‘Explore Everything: Place Hacking The City’ by Bradley L. Garrett

Almost didn’t make it through this, but I’m proper glad I did. A damn interesting book here, especially once you get past the background and first two chapters and in to the full-action of being part of the the urban exploration community around the world. Travelling shotgun around the world with the writer, this will make you want to go for a wander off the beaten-path, or at least look at your city a little differently.

Urban exploration – mostly known as urbex – is a topic we’ve touched on a few times, starting with the book Beauty In Decay that we picked up in London years back and more recently the work of Darmon Richter on thebohemianblog.com. The ethos of exploring spaces (public and private) generally blocked off to the by corporations and government is something that we align with and strongly support.

As a result of this we made a point of going to see Bradley Garrett’s talk – ‘Hack Your City‘ – on the opening day of Festival Of Dangerous Ideas. A geographer by training, Garrett comes across as primarily an academic, well-spoken and surprisingly philosophical in his approach to climbing cranes, popping manhole covers and evading security guards.

Explore Everything: Place Hacking The City isn’t the guide to urban exploration that Ninjalicious’ oft-referenced Access All Areas is, and nor is it the photographic coffee book table that the Beauty In Decay series is.

Explore Everything is instead a beautiful mixture of stunning photography, sociological philosophy and non-fiction adventure writing. Garrett became involved with the urban exploration community while writing his PhD, for a short period of time (following LCC conquering the recently topped Shard in London) became the spokesperson for outsider grouping, and eventually had his passport revoked while spending time in lock-up.

We’re going to be in honest in stating that the early introductions in to why the players in this story do what they do can drag on a bit, but this might be that we’ve come to it with a bit of knowledge on it already, limited as it may be. But once you hit the chapter titled ‘The Rise Of An Infiltration Crew’ and through ‘Grails Of The Underground’ onwards, you’re travelling at breakneck speed, and the early pieces of philosophy and background help you keep up.

via Bradley Garrett
It is assumed that every inch of the world has been explored and charted; that there is nowhere new to go. But perhaps it is the everyday places around us—the cities we live in—that need to be rediscovered. What does it feel like to find the city’s edge, to explore its forgotten tunnels and scale unfinished skyscrapers high above the metropolis? Explore Everything reclaims the city, recasting it as a place for endless adventure.

Plotting expeditions from London, Paris, Berlin, Detroit, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Bradley L. Garrett has evaded urban security in order to experience the city in ways beyond the boundaries of conventional life. He calls it ‘place hacking’: the recoding of closed, secret, hidden and forgotten urban space to make them realms of opportunity.

Explore Everything is an account of the author’s escapades with the London Consolidation Crew, an urban exploration collective. The book is also a manifesto, combining philosophy, politics and adventure, on our rights to the city and how to understand the twenty-first century metropolis.

Really recommend grabbing a copy of this book, and if you get the chance to here Garrett talk make sure you do. As a nice accompaniment to the writings there’s also the two-part video series Crack The Surface, embedded below.