Urbex is the hobby (some might say sport) of exploring derelict buildings, underground bunkers, disused hospitals, subterranean tunnels, abandoned factories and other such forgotten structures or pieces of land.
What sort of things do you see?
Well, lots of dirt, grime, liquids, goo, oil, rotten wood, hornets nests, and other grim things but also some interesting things such as control panels, equipment, machines, pianos, graffiti, furniture and other artifacts left behind from the days when the building was in it’s prime.
Why would anyone do that?
I’m sure everyone’s reasons differ but the key is really in the ‘exploration’ part of the term, we want to explore the world around us and unlike most people we don’t see abandonment and decay as ‘dangerous’ or ‘disgusting’, we see it as ‘interesting’ and ‘challenging’. For some it’s about photography, for others it’s about the excitement of seeing somewhere that most normal people haven’t and being somewhere you’re not supposed to.
You may wonder what sort of people would do such a thing, well from the web and from personal experience I’ve encountered college students, photographers, professionals, generally all sorts of people and everyone I’ve met in person has been nice and friendly too.
Hold-on a minute, isn’t this illegal?
Not as far as I’m aware, I’m not a lawyer but from everything I’ve read and heard it’s not a criminal offence to be on someone else’s property but unless you have permission it could be considered as trespass. Now, trespass is a civil matter and if you’re caught on someone’s property without the appropriate permission you could be sued but in reality this is very unlikely as the benefits of doing so would be pretty limited.
This all sounds very nasty but in practice most urbexers are considerate people and are not planning to do anything wrong (at least not morally speaking). It would be easy for people to lump together people who take part in Urban Exploration with vandals and other such scumbags but nothing could be further from the truth. We’re not there to cause damage or spray graffiti (though evidence of both tend to be found on most sites), we’re there to explore, observe and sometimes document the location but never to cause any trouble.
If exploring on a site with security most urbexers will avoid detection or capture but if asked to leave then they will, peacefully and politely. Additionally most urbexers would also be cooperative with the police if the need arose, I have even heard of urbexers reporting suspicious events and evidence of criminal activity directly to the police.
OK then, but is it safe? Obviously we’re exploring abandoned buildings, sometime these are not long since abandoned or are still being maintained but in many cases they are not and have fell into ruin. Basically it’s up to the individual but as long as you take precautions you should be OK, I plan to write an article about safety specifically so please check this post on Urbex Safety.
So how do I get started / find out more?
Well for starters, bookmark this blog and come back from time to time as I get post more information. Over the next few weeks and months I plan to post a mixture of tips and tricks, site visits and general information about the community, if you’re eager then read my urbex safety tips and remember that Google is your friend.
NOTE: All photos published on this blog are available from Flickr via Creative Commons and are attributed to their rightful owners by virtue of a link back to their Flickr page. You should also be clear that I’m not condoning any unsafe, illegal or immoral activities and my advice is just that – advice. I offer no guarantees that my advice is even worth following and anyone that listens to a single word I have to say does so at their own risk – in short, I’ve spent many decades of my life avoiding responsibility so I’m not about to take any now!