Title: Trails, Tracks & Traces
Author: Klaus Humpert
Publisher: edition esefeld & traub, Stuttgart
Publication Year: 2020
Running, walking, and strolling have taken on a new quality in times of the corona pandemic. The architect and urban planner Klaus Humpert has been dealing with the phenomenon of human walking for decades. He has looked for trails, tracks, and slopes in order to deduce a system, a law. Because these paths, whether shortcuts or detours, are the unadulterated human walking programs etched in the ground, regardless of the given route networks – and knowledge about them can be integrated into urban planning.
The book Trails, Tracks & Traces, now available in English by edition esefeld & traub, summarizes these studies on the phenomenon of human walking. They arose as part of the special research area “Natural Constructions” initiated by Frei Otto (1984-1995 at the universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen). On the basis of observations and examples from all over the world, such as his own field tests and reconstructions of historical path networks, Klaus Humpert presents different types of human locomotion in this volume, which can be read as walking tracks in the countryside, but also in areas around buildings. These tracks, trails, shortcuts or detours are often optimizations of “walking lines” that provide information about the psychological behaviour of our locomotion. The inner coherence and the often rigid assertiveness of the self-constructed and idiosyncratic structures show that there are no weak forces at work here.
These self-organization and self-formation processes of “walking trails”, as an expression of one’s own finely tuned navigation, often contradict rationally planned road and street networks. The author’s theses should also be understood as a plea for more human-oriented landscape and urban planning.
Klaus Humpert (born in 1929) is emeritus professor of urban development in the architecture and urban development department at the University of Stuttgart. Before that, he was head of the Freiburg city planning office for many years.