This week on with ON PARKOUR, Freedom in Motion’s parkour podcast Jacob Blake and Jimmy Davidson talk about hostile architecture designed to restrict movement and in some cases, threat inflict serious injury to prevent access. In this episode, we also talk about what local governments can do to foster play and positive space in contrast to simply deploying hostile architecture.
The foundation of anti-parkour design is Unpleasant design and hostile urban architecture. To get a sense of what unpleasant design in, you should look no further than your average public bench or bus stop. Notice the odd slopes and inconveniently placed armrests designed to allow the user to sit for short periods of time, and to prevent any other unwanted actions like laying down on the bench or using it for other activities like Skateboarding.
Other examples of unpleasant design are unflattering lighting such as pink over headlights to amplify blemishes to help prevent young people from gathering in certain locations. Blue light has also been used to prevent drug users from being able to spot their arm veins to deter needle use is targeted areas.
Taking uncomfortable design up a notch, you begin to move into hostile urban architecture or HUA for short. HUA is designed to make certain actions in a space nearly impossible, if not extremely uncomfortable. Common examples of this are bird spikes designed to prevent birds from nesting, or anti-homeless spikes designed to prevent people from loitering or sleeping in certain areas.
Inquiry on anti-homeless furnitures in Paris. Devices placed in front of banks and representative places physically prevent homeless to stay and begg. Those who resist can be called the “fakirs” of public places. Realised by Stéphane Argillet and Gilles Paté, Production Canal Marches 2003 duration : 6′. More on site : gilfakir.com
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in learning more about Uncomfortable/Unpleasant design and hostile urban architecture, we strongly recommend that you check out the book, Unpleasant Design, published by G.L.O.R.I.A. You can click here to check it out on Amazon.
Anti parkour design is hostile urban architecture taken to the extreme. These are devices and deterrents designed to post a serious visual threat, which if left ignored would inflict serious damage on an offending individual.
If you’re following along the podcast, here you will be able to see what Jacob is reacting to on-air plus a few more examples that we didn’t include in this episode.
Storror, a popular parkour team from around the United Kingdome, incorporating some anti-parkour design into a dangerous yet creative parkour movement near their hometown. See the video for yourself, above.
Private landowners and city government can be quick to install anti-theft and anti-climbing apparatuses. However, there is a severe lack of athletic play space for teens and adults that are on public land that is free to enter and use. Obviously, there are a number of gyms and private businesses that help fill this void, but the lack of free public options is a problem.
If you’re a parkour athlete or even a general advocate for play in public space then we invite you to seek out elements of unpleasant design, and to use it for unintended purposes (provided it doesn’t cause any harm, of course). Awaken your inner Farker! If you get any pics or videos of yourself doing any Farker play, tag us on Instagram at @Freedom_In_Motion. We would love to see it!
Shout out to 99% Invisible
99% invisible is a podcast featuring components of society that go mainly unnoticed. It often features interesting bits on architecture and design which our parkour audience would find interesting. Their episode on Uncomfortable Design inspired this anti-parkour design story. Check out their episode on their blog, click here.
Share with us
If you snap any pictures of anti-parkour design in your hometown, please send it our way. We will update this blog page with any interesting pics and stories we receive, we will give you photo credit! Tag us in the on Instagram or send them in via email. (Classes@freedominmotiongym.com)
What pic was most shocking to you? Don’t forget to chat with us in the comments below.
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