Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer

Buildering: barely even a thing

Abstract

Often frivolous and whimsical, urban climbing has a rich history. Contrary to popular assumption, the phenomenon is neither an offshoot of parkour nor a by-product of the recent trend of rooftop exploration and its resultant photography. Whilst it overlaps extensively, urban climbing has its own characteristics, community and style.
Contemporary exponents often use the term buildering, a portmanteau of 'buildings' and 'bouldering', the latter being a discipline of climbing that focuses on short, difficult ascents that require powerful moves. Many sports and activities are esoteric and autotelic, and bouldering is perhaps the apogee of climbing's absurdity given that the majority of ascents can be achieved by simply walking up the other side of a boulder rather than seeking out a series of nooks and crannies in which to wedge fingers and toes and repeatedly rub chalk.
Buildering takes this esotericism even further. Given its niche appeal and scarcity of practitioners, it is typically an informal, ephemeral, sometimes inadvertently subversive, unstructured activity. Unlike parkour, climbing, or other urban social formations such as skateboarding, it is barely even a “thing”.

Published:
Pages:147 to 152
Section: Viewpoint
How to Cite
Day, A. (2017) “Buildering: barely even a thing”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(1), pp. 147-152. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i1.57.

Downloads

Total Abstract Views: 899  Total PDF Downloads: 229

Author Biography

Andy Day is an internationally published photographer specialising in adventure sports, travel, architectural and landscape photography. He has been photographing physical interaction with the city since 2003. Through participant-observation, Andy's work examines the body’s relationship with the built environment, wilful misuse of architecture, subversive practices, appropriation of space and place, edgework and social interaction. His photographs have had a significant role in shaping the visual culture of parkour and free-running. With an MA in Photography from Goldsmiths, he also speaks, teaches and writes about the sociology of urban space.
After living in east London for ten years, Andy now bases himself in rural Bulgaria and spends much of his time travelling. His portfolio is available at andyday.com, his archive at kiell.com.
He also co-runs buildering.net and is always grateful for new content.
Andy is a proud member of the Urban Photographers Association and Crossing Lines.

References

Daskalaki, Maria and Mould, Oli (2013). “Beyond Urban Subcultures: Urban Subversions as Rhizomatic Social Formations.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 37 (1): 1–18. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2427.2012.01198.x. http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/j.1468-2427.2012.01198.x.

Lyng, Stephen (2004). Edgework: The Sociology of Risk-Taking. Edgework: The Sociology of Risk-Taking. New York: Routledge.

Robert, Alain. “No Title.” Brainyquote.com. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/alain_robert.html.

Ward, Colin (1973). Anarchy in Action. London: George Allen and Unwin.

Winthrop-Young, Geoffrey (2013). Wall and Roof Climbing. Oleander Press.
Open Access Journal
ISSN 2206-9658