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Martin Gessinger
Martin Gessinger

The urban landscape as an activities area

Berlin, 11 April 2019

Martin Gessinger is a traceur. He engages in the sport known as parkour, in which the body’s own capabilities are used to traverse obstacles with the maximum efficiency. At the specialist forum Future City@Grünbau Berlin 2019 (Zukunft Stadt@Grünbau Berlin) he explained how he applied the philosophy of parkour to the company TraceSpace, which designs public spaces which are intended to allow room for activities, but without the need to install traditional play equipment. It is not necessary to be a competitive sportsman or woman, even though the myth of the traceur leaping from roof to roof might suggest this.

Gessinger’s objective is “To create spaces that promote the message: You can engage in activities here.” This subtle invitation leads to the creation of infrastructure designed to compensate for a lack of physical activity. Access is via a low threshold, thereby ensuring that everyone can realise his or her own potential, as well as doing something of benefit to their health. According to Gessinger, “everything is possible, for everyone from senior citizens to small children”. Despite the use of unusual materials of a “non-standardised character”, such as clay tiles, it has been possible to comply with German and EU standards, and thus to obtain orders from the public sector.