Climbing Club is a monthly excursion to climb on buildings it happens on the last Sunday of every month, meet opposite the Lloyds building on Leadenhall Street at midday.
There is a three minute wonder, channel 4, documentary about it here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXd4t-swiZA∞
Initiated by Lottie Child in 2002, climbing club investigates the built environment of the City of London by climbing, traversing and scrambling all over it. Climbing club’s ethos has evolved through the discussions and experimentation of those who constitute it. By trying new things with our bodies in relation to architecture to expand the repertoire of modes of engagement with structures that initially seem to determine only very limited behaviour. Through urban climbing it is possible to discover multiple possible modes of engagement with the built environment, the group and other seemingly fixed, rigid structures both physical and social.
By 'misusing' and occupying space on the city streets, climbing club joins with town planners and architects in their shaping and changing of urban space.
Climbing club members try new things with their bodies and if useful, fun or successful these moves are noticed by other members and incorporated in to the repertoire of moves.
Urban climbing looks at the city with new eyes focusing on its potential for play and tuning in to the ways in which our movements and behaviour in public space are conditioned.
By deviating slightly from expected behaviour urban climbers gain insights into the detail and textures of seemingly public spaces; who owns them, what is permitted and what is actually happening there.
The climbing expeditions last as long as we wish, No equipment is used, activity takes place no more than a few feet off the ground and the pace is set to suit the participants. Bring your kids and your grandmother, wear long skirts, have a hangover.
Climbing moves and activities approved by the City of London Police, Pc Hutchins June 26 2005
On June the 26th climbing club met at the usual place opposite the Lloyds building on Leadenhall street in the City. Three riot vans and two police cars came to meet us. We were told that we would be prevented from urban climbing. We immediately challenged the police saying that we would be deconditioning our bodies by experimenting with architecture and street furniture, that we would be expanding our repertoire of movements on the city streets beyond going to work or going shopping, we would be creating a group dynamic that evolved from each participants unique approach and desires. That we would be educating ourselves about the extent to which the built environment dictates our behaviour and therefore shapes society and hopefully experiencing a sense of possibilities for collective activity in the face of rigid controlling structures. Some of the kinds of activities we intended to carry out were run past them and climbing club was able to hurriedly compile this list of City Police endorsed manoeuvres:
∑ Jumping on bollards
∑ Swinging on railings
∑ Climbing trees without causing damage to their branches
∑ Climbing lampposts up to but not beyond 2 meters
∑ Climbing on police riot vans is not allowed even if they do have useful grippy grilles and bars
The police officers were then invited to join in. After due consideration the officers decided to accompany us on the climb. After we had been climbing for a few minutes one of them advised us that if we ran into any trouble from security guards, they would be there to advocate on our behalf. Two police officers remained with us throughout a two hour climbing expedition.
Some images from Urban Detour in Birmingham
Images of Lottie showing off
taken by Immo Klink
For Climbing Club reports visit
For a map of climable public art in Copenhagen visit
How to organise your own climbing club
With a few people, choose a location that interests you.
Wander around, mess about.
You might start by climbing stairs two at a time or walking with one foot on the road and one on the pavement.
Be mindful of your fear it is a useful way to gauge what you are capable of.
At some point you might want to get onto the façade of a building.
Traversing, rather than scaling is a high reward, low risk approach.
For more information about Climbing Club contact Lottie Child email@example.com also see www.malinky.org Climbing Club is part of higher educational, self institution The University of Openess. www.twenteenthcentury.com/uo
Climbing Club looked at risk taking physical social and psychological - at one point i decided to invite people who work in the city and deal with risk - the virtual, remote kind dealing with other people's money and impacting on remote communities to climb with us and compare what the risks they took with the physical risks we took. This lead to me organising a 'risk conference' using corporate conference calling tech but repurposing it by having climbers talking on hands free mobiles actually experiencing risk on the facades of banks, we had people calling in from home too and a risk manager who happened to be named Rich who did some heroic climbing in his brogues!
Climbing Club was very playful often the person who stayed on the edges just watching would do something poetic or funny, like hide in an alcove or go down the stairs in an unusual way. I realised what scope there was for playful behaviour in the city streets and how transgressive it is. We are conditioned to only use the streets for shopping and going to work and we police ourselves and others if we step out of a very narrow rigid code of the road.
When People experiment with their behaviour in the streets we change the streets a zebra crossing is a very different place when there are two people kissing on it. This link between behaviour and the politics of public space shows that it matters how each person chooses to behave because we have a tremendous effect on our suroundings, even though we often feel that the whole machine goes on regardless and inspite of us.
this where the martial art comes in - we make small fleeting changes to the places we experiment with playful behaviour in and we make small incremental changes in ourselves we condition our selves to be more creative, braver and responsive to what is going on around us. Much like training in a martial art it takes years.
That is why i invited people do become street trainers do develop these skills and transform ourselves and our city streets. For a Street Training event in Linz I did a series of workshops looking at historical urban interventions - such as the situationist international, artist interventions such as Vallie Export and activist interventions such as the space hijackers and mobile clubbing.
Going out into the streets to play games together, a watching period where people spend 15 minutes noticing what is happening within and around them and then we make interventions, such as occupying a zebra crossing with arm chairs, climbing, throwing a balloon through an open window, making music by throwing pieces of gravel at a hollow statue, getting as many people as possible into a phone box, smelling flowers, getting on to a roof top.
As with most martial arts Street Training has an aspect of stillness, silence and meditation called 'Doing Nothing' this skill is difficult for many people but every one has their own technique. During my research i asked people for theirs one seven year old girl told me "you lay down on the grass, put your hands behind you head and look at the clouds" its a brilliant technique i used it the other day with a friend we lay on the pavement outside habitat on tottenham court road. I will be inviting people do nothing together in train stations and busy shopping streets regularly in the coming months.
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