What is Urban Camping?

We’ve been thinking lately, when you hear the word camping, you immediately think large outdoor space. Woodlands, campsites, mountains, always a considerable space in which to pitch up. But lately I’ve been thinking (not to often, as it’s not good for me!), what about camping in different locations? Like, roof tops, or subways etc?

Then this picture happened to cross my path….

Urban Camping

Courtesy Images Filip Dujardin/OWI and used with permission.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? Built by import.export, a Belgian architect firm, the premise was to provide camping in an urban environment. On a mobile multi storey structure. Four platforms, made of steel provide tent camping facilities. The design can be moved to individual cities who open their hearts to camping.

Define Urban Camping?

It’s camping in ‘some form’ in an urban setting, and it’s the term ‘some form’ that creates the excitement of Urban Camping. It can be, a quiet corner of a public park with or without your tent, a tent on top of a tower block, or even a tent pitched to look like a car, to escape even further.

It doesn’t have to involve a tent or even a sleeping bag, sleeping in a campervan or a car counts – not so sure about the car! Urban Camping is being used as both a solution to cheaper camping, when travelling from city to city, or when cash is strapped. Sometimes, as an adventure to discover hidden parts of a city.


The big question, is it legal? Probably not, as most cities and towns have a ‘move on’ policy. We’d assume, that if you’re careful where you pitch, or sleep, you could get away with it. To keep things legal, you’ll need to obtain permission from whoever owns the land you want to camp on. Approaching the local fire station, town hall, community centre etc.  However, recent developments in Portland, Oregon (USA), mean the Mayor has declared the sidewalks  available for all to use. Hence authorising sleeping on the pavements. This article from the Willamette Week took camping to the streets.

Alternatively, what about camping on a Hong Kong rooftop. Sky Camping offer tents with luxuries such as swimming and steam rooms, on the rooftop of a hotel in Hong Kong centre! New York have also taken the Urban Camping to another level with their Urban Park Rangers camping program.  Offering a weekend of camping and other outdoor activities such as stargazing, nature talks, canoeing and archery.

Conceptual artist Thomas Stevenson, used his ‘urban exploration‘ program to bring campers together on the rooftops, of New York.

Check out Urban Camping in the UK

In 2009 Bovril set up an ‘extreme urban campsite’ on a high rise in London. A bid to celebrate Britain’s many urban areas.

Whilst Urban Camping has been slow to take off here in the UK, it’s a growing trend. We want to combine a city break with a bit of camping.  Another element to Urban Camping is the trend of camping indoors, available across Europe, our blog highlights 3 locations.

One alternative, and whilst not entirely in keeping with the Urban Camping theme,  is the highly successful campinmygarden.com. This website gives you details of gardens, where the owners are more than happy for you to pitch your tent, for a small fee.  Since its launch in April 2011, campinmygarden has grown with over 2500 members across UK and much of Europe. Stays cost from as little as £6 a night, it makes camping an absolute bargain, with a sense of adventure, and a chance to meet new people on their doorstep.

So there we go, a small introduction to Urban Camping. If you’re out there Urban Camping or off on an adventure, let us know, we’d love to follow your progress. Tweet or Facebook us. Until next time #getoutside.

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