News

Leaping into new architectural era

28 April 2011

Architects and planning authorities should support "urban play" such as parkour if they want to design sustainable cities, a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) postgraduate says.

Christopher Rawlinson, who recently graduated with a Master of Architecture from QUT, will present a paper called Play in the City: Parkour and Architecture at an inaugural international postgraduate conference today at QUT's Gardens Point campus.

The conference, called eddBE2011, has attracted about 200 postgraduates from around the world and industry keynote speakers over three days to examine issues around engineering, designing and developing the built environment for sustainable wellbeing.

Mr Rawlinson said parkour, an activity in which people run, climb, jump and vault over obstacles such as walls, stairs and garden beds, showed the desire of the public to play in the city but was wrongly considered a public nuisance by some authorities.

"Parkour encourages people to play anywhere in the city. However, when we move outside parks and playgrounds we come into political conflict with those who govern and manage those spaces and other competing desires and fears," he said.

"I used parkour as a case study for the wider issue of urban play. The research focuses on the concept of playing in the city as a means to improve people's health and social wellbeing, and design approaches which mediate this conflict between our desire for play and our fears of public nuisance."

Mr Rawlinson said his research showed architects and planning authorities can take a different approach to accommodate activities including parkour, skateboarding and guerrilla gardening, in which people garden on someone else's land.

"Spaces need to be designed for multiple uses. What we should have is considerate design," he said.

More than 60 postgraduate students will present research during the conference, including:

- Jake Whitehead, QUT, whose paper The Brisbane Cordon Scheme examined the proposal to establish a congestion charging scheme in Brisbane.

- Lyndall Bryant, QUT, whose paper Assessing the Awareness and Importance of Housing Sustainability in Queensland showed most people were apathetic about sustainability issues when it came to real estate purchase decisions.

- Andrea Wechsler, UNSW, whose paper Sustainable Furniture Panel Composites from Forestry and Food Industry By-Products in Australia looked at the use of waste products from the macadamia nut industry as the base material for furniture composites.

- Emmy-Clare Rule, QUT, whose paper Understanding the Built Environment's Influence on Aged Care Residents' Sense of Place examined how the design of aged care facilities can affect its residents.

Professor John Bell, Assistant Dean of Research from QUT's Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering, said the conference was an important way to encourage postgraduate students to further their research and expose them to academic life.

"The refereeing process has been rigorous and there is some very good research here. We want students to be thinking of problems that address a real need rather than just theoretical academic issues," he said.

For more information about conference, visit www.bee.qut.edu.au/research/events/eddbe

Media contact: Stephanie Harrington, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1150, stephanie.harrington@qut.edu.au

Christopher Rawlinson says parkour is an example of how people can play in a city.