John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
An intervention in Paris asks people to treat public spaces as private gyms.
A while back, the Adult Swim show "Delocated" made an awesomely cheesy infomercial about the "ultimate free gym"—the street. Please, absorb the beauty of "Street Stretch":
Well, I'll be got-danged, because somebody has made something a lot like this in a Parisian business district. But public exercisers don't have to subsist on subway-stair running tracks or sewer-grate sit-ups with Mens Sana in Corpore Sano, a joint project among artist Nicolas Lelièvre, architect Florian Brillet, and marketer JCDecaux. These people have actually attached sporting paraphernalia to street signs: a basketball net, a speed bag, a soccer goal, and more. Now office drones who are having a frustrating day can storm out and release stress by, say, delivering crushing body kicks to a padded directions post:
As for why they did this, Lelièvre and Brillet write at Designboom:
This series of interventions aims to transform the use and perception of the community. From the most common (basketball and football) to the surprising (boxing and golf), the choice of the activities is significant. Their presence suggests an unexpected use of space, inviting people to reconsider their relationship with the built environment. not only are they fully functional, but they are also art installations, addressing "a sound mind in a sound body," which the work’s title translates to from latin.
Here are a few of the other ways you can now work those muscles in Paris: