Bradley Garrett

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Bradley L. Garrett

Bradley Garrett (born c. 1981)[1] is an American-born social and cultural geographer at the University of Southampton. He is the author of Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City,[2] an ethnographic account of activities of the London Consolidation Crew (LCC), a group of urban explorers Garrett calls "place hackers". In a 2013 interview with Will Storr for The Telegraph, Garrett described "place hacking" as "...seeing the city like it’s a puzzle and putting the pieces of that puzzle together, connecting things". Garrett went on to explain that "...the more we feel like there are things we can’t do and places we can’t see, the more urban exploration has [a] capacity to give people hope".[3] Though Garrett has published academic research papers on archaeology, history and visual methods, it is his multimedia work (photos, videos and text) connected to the "place hackers" project which has received the most attention, both in academia and from the wider public.[1] In October 2013, Prestel Publishing released a photo book called "Subterranean London: Cracking the Capital"[4] that Garrett compiled with the LCC. The foreword to the book was written by Will Self, who met Garrett in 2013 when they debated Garrett's work Barbican Centre.[5]


Garrett received a B.S. in anthropology and B.A. in history from the University of California, Riverside in 2003 before moving to Australia to undertake an MSc in maritime archaeology at James Cook University in 2005. He did his first ethnographic research with the Winnemem Wintu tribe in Northern California about their loss of access to ancestral land inundated by the construction of Shasta Dam.[6] He then worked for private archaeology firms in Hawaii and for the Bureau of Land Management in California as an archaeologist. In 2008, Garrett moved to the United Kingdom where he completed a PhD in social and cultural geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, with a thesis entitled Tales of Urban Exploration.[7] He was supervised by the human geographer Tim Cresswell. Upon completion of his PhD, Garrett took up a two-year postdoctoral research post at School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, where he was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford.


Garrett currently works at the University of Southampton. He describes his research interests as being at the intersections of cultural geography, archaeology and visual methods and writes that his research is about "finding the hidden in the world".[8][9]

His most significant work is Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City.[2] The book describes the exploits of the LCC, as they trespassed into hundred of locations over five years in an attempt to "reveal the hidden city".[10] The book was chosen by Rowan Moore of The Guardian as one of the best architecture books of 2013.[11] Garrett claims the goal of this work was to re-map London by opening out vertical urban imaginations and exposing the ways in which surveillance and control are embedded in modern spatial planning.[12] Garrett suggests surveillance is subverted and rendered inert through the urban explorer's "place hack" when control of the city is temporarily taken back through creative practice. In a 2014 TEDx talk entitled "Trespass is Good for Cities", Garrett told the audience that "When we explore cities, when we ignore the "no trespassing" signs and cross those borders, whether we can see them or not, we open up opportunities for critical creativity, we re-create space and we make the impossible possible."[13] Garrett was also invited to speak about his research at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House and at Google Zeitgeist in 2014, where he shared a session with Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States.[14][15]

In his public lectures, Garrett describes how the LCC came to notoriety first in 2011 when they released photos of the mothballed London Post Office Railway, a 6.5-mile subterranean train network used by the Post Office to transport post across the city.[16] The next year, the group (with Garrett) climbed the Shard, the European Union's tallest skyscraper, before it was completed, and released photos from the top of the building.[17] Near the end of his research project, Garrett followed the LCC as they systematically infiltrated abandoned Tube stations in the London Underground without permission and posted photos online.[12][18] Soon after, Garrett began appearing on UK media discussing these explorations, describing himself as "the scribe for the tribe".[7][19][20][21][22][23]


Garrett has been criticised for being too close to his project participants and failing to maintain objective distance as a researcher.[24] In 2011, four of his project participants were arrested inside the London Tube on Easter.[25] Garrett himself was later also arrested at Heathrow Airport by British Transport Police investigating the group's means of access to abandoned Tube stations.[1] Garrett maintains that he does ethnography in the tradition of the Chicago school (sociology) and claims the only way to understand a culture is to become fully immersed in it.[12] The charges against Garrett concluded with a three-year conditional discharge and a £2000 fine being issued by the court. [26] Will Self came to the defence of Garrett and the urban explorers, writing in the London Evening Standard that "place-hackers are performing a valuable service by reminding us that the city should, in principle, belong to its citizens" [27] University of Oxford Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography Professor Danny Dorling also spoke out at the end of the case, contending that the prosecution had been a fundamental breach of academic liberty. [28]

Current research[edit]

Garrett writes on his academic profile page that his next project will be about how "technologies and changing political and economic imperatives are transforming human relationships to outer space."[29]


  1. ^ a b c Power, Matthew (March 2013). "Excuse us While We Kiss the Sky". GQ Magazine. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Bradley L. Garrett (October 2013). Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City. Verso Books, Brooklyn, London and Paris. ISBN 9781781681299. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  3. ^ Storr, Will (19 August 2014). "The Secrets of Underground London". Telegraph Media Group Limited. The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  4. ^ name="SubterraneanLondon">Bradley L. Garrett (October 2014). Subterranean London: Cracking the Capital. Prestel Publishing, Munich, London and New York. ISBN 9783791349459. Retrieved 2014-11-05. 
  5. ^ "Kiss the Sky - Explore Everything: Talk with Bradley L. Garrett and Will Self". Barbican Centre. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Drowned Memories: the Submerged Places of the Winnemem Wintu". Archaeologies: the Journal of the World Archaeology Congress. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Godwin, Richard (15 June 2012). "On a Mission with London's Urban Explorers". Evening Standard Magazine. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Bradleygarrett". Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Dr Bradley Garrett". University of Southampton. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  10. ^ Garrett, Bradley (2013). Dr. Verso Books. ISBN 1781681295. 
  11. ^ Rowan, Moore (8 Dec 2013). "Architecture books of the year – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Garrett, Bradley (31 July 2013). "Undertaking Recreational Trespass: Urban Exploration and Infiltration". Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. doi:10.1111/tran.12001. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  13. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "The Value of Trespass". YouTube. TEDx Talks. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Place-Hack Your City". YouTube. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  15. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Explore Everything". Google. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  16. ^ "En fotos: Viaje a uno de los secretos mejor guardados de Londres". BBC Mundo. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  17. ^ Andrews, Emily (9 April 2012). "'Urban explorer' scales London's 1,000ft Shard". Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Hacking the London Underground". Place Hacking. 
  19. ^ "Invisible Cities". BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  20. ^ Hannah, Booth (21 September 2012). "Big picture: Urban Exploration, by Bradley Garrett". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  21. ^ "The new Occupy? The activists reclaiming public space". Channel 4 News. Channel 4. 7 Oct 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "Urban explorers -- intrepid, or troublemakers?". BBC News. BBC Newsnight. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  23. ^ Laurie, Taylor (13 October 2014). "Dementia Handbags; Place Hacking". BBC News. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  24. ^ Luke, Bennett. "Exploring the Bunker". Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  25. ^ Davinport, Justin. "Terror alert at 7/7 Tube station blamed on four urban explorers". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  26. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Place-hacker Bradley Garrett: research at the edge of the law". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  27. ^ Self, Will. "Give the freedom of the city to our urban explorers". Evening Standard. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  28. ^ Booth, Robert. "Oxford University academic who scaled Shard is spared jail sentence". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  29. ^ "Dr Bradley Garrett". University of Southampton. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 

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