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Playground@Landscape

YOUR FORUM FOR PLAY, SPORTS UND LEISURE AREAS

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A Parkour Course

by Christine Wolf, wbp Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH (wpb landscape architects)

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Parkour is a relatively new trend sport in Germany with runners, who move freely in urban spaces. Up until now, there have been very few places available in Germany for static training. Bochum has had a parkour course since 2011. The parkour area is situated in a district of Bochum which was originally set up as an area for university accommodation. It consists of a car-free (as far as possible) interior space and 5 to 7-storey buildings, which form a group around green inner courtyards. Migrants represent a very high portion of the residents in the district (over 60 different nationalities), and the majority of flats are council flats. The district has a backlog of modernisation and renovation work needing to be done and suffers major social problems. The numerous children of the residents use the free space intensively for playing and recreation. The seats, paths and fitted elements such as fountains and playgrounds are very old and sometimes no longer in working order.

In light of this, in 2007, through Inwis and wbp landscape architects, both based in Bochum, an urban development study was compiled, which included the requests of residents in respect of the free spaces in the district. Based on this study, in 2009, a strategic plan (wbp Landschaftsarchitekten) was carried out for the northern planning area (fountain square with Hustadt Gate and parkour area). The initial measures have been being implemented since 2010: In 2010/12, the fountain square was/is being realised in two construction stages, in 2011 the parkour course was realised and in 2012 the playground will be realised.

Concept

The fountain square is the northern square in the district and is distinguished by high usage, particularly as many children play there. In particular, football games often lead to fights. Thus, it was important in the re-planning of the fountain square to offer children and teenagers alternatives. At the Hustadt Gate, next to a spacious square area, a playground for children aged between 4 and 12 is to be created. The neighbouring brownfield site is to be converted into a sports field and recreation area for older children and teenagers.
The idea of setting up a parkour course was developed in the auspices of a participation process (supported by the Hustadt city redevelopment office) by the teenagers of the HuTown Association as part of a workshop process. The company wbp Landschaftsarchitekten (landscape architects) came up with the idea and, with the help of the economic stimulus package II, funded by the Federal Government, the State and the city of Bochum implemented it in 2011.
The plot of land consists of three terraced, set-up parking areas which haven’t been used for decades, between the residential area and the neighbouring housing development. The top of the three areas had to be rebuilt as a car park to compensate – for the good of children’s play at the Hustadt Gate – for the car parks being discontinued. The topography of the area with the different levels and the supporting wall gives rise to an exciting area.
In order to make suitable training elements for parkour available to teenagers, equipment and processes were selected with Pablo Giese, the founder of the network Parkour-im-Pott, a professional parkour runner and a manufacturer of this equipment (company: X-Move).

Pro Pablo Giese has been practising with young people from Hustadt since Easter, where the facilities are put into practice, at their request. The training initially takes place in the sports hall, in order to introduce participants slowly to parkour. “No beginner should go straight onto the concrete units. Serious injuries are possible if the person doesn’t have any previous knowledge. This is also a reason why we train without protective clothing. The teenagers should always be aware of their own limits,” says Pablo Giese. He is certain that the parkour equipment will be a success. On the Internet you hear a lot about all the tension in the Traceur scene, because there aren’t many of these facilities across the country.

The parkour equipment is set up like an island on the upper level in such a way that fluent movement between the individual items of equipment is possible. The stations consist of concrete and steel elements on which, for instance, jump, clambering and climbing techniques with different levels of difficulty can be practised. Thus, for example, Station I – the so-called Preci Block – is made up of flat, block-step-like elements, between which the gaps become greater and greater for the safer training of jumping and landing techniques of gaps from 1.20 to 3.0 metres. The robustness of the facilities and equipment was important for the conception. The two levels are connected to each other by a ramp. The covering was built due to existing contaminated sites made from concrete, which, however, has very good characteristics for training (grip and rigidity). In order to break up the surface, the equipment was placed in may-green islands made from an impact-absorbing surface.

In the meantime the course has become “firmly established” in the parkour scene. However, this isn’t just used by teenagers but also increasingly by children who are encouraged to exercise by the experienced parkour runners – in an era where there is a clear lack of exercise amongst children and teenagers; thus an important contribution towards the fun involved in sporting activities. Furthermore, it’s not the nationalities that matter, but just the abilities and skills of the teenagers. “Planning and design should pay particular attention to the communication and interaction of the play area users among themselves and should promote intercultural dialogue,” describes Andrea Baltussen from the Green Spaces and Environmental Office of the city of Bochum.
The parkour course will be presented on 24.6.2012 (2.00 – 4.00 pm) as part of the architecture day at AKNW 2012 event (Chamber of Architects for North Rhine-Westphalia) and proper use of the course will be demonstrated by Pablo Giese and his team.

 

Purchaser: City of Bochum, Green Spaces and Environmental Office represented by Andrea Baltussen
Planning: wbp Landschaftsarchitekten (landscape architects), Bochum / Rebekka Junge and Christine Wolf
Employees: Planning: Kathrin Hitschfeld
Tendering and Construction Management: Christian Hagemann
Parkour processes, equipment: Pablo Giese and the company X-Move
Construction company: Helm, Witten
 

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