear and logical manner through graphic and written representation.

5.3.

Documentation

The researcher will undertake two data collection periods. The first data collection phase will involve the documentation of observations made of the traceurs interacting in and around the built elements of each area. The second data collection phase will be to quantify the physical dimensions of the aforementioned structures through an elemental survey of the two sites. The nature of this research is to observe a traceur performing within the surroundings. The researcher will approach the first data collection process as a non-participant observer. As a nonparticipant, physical presence will be maintained while attempting to be unobtrusive. This method will best ensure the most genuine behaviour will be observed and recorded. In order to comply with the ethical principals of informed consent, the data that will be recorded in this study will not disclose the identity of the traceurs. The data will concentrate only on the actual behaviours and movements of the subjects, against the nature of the built elements within public space. The research will not make comment on their personal characteristics. Graphics produced to represent the findings in this research will show the bodily movement and form but not the identities of the traceurs’.

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The second data collection process will record the dimensions for each study area and will be used to document and produce two 3-dimensional models. These models will illustrate the built elements of each space in their most fundamental and structured form. They will be used to identify relationships in the choreography performed in parkour. Further analysis of the information will be conducted to allow for a clear evaluation process to emerge. Correlation as a research method will allow the data to be gathered within a real world context. The data will be used to predict and establish patterns within the research framework set by the researcher. Figure 5 illustrates the progression of the research strategy as a methodology. The strategy is initiated by addressing the paradigm or assumption by establishing a research gap in the literature and questioning the found topic. The methodology has been established based on the precedents that exist in the field of research, which aim to retrieve data through the technique of observation. The data collected and qualified through thematic analysis will be presented in figures, tables and graphs.

Figure 5 - Methodology, Source: Author, adapted from (O'Leary Z. , 2004)

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6.

Findings

The two sites chosen for observation are located in the Civic Precinct of Newcastle, New South Wales. The location is shown in Figure 6, pp22. Area 1 is directly adjacent to the Southeast corner of Wheeler Place in the semi-enclosed space of the Fred Ash Building. This is area is shown in Figure 7, pp22. Area 2 is located in the Southwest corner of Civic Park, parallel to Laman Street shown in Figure 8, pp22. A site survey of the context within each of the proposed study areas was completed. The results were quantified, measured and modelled to generate two 3-dimensional models for analysis. Three parkour training sessions were then observed in these spaces, where the current transversal lines were observed and established as a measurable framework. The elements that facilitate pedestrian transition in the two study areas are; level change via stairs and or ramps; vertical texture on walls of buildings; divisions in space through retaining walls, handrails and bollards, and horizontal texture of pavement or turf. The above criteria were found to have a direct relationship to each other through both vertical and horizontal planes. These elements create a framework for the transitional space. It is the traceurs who actively participate within this structure and create moments of activity. By testing sequences of parkour movements (Table 5, pp47) against the built elements in the two experimental areas, the research will examine the relationship between the physical space and the choreography to observe the role of the body in space. The researcher has established parkour as a medium of play by looking at precedents of play that also occur within public space through a review of the relevant literature in the field. The review found that the most relevant precedent in thrill seeking and play within public space is skateboarding. The main reasons attracting traceurs to parkour are the sensations of vertigo, thrill seeking and insertion of their bodies into the space, creating junctions between elements of the built environment. Both of the following two studies will analyse the traceur’s movements as they create junctions between the built elements. The researcher will also consider the spectator as a passive participant and voyeur who is drawn to the activity. The chance for random encounters between strangers when observing publically displayed “play” is high. “Triangulation is [the] process by which some external stimulus provides a linkage between people and prompts strangers to talk to each other” (Whyte, 1988). Parkour can be seen as an external stimulus. The conditions that assist the occurrence of triangulation will be observed in the following two studies. 21


Figure 6 – Study area location diagram, Source: Google Earth

Figure 7 – Study Area 1 - Wheeler Place

Figure 8 – Study Area 2 - Civic Park

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6.1.

Area 1 – Wheeler Place

The first study area was selected for analysis based on its use for parkour. This space was also selected for its semi-enclosure and adjacency to Wheeler Place. Alexander et al state “the life of a public square forms naturally around its edge [;] if the edge fails, then the space never becomes lively” (1977, p. 600). Wheeler Place is a civic square that primarily functions as a pedestrian thoroughfare. Area 1 is located on the pedestrian network linked to Wheeler Place. A pedestrian is directed through the southern end of the Fred Ash Building. The opportunity to linger and contemplate within this space is currently lacking, as “goal-oriented activity” exists outside the parameters of Wheeler Place. Therefore the square is a pedestrian transitionary thoroughfare, rather than a node and is deficient of internalised activity. For a square to be successful according to Alexander et al it must comprise small pockets of activity adjacent to its paths and entrances. Study Area 1 has evolved into a non-place primarily for transition into Wheeler Place. Parkour creates a dualism in this space, as it is not only an entrance, but also an activity space while ever traceurs practice there. The space provides traceurs with an opportunity to indulge in unplanned or risky behaviour, to linger and to wander. Study Area 1 contains three pedestrian routes that run into Wheeler Place, comprising ramps and stairs, set over three level changes. Study Area 1 prescribes one of the three transversal lines of spatial negotiation. Traversing built elements through parkour verses walking, introduces an increased level of vertigo, significantly increasing the rick of injury while exploring and understanding the space. The condition of vertigo introduces playful engagement into public space. The movements that embody the condition of vertigo in parkour will be measured in this section to understand the moments of interception. The perspective and effects on an observer within the space of Wheeler Place will also be considered and analysed.

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Figure 9 – Section - existing transversal lines in Study Area 1

Figure 10 – Plan – Junctions of transversal lines, Study Area 1

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6.1.1.

Junctions – Study Area 1

The existing pedestrian thresholds of Study Area 1 are within three transversal lines. There is also one vehicular transversal line which has no pedestrian access. In total, the space comprises four parallel axes which include: 1. Level transitions over stairs and ramps, 2. Horizontal and vertical textures of bluestone paving and facings, 3. Divisions in space by retaining walls of varying widths. For the purpose of this research, the transversal lines were indentified as 1-4 shown in Figure 9 and Figure 10, pp24. Walls, platforms, stairs and void spaces divide transversal lines 1-4. Table 1 is a summary of the data collected and measured from the built elements in Study Area 1. Table 1 - Built elements of transversal lines in Study Area 1 (see Figure 14, PG28)

Area

Transversal Line 1

Built elements 1A. Bluestone – pavers 1B. 5 stairs – 725mm height gain 1C. 1310mm high divisional wall

Transversal Line 1 & 2

1D. 1400mm wide bluestone paved platform 1E. 3 stairs – 3200mm wide. 300mm height gain 2A. Ramp 1 - 6250 x 1390mm – 300mm height gain

Transversal Line 2

2B. Paved bluestone platform 3800 x 1390mm 2C. Ramp 2 - 6300 x 1390mm – 425mm height gain 2D. 1800mm high divisional wall

Transversal Line 2 & 3

2E. Paved bluestone platform 6200 x 1900mm 2F. 4 stairs – 3200mm wide. 600mm height gain 2G. Paved bluestone platform 6300 x 1900mm

Transversal Line 3

Transversal Line 3 & 4

Transversal Line 4

3A. 6 stairs – 900mm height gain 3B. Bluestone – pavers 3C. 900mm high divisional wall 3D. Paved bluestone platform 4A. Concrete vehicle ramp 1:10 gradient (significant drop of over 3000mm)

25


Figure 11 – Junction at transversal line 1 & 2, Study Area 1

Figure 12 – Junction at transversal line 2 & 3, Study Area 1

Figure 13 – Junction at transversal line 3 & 4, Study Area 1

26


The results in Table 1 have outlined the elements that comprise the space of Study Area 1. This accentuates an axis that starts at point 1A and finishes at point 4A as shown in Figure 15, pp28. It is along this trajectory where the choreography of the performed parkour has the most fluidity. This becomes the physical trajectory of the body. Through the diversity between the built elements within Study Area 1, the movements that are listed in Table 1 combine to stimulate a sequence in the “shifting flow of play”. Stevens states that behavioural play “[thrives] in areas where there are choices of different types of path”. The existing transversal lines are planned only for transition and not for lingering or contemplation. However, the three transversal lines are excessive when considering the pedestrian flow into Wheeler Place. It is the excessive condition that is appealing to traceurs. “The excess space can be used luxuriously for play”. “Not all play is about comfort and acceptance of planned conditions” (Stevens, 2007). The trajectories that are anticipated in public space and its composition are challenged by traceurs finding the “edges”, which are typically inaccessible to pedestrians. Franck et al (2007) describe these spaces as dead zones and are receptive to informal activities. Figure 14, pp28 illustrates the five junctions at 1C, 1D, 2D, 3D & 4A, where the built elements are inaccessible to the average pedestrian; yet instigate the participation of parkour choreography. The data observed and collected in Table 1, pp25, allows the body to be inserted into these spaces to interact with these inaccessible elements: • 1C - 1310mm high divisional wall • 1D - 1400mm wide bluestone paved platform • 2D - 1800mm high divisional wall • 3D - Paved bluestone platform • 4A - Concrete car ramp 1:10 gradient (significant drop of over 3000mm) The verticality of these elements accentuates the moments in which regular pedestrian activity cannot participate in this space. Auge states that a space is a frequented place and an intersection of moving bodies (Auge, 2006). The researcher’s observations in Study Area 1 have established the junctions that are traversed in the fluid movements of parkour.

27


Figure 14 – Junction elements of Study Area 1

Figure 15 – 3-dimensional diagram of transversal line 5 - Study Area 1

1

Figure 16 - Saut de detente (gap jump) over transversal line 4, Source: Coconut Graphics

1

Appendix A - Table 5

28


Table 2 - Movements at junctions in transversal lines - Study Area 1

French Terminology

English Terminology

1&2

2&3

3&4

Franchissement

Underbar

Lâché

Lache, swing

Passe muraille

Pop vault, wall hop, Wall pass,  wall run

Passement

Vault, Pass

Demi tour

Turn vault, Turn Down

Passement

Speed vault

Passement

Lazy vault

Saut de chat

Monkey vault / kong vault

Planche

Muscle-up or climb-up

Saut de bras

Arm jump, cat leap

Saut de détente

Gap jump, running jump

Saut de precision

Precision

Saut de mur

Wall Jump, Tic-Tac or Tac Vault

Atterrissage

Landing

Roulade

Roll

Saut de fond

Drop

Graph 1 - Vertical movement in Study Area 1

29


The observations at the junctions recorded in Table 2, pp29, showed that the transition between transversal lines three and four could have the strongest representation of movements performed over the built elements in this zone. The movements highlighted in grey are the passive movements that construct and meld the dynamic movements into one fluid, free flowing physical trajectory. Figure 16, pp28 captures a traceur performing a gap jump across transversal line 4. Each movement performed was typically coupled with another movement such as a landing and/or roll to achieve a smooth transition in the choreography. From the observations recorded, the point of difference between parkour and regular pedestrian movement through this space was its verticality. From the results plotted in Graph 1, pp29 the research has found that the junction of transversal lines 3 and 4 facilitates 80% of parkour choreography. The junction between transversal lines 1 & 2 and respectively, 2 & 3, promote less than 50% vertical movement. Regardless of the level of occurrence in transitionary vertical movement, without the insertion of these acrobatics, Study Area 1 would essentially be without its vertical axis. The movement across these intersections tests the threshold of the space between what is transitionary and stationary. Parkour implements and enriches this space by inserting the body within the context, which enables it to be read with a new complexity. Quentin Stevens (2007) in Loose Space talks about the negotiation of thresholds within places of movement. Study Area 1 comprises three recognised thresholds, however the architecture at the junctions of these trajectories creates new points of interest where a traceur might engage. It is in this moment that the traceur can adjust his or her choreography against the present condition. The most relevant threshold dissects transversal lines 3 and 4, where there is a broader scale space to perform in (approximately 6m wide). The space itself is diverse, which parkour enhances through its use in gradients of perception and exposure. Parkour appropriates the space through the pursuit of movement and releases it of its predetermined program.

30


6.1.2.

Observation and Triangulation – Study Area 1

The primary observation point into Study Area 1 is from Wheeler Place. Wheeler Place is approximately 40 metres wide by 50 metres long. Study Area 1 can be viewed from any vantage point within Wheeler Place’s area of 2000m2. Figure 17, pp32, illustrates an example of an optimum observation point for a member of the public. Figure 18, pp32, partly illustrates the pedestrian space for moving through Wheeler Place, which is shown in yellow. The researcher has noted that there is a large area for pedestrian movement. Figure 19, pp33 combines the two conditions and illustrates their collision. At this point of intersection an observer of Study Area 1 in Wheeler Place becomes quite vulnerable, as there is no place to find security while pedestrians move through the transitionary space. There is no boundary where the observer can retreat to look towards the activity without feeling compelled to interact or participate. Triangulation5 in this study is not effective for the public’s engagement with the activity and space. The condition of an edge does not generally exist, so people cannot draw back, close to a boundary to avoid collisions with others. As Alexander et al (1977) suggests, members of the public will not linger if the space is not controlled through the selection of secluded pockets, open space and egress. The collision of the pedestrian and the observer creates a disjointed moment. From the analysis, the researcher has concluded that the condition of triangulation and public observation can only exist in acute areas with the large space of Wheeler Place. Figure 20, pp33, illustrates the portion of public space where pedestrians will not obstruct an observer, while maintaining a comfortable non-participant, viewing range of the traceurs. Note that neither of the spaces are directly located in Wheeler Place. Study Area 1 primarily provides an abundance of built elements for the insertion of the body in vertical space. The relationship between the participant and the bystander is stressed, as Study Area 1 is framed by a large public space, Wheeler Place, does not facilitate non-participant observation. Therefore triangulation is not effective in this space, as an observer cannot control their relative level of exposure.

31


Figure 17 - Triangulation example in Study Area 1

Figure 18 - Movement through Wheeler Place

32


Figure 19 - Multiple triangulations, Study Area 1

Figure 20 - Comfortable non-participant observation points

33


6.2.

Area 2 – Civic Park

The second study area is located in the southwest corner of Civic Park. The transversal line that completes the journey to this end of the park is initiated at the memorial fountain and traverses west, 42.5 metres, towards a small sandstone maintenance building. Unlike the space observed and measured in Study Area 1, the distance in between its clusters of built elements separates the study area into two clusters of activity. As a result, the space isolates its intersecting axes into collective activities. This study area focuses on the effects of observing parkour as a non-participant. The distance between the activity nodes, accentuates the preparation of the traceur’s movements. The observations of Study Area 2 will look at the nature of movement and the boundary conditions that control the occurrence of parkour.

2

Figure 21 - Passe Muraille (wall pass) in Civic Park

2

Appendix A - Table 5

34


Figure 22 – Section - existing transversal lines in Study Area 2

Figure 23 – Plan - existing transversal lines in Study Area 2

35


6.2.1.

Junctions - Study Area 2

The existing pedestrian transversal lines of Study Area 2 form the boundary of the pedestrian walkway between the memorial fountain and the sandstone maintenance shed, which is intersected by two staired transversal lines. Built elements which comprise this study area are: 1. One primary and one secondary concrete linkage paths 2. Two sets of stairs, one concrete, one paved 3. One single storey sandstone building The junctions of Study Area 2 have been illustrated in Figure 24, pp37. The intention of this diagram is to show not only the intersecting transversal lines, but to also demonstrate the distance between the activity nodes. Through this diagram it becomes clear that the proximity of built elements is further spread out when compared to Study Area 1. However, to maintain the continuity of the research, the same method of data collection will be carried out in Study Area 2. Table 3 is a collation of the data collected and measured from the built elements of Study Area 2, while Figure 25, pp37 illustrates the occurrences of the built elements. Table 3 - Built elements along the transversal lines in Study Area 2 (see Figure 25, pp37)

Area

Transversal Line 1

Transversal Line 2

Built elements 1A. 2400mm high sandstone wall of building. 140mm roof slab 1B. 3 concrete stairs – 420mm height gain 2A. Paved landing with handrail between 4A and 4B 2B. Paved landing with handrail between 4A and 4B 3A. Sandstone retaining wall. Height -

Transversal Line 3

3B. 7 concrete stairs – 1600mm height gain 3C. 21 concrete stairs – 3000mm height gain to Laman Street 4A. 9 paved stairs with dividing handrail – 1600mm height gain

Transversal Line 4

4B.12 paved stairs with dividing handrail – 1800mm height gain 4C. Paved landing with handrail between 4B and Laman Street

36


Figure 24 – Junctions in Study Area 2

Figure 25 – Junction elements of Study Area 2

37


Table 4 – Transversal lines observed in Study Area 2

French Terminology

English Terminology

1/3

1/4

2/3

2/4

Franchissement

Underbar

Lâché

Lache, swing

Passe muraille

Pop vault, wall hop, Wall pass, wall  run

Passement

Vault, Pass

Demi tour

Turn vault, Turn Down

Passement

Speed vault

Passement

Lazy vault

Saut de chat

Monkey vault / kong vault

Planche

Muscle-up or climb-up

Saut de bras

Arm jump, cat leap

Saut de détente

Gap jump, running jump

Saut de précision

Precision

Saut de mur

Wall Jump, Tic-Tac or Tac Vault

Atterrissage

Landing

Roulade

Roll

Saut de fond

Drop

Graph 2 - Vertical movement in Study Area 2

38


The differences observed between Study Area 1 and Study Area 2 are that the traceurs integrate their movements with the existing transversal lines of Civic Park in Study Area 2, rather than dissecting them perpendicular to the prescribed paths as they do in Study Area 1. The movements of parkour in Study Area 2 enrich and add complexity to the already existing paths of transit. The two junctions that stood out during observations were at the crossing of transversal lines 1/3 and 2/4 as shown in Graph 2, pp38.

From the analysis, it is found that 73-80% of parkour

movements can be performed in at these two junctions. A difference that was observed was that at junction 1-3, the façade of the maintenance shed was used to aid a series of movements. Figure 27, pp42, illustrates the two typical sequences observed. The choreography typically comprised a ‘wall jump’, through to a ‘climb up’ onto the roof and completing the series with a ‘precision’ jump from the roof down to a retaining wall. Or alternatively, the traceur would perform a ‘precision’ jump from a retaining wall and then catch the edge of the roof and ‘traverse’ hand over hand to the end of the façade and move into a ‘climb up’ and complete the sequence with a ‘precision’ jump back down to the retaining wall. At this point the traceur weaves new contours and a new sequence of meaning into the junction. This series of movements in effect creates an accentuated pause at 1-3, which can then integrate back into the trajectory of axis 1,2 or 3. Franck describes how skateboarding as a means of play, can be exploratory and transgressive in its use of mundane urban features. In the case of Study Area 2, these features include pathways, stairs, retaining walls and a single storey building. The interpretation of the space becomes the user’s understanding of how the physical environment can be combined with the body, image, thought and action to produce new spatial experiences (Borden, 2001).

39


6.2.2.

Observation and Triangulation – Study Area 2

The western edge of Study Area 2 is secluded in its proximity to the sandstone maintenance shed. The seclusion of the building is established along transversal line 1, which becomes a boundary and in this case, an edge. The nature of this area allows spectators to look on to the activity at junctions 1/3 and 1/4, without participating see Figure 28, PG41. The civic composition of the park sets clear boundaries along the memorial fountain and the perpendicular retaining wall, which subsequently establishes a physical boundary to the observation and participation area. This directs public attention to the two termination points of the axis at intersection points 1/3 and 1/4. The position from which these points of interest can be viewed is of relative passivity. The comfortable distance between the observer and the point of interest enhances the triangulation of this space. The texture of the surface on which the observer stands is a slightly lowered grassed area. It is positioned approximately 600mm lower than the intersecting transversal lines. This may contribute to the control the observers have on their own exposure. Through the spatial analysis of Study Area 2, this research has realised that the movement of parkour contributes to the concept of play and to the looseness of the space, which is somewhat contradictory to the intended civic function of the space. Triangulation is effective in Study Area 2 as the individual spectator can control their level of exposure through their position in the park. The space for observing does not intersect a major pedestrian thoroughfare like it does in Study Area 1.

40


3

Figure 26 – Passement on stairs at intersection 1/4

Figure 27 - Sequences at Intersection 1/3

Figure 28 - Triangulation of Study Area 2

3

Appendix A – Table 5

41


7.

Conclusion

The study of parkour and its quantification through a detailed analysis of urban textures and environments provides a unique lens for visualising the relationship between architecture and the body and its relationship to urban experience. An analysis of these connections provides a new framework for integrating the movement of the body into studies of architecture. This is an area that has been neglected in architectural theory and history. Having set up a framework for understanding parkour and its relationship to architecture, this paper set up methodology to analyse and record the use of public space by focusing on the movement of the body, through the choreography of parkour. The literature review found that the field of architecture and urban design was focused on the types of movement within urban public space and, more specifically, on ideas relating to “play� within the city. As a type of play, parkour was identified as an innovative activity that could be used to investigate the discursive potential of urban public space through the movement and choreography of its inhabitants. The patterns that emerged from analysing two study areas within Newcastle allowed the research to focus on the conditions that facilitate play. The research found that parkour was a medium of play that tested boundaries, thresholds and paths through the verticality of way finding in public space. By establishing a detailed methodological system, the research measured and quantified the built elements of two study areas through a 3-dimensional analysis and established a framework for reinterpreting the public space and its associated functions. The research mapped and recorded the physicality and texture of the built elements in order to provide a platform for observation and interpretation. The results which came from the observation period, allowed the researcher to establish the moments in which the traceurs engaged with the transversal lines within the two spaces. Through visual analysis of the results, the research has found that parkour engages in a vertical axis which normal pedestrian activity cannot access. The dissection of the existing transversal lines through moments of parkour choreography, were found to create interest and frequency through the intersection of moving bodies. The research has established that parkour is a way in which architecture can be interpreted. The concepts of engagement, reciprocity and inhabitation have been found to have a dialectical relationship between space, the body and the built environment. As a result, parkour provides a radical framework for reconceptualising the body and its relationship to urban spaces. This field of 42


research is still evolving and can be applied to a wide range of areas within the built environment that are yet to be considered. However, through its analysis in these two study areas, the research extends the traditional phenomenological readings of the body and texture into the threedimensional realm of movement and, in this way, allows for a fluid and evolving understanding of the contemporary flaneur.

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8.

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9.

Appendix A – Parkour Terminology

Table 5: Parkour terminology, adapted from Source: http://www.americanparkour.com/content accessed 08/05/09

Synonym French

Description English

Landing

Landing is a critical part of parkour, it pertains to any time [one] comes down from an object or higher place. "Landing" as a verb specifically refers to the way that shock and impact are absorbed to try to minimize strain on joints such as the knees and ankles. Some landings will include a roll, but sometimes this is not necessary, and a landing can just be a compression of the knees, if necessary one can slap the ground, although for most people this will put them in a position to have too much pressure put on the lower back

"The Lady of the Lake "

This structure, outside of Lisses, France, was originally intended for climbing, but was closed after two climber deaths. It has been used extensively in parkour training by the local traceurs, David Belle included. It is seen as a pilgrimage for the parkour movement.

Franchissement

Underbar

An underbar is generally described as the passing between two objects, in which one jumps, passes through the obstacles, and lands on the other side. The most common situations to use an underbar include through rails, trees, or scaffolding

Lâché

Lache, swing

To swing from one object to another, such as from a high tree branch to a lower branch, or to use an object to swing between two points.

Pop vault, wall hop, Wall pass, wall run

A wall run is a way to ascend a wall or tall object by using one or more steps to propel [one’s] body upward, and then [one’s] hands to get on top of or clear the obstacle. If only one step is necessary it is called a "Pop Vault"

Dyno

This movement comes from climbing terminology, and encompasses leaping from a position similar to an arm jump, then grabbing an obstacle usually higher than the initial starting place, often used for an overhang. This movement is used when a simpler movement is not possible.

Vault, Pass

To move over an object with [one's] hand(s) on an object to ease the movement.

Turn vault, Turn Down

A turn vault is less of a vault, and more of a movement used to drop from a higher place than is practical to jump straight down from. In a turn vault, [one] vaults over the wall or railing, leaving [one’s] hands on top of the object, swinging around 180 degrees, then planting one’s feet against the object. From here [one] can drop to the ground

Speed vault

The speed vault is one of the most efficient movements for clearing an obstacle between about waist and chest height. It is a vault where both legs go to one side, and a single hand is placed on the object. This hand does not do much to support or guide, as most of the vault comes in the form of a powerful jump over the object, the hand is more for stability, as the body is sideways instead of upright.

Atterrissage

Dame Du Lac

Passe muraille

Passement

Demi tour

Passement

47


Lazy vault

A lazy vault is when [one] approaches an obstacle from an angle, lifting [one’s] inside (closer to the object) foot first, placing [one’s] inside hand on the object. As [one] passes over the object, [one] is in a fairly reclined position. For a wider object it may be necessary to "pass" to [one’s] outside hand on the object for extra push

Monkey vault / kong vault

The monkey vault is a way to pass over an object where both hands are placed on the object and it is approached straight on. It then appears as though one’s feet pass between [one’s] hands over the object, although they do not, they pass "between" where [one’s] hands would have been if one left them on the object, however [one] removes [one’s] hands as [one’s] body is passing over the object. The Kong vault is meant to describe a Monkey vault where [one’s] feet leave the ground well before [one’s] hands even reach the object, however in practice all Monkey vaults should be done this way to maintain momentum.

Dash vault

A dash vault involves running at a wall or rail between waist and chest height and jumping legs first over the obstacle, planting [one’s] hands at the last second to push off. This vault is useful for situations where [one] needs extra distance on the other side of the object, and is useful for a precise landing as [one] can see [one’s] feet.

Reverse vault

A reverse vault is one where [one’s] body travels to the outside of [one’s] planted hand on the object, and [one] therefore rotates 180 degrees on takeoff and 180 degrees after clearing the object. The reverse vault can be useful when [one] has to approach a rail from an angle where a normal two-handed vault may not be smooth, or after exiting a previous vault where the reverse vault can help more efficiently preserve momentum over the next obstacle.

Muscle-up or climb-up

To move from a hanging position (wall, rail, branch, arm jump, etc) into a position where [one’s] upper body is above the obstacle, supported by the arms. This then allows for [one] to climb up onto the obstacle and continue moving.

Roll

Rolling is done after a landing to minimise impact on the joints and to redirect momentum. Rolls can also be used for other purposes, for instance in diving through a railing where it is not possible to land back on [one’s] feet, or to get across an area such as a high table where rolling is a suitable choice.

Saut de bras

Arm jump, cat leap

A cat leap is a jump to vertical or near vertical object where [one’s] feet absorb the impact before one’s hands catch the top. Cat leaps are often used to land on walls across a gap, as it is not possible to land standing on the wall, nor is it practical to catch all of [one’s] weight with [one’s] hands, so [one] first absorbs the momentum with [one’s] feet, then grasp the top of the wall with [one’s] hands.

Saut de fond

Drop

A jump down from something or drop.

Saut de chat

Planche

Roulade

48


Saut de détente

Saut de précision

Saut de mur

Gap jump, running jump

A vault in which the top half of [one’s] body goes over the object, grasping something on the other side, where the rest of [one’s] body comes over in a motion similar to a handspring. A good vault for a high object where it is easier to get [one’s] top half over and then have a handhold to slow [one’s] descent.

Precision

Precision Jump - Standing on a fixed spot, (a bar, a wall etc.) and jumping to and landing precisely on another fixed spot. This is while maintaining [one’s] balance and not letting [one’s] momentum carry one past or over the landing spot

Wall Jump, Tic-Tac or Tac Vault

A tic-tac involves using an obstacle to "gain position" on another obstacle. For instance if [one] wants to jump over a wall that is too high, but there is a bench [one] can jump to first, then [one] could "Tic-Tac" off the bench to clear the wall. A Tic-Tac can also be done off a wall to change direction or to clear an object that couldn't be cleared from the ground. This technique is commonly used to overcome a low object or gap, to vault a higher object, or leading into a cat leap.

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10.

Endnotes 

1

Excerpt adapted from Playing with fear: parkour and the mobility of emotion (Saville, 2008).

2

Traceur - Parkour practitioners are referred to as traceurs or traceuses

3

Parkour – ‘A way for our bodies to face and move in and around obstacles in our environment,

whether that be manmade structures or the natural environment. It's about tackling fears because obstacles don't always appear as we imagine, and it's also about attaining self-knowledge. So you can see then that parkour is in the spirit of the martial arts, but it's not a martial art’. David Belle (article by Dr. Craig Reid, kungfumagazine.com) 4

Flaneur – ‘A constant seeker of impressions and stimuli. He does so in a spirit of Idle curiosity,

without object of learning anything or reaching understanding. He makes a virtue out of idleness and values the sense above reason’. (Stevens, 2007) 5

Triangulation – ‘The result of when people are watching play from the boundary of public space;

they feel happy and relaxed there, and sometimes end up engaging with other strangers in the audience’. (Whyte, 1988)

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Transversal lines meagan kerr