Urban exploration

post by : aurelie.stampfli

« Urbex » is the short name for urban exploration. It stands for the exploration of all kinds of man-made structures that have fallen into ruins or been abandoned. They can also still be active and part of the unseen side of working buildings and urban utilities. Some places to be explored in an “urbex way” can be rooftops, utility tunnels, ghost towns, cemeteries or abandoned cathedrals, hospitals and much more. To some extend it is categorized as a form of dark tourism.

Why go on an urban exploration?  Participants can be seeking for fear and adrenaline or wanting to explore places that are uncommon and unknown. Some take pictures as a proof or even a trophy. Others just like to observe and let their imagination guide them and think about what might have happened in the surroundings. They are often seen as vandals, but the explorers are respectful and their philosophy can be stated as: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”.

The concept of exploring abandoned urban areas includes some rules in order not to damage the properties visited. Breaking, stealing, moving or tagging elements is strictly forbidden. Some explorers even ask for permission in advance before entering a place to avoid contact with the police. Rules do not take away the dangerousness of this activity, it is recommended to be trained before going on an exploration. Rotten floors, toxic waste, broken glass, stray voltage and guard dogs might be disturbing or harmful. Be careful that the strive for extreme feelings does not take over safety.

In the French-part of Switzerland an urbex community exists. As they say on their Facebook page their mission is not to protect the places to visit, but to show them before they disappear or are destroyed. People share to the community pictures of places or new spots to be visited. The administrator of the Facebook page has even created a website where we can find various maps of places to be explored or tools such as flashlights or master keys.