The “Urbex Codex” is something quite elusive, as many over the years has put down in words their own interpretations of the codex. However much are repeated and it has become something most explorers come across when diving into urban exploration. It’s something that holds quite a bit of value to most explorers. We all share the same hope of persevering these sites from unneeded damage, and it should be taken in by new explorers to respect the sites we visit.
Here I’ll try to write down the most common “rules,” and further add my own interpretation. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Unofficial Urbex Codex:
1. Leave nothing but footprints, take only photographs
This is the best known rule in urban exploration and also the most important one. It leans on the Sierra Club mantra, “explore, enjoy and protect”. We are only visitors and should be respectful as such, which means you can not take anything from the site with you (i.e. stealing); It doesn’t matter what it is, of course an old moldy newspaper doesn’t hold any physical value, but think of it like the coral reef principal. If you allow everyone to take a little piece home with them, soon there won’t be anything left for those who follow to see. Copper and scrap metal thievery is a common treat to most derelict constructions, and there’s recently been a news headline of people discovering an intact old military bunker and selling much of the effects inside on e-bay. It’s important to distance ourselves from such crimes and we can only do so by following and broadening this rule.
And leave without a trace; don’t leave your thrash, cigaret buds and whatnot - leave only footprints.
2. No vandalism / graffiti
Vandalism (graffiti included) is disrespectful, illegal and ruining to what could otherwise be an amazing location. Apart for ruining a site for other explorers, we sometimes come across locations and buildings that are undergoing reconstruction and so it is directly damaging to the owner trying to restore a building. Furthermore, if you can’t find an immediate entrance to a location don’t bust down the door, smash a hole in the boards or whatever. It’s just not cool, find another entrance - there’s almost always a way. Be prepared to accept that you may not be able to get inside and walk away. It sucks, of course it does. Especially if you’ve traveled a great distance to get there, but it’s for the best. Most people outside the urbex culture are already wary about us, stuff like this only adds fuel to the fire.
3. Be careful
Think before you act and know your limits. Don’t crawl up an old rusty ladder if it looks shady. Don’t walk on floorboards that feel or look like they could break any second. Leave immediately if the air feels wrong. Wear a dust mask if you stay inside an old building for a longer period of time (those cheap hardware store ones are still better then nothing). If you can don’t go alone, let someone know where you’re going if you do go alone. Having a cellphone isn’t always enough - all sites don’t exactly have a good coverage. You could get trapped under falling debris, break a leg or otherwise get hurt.
This is a dangerous hobby, acknowledge that. People have died while exploring derelict sites.
4. Protect the location
Don’t put up the exact adresse of a location you’ve found online or anywhere else. Surprisingly there’s so many ill-minded people scouting for a place to hang out in and vandalize. Graffiti “artists” looking for a place to tag. Hell, there’s even kids who find it entertaining to set fire to a building! Know that there are people who does not respect that they’re only visitors and who does not care about the codex.
Be protective about locations you know of, and respect that other explorers might not what to share their sites with you. It’s not that their elitist bastards (of course there are a few exceptions), but they’ve learned that it’s sadly a necessary precaution.
Having said that, of course you can share locations, just don’t do it with complete strangers whos intending you don’t know.
5. Enjoy yourself
If you’re not having a good time what’s the point?
Don’t be afraid that you might get caught be a disgruntled security guards. Do this long enough and you inevitable will one time or another. Most of the trouble you get into, you can politely talk your way out of - especially if you’re carrying a camera and have followed the rules above - just apologize and leave when asked to.
Feel free to use and share this “codex” as you wish. I wrote it with the intention of broadening the set of rules that is to some extent already well known by established urban explorers, and in hopes of new explorers discovering and taking them with them.
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