Travel Magazine

Urban Playground

By Travelersmind
On Friday, I had the opportunity to see a few short movies at the Architecture & Design Film Festival that visited Chicago. My friend and I saw a pack of four films all relating in some way to architecture and how it affects the environment around us, how it can help make the world better. While all of them were very interesting, it was the final film that really fascinated me. It was called "My Playground," and it followed the lives of Team JiYo, the Danish Parkour and freerunning team.
If you do not know what Parkour is, you are not alone. Many people are unfamiliar with it, but it is a worldwide phenomenon. The best way to describe it is getting from one place to another by moving around obstacles in an efficient way. Wikipedia defines it as:
a non-competitive, physical discipline of French origin in which participants run along a route, attempting to negotiate obstacles in the most efficient way possible, using only their bodies. Skills such as jumping, climbing, vaulting, rolling, swinging and wall scaling are employed. Parkour can be practiced anywhere, but areas dense with obstacles are preferable and it is most commonly practiced in urban areas.
 Basically, it is a bunch of adults running around on the streets using anything and everything as their own personal playground.
The movie explores how the Parkour athletes interact with urban spaces and buildings in Copenhagen and around the world, and how their lifestyle is transforming the way architects and city officials see cities. Award winning Danish architect Bjarke Ingels was featured for his innovative structures, mainly The Mountain, which is a frequented place for team JiYo. In the film he was in the middle of constructing 8House, which is a residential complex that features a winding ramp connecting all levels. The concept was chosen so that a person, ideally, could ride a bike all the way up the building. Ingels tries to find a balance between playful and practical in all his structures, which is perfect for Parkour.
I found the whole thing pretty eye opening, mostly because these people look at the world in such a different way. While you and I see a basic city street, Parkour athletes see it as a playground, an obstacle course, an adventure. In all honesty, I think we can all learn from their life, even if we cannot do back flips off staircases or 360s from railings.
As someone from the film said, they get to where they are going just like everyone else, the path is just a little different.
If you want to see a teaser from the film, check it out below:
MTN - MY PLAYGROUND ON THE MOUNTAIN from BIG on Vimeo.

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