In 2014, a workshop held as part of a youth participation project became the genesis for one of the largest parkour facilities in Germany. The bottom-up process was based on close engagement with the young community living near the Zollverein industrial heritage site. The youth group — together with landscape architects, specialist planners for parkour facilities, and the Zollverein Foundation — designed the parkour complex, which officially opened in October 2017.
Parkour is a training discipline in which practitioners move unaided from point A to point B as quickly, efficiently, and elegantly as possible while navigating a series of obstacles — often in urban settings involving walls, facades, steps, and ramps. The parkour discipline has experienced considerable popularity and expansion worldwide since its origins in the 1980s, and competitive events have also been staged.
The Zollverein parkour facility is free to use and is located north of the coking plant within Zollverein Park. The complex covers about 600 sqm. To ensure long-term usage, the Zollverein Foundation, through the project "Zollverein Mittendrin", is working with a local NGO (AWO Jugendwerk), the Youth Welfare Office of the City of Essen, and the Institute for Community Development and Consultation (ISSAB) of the University of Duisburg-Essen, to make the facility accessible to many different groups.
Long-term perspective: The parkour facility attracts new user groups to the Zollverein site, who might also become interested in the industrial heritage. The engagement and participation process has stimulated and strengthened connections between the heritage site and local communities. The parkour facility provides an additional community function at the UNESCO heritage site.