A phenomenological study of the alternative appropriation of urban space by parkour practitioners
ABSTRACT: Parkour is an urban sport where practitioners utilize natural body movements such as running, jumping, and climbing to overcome obstacles in the urban environment efficiently and creatively. This phenomenological study investigates parkour practitioners and their alternative appropriations of urban space, defining the essence of their lived experiences. Utilizing the interview as the primary data collection method, parkour practitioners throughout the Midwest were questioned to define the essence of their collective lived experiences. The purpose of this study is to understand the contemporary perspective through which parkour practitioners view and experience the urban environment to contribute to the conversation between architecture, parkour, and urban space. The significance of this study is to understand this emerging usage of the city, identifying which urban conditions facilitate these movements, informing designers of which qualities and conditions in the city make these appropriations possible so that they may effectively incorporate this type of expression into urban spaces. Employing a qualitative phenomenological research methodology that is built upon the writings of Lefebvre, Borden, Merleau-Ponty, Pallasmaa, Serres, Latour, Angel, Csikszentmihalyi, and Lamb, this investigation addresses the main research question: What defines the essence of the lived experience that parkour practitioners have when they alternatively appropriate urban space? An important outcome of this study was the identification of certain urban conditions and elements which make urban spaces more ideal for parkour movements. Designers can utilize these examples to successfully incorporate the movements of parkour practitioners into urban spaces, giving them a multiplicity of different uses which go beyond their normative functions, expanding provided social functionality. Understanding this alternative perspective that parkour practitioners have on the function of urban space has the potential to redefine how these spaces are fundamentally considered, understood, and conceived by designers and how these spaces are perceived, utilized, and experienced by urban communities.
KEYWORDS: Alternative, Appropriation, Parkour, Phenomenology, Urban Space