The Playground: Parkour And Architecture

The London Festival of Architecture is rapidly approaching and has a fun theme: The Playful City. The avid pop-up fan knows that we dig play, and it’s been a theme this spring in Amsterdam: be it playful public art or making urban planning more fun for participants, there’s a lot of talk about playfulness in urban space. It’s not a surprise, then, that our friends across the Channel are taking play so seriously.

Part of the festivities is a screening of Kaspar Astrup Schröder’s film, ‘My Playground’. The film is all about parkour, a sport that is all about moving through urban environments in creative and efficient ways. The trailer, besides being fantastically edited with a great score, features interviews with traceurs (i.e., people that do parkour) and known architectural bad boy Bjarke Ingels. The brief fragments of dialogue in the trailer provide insight into what architecture ought to do with the urbanscape: transform it, challenge it, dismantle our preconceptions of it. That’s the only way we can really make the city playful again, by refusing to interpret our landscape in a rigid way.

Schröder’s My Playground will be shown on 26 June at the Royal Institute of British Architects (66 Portland Place, London), and tickets are £5. This year’s London Festival of Architecture runs from 23 June through 8 July.