Saint Petersburg is famous for its rooftopping due to several characteristics of the urban structure of the city itself. Most of the rooftops are open and not CCTVed so it is much easier to access them unlike in Moscow. Also, the city is famous for its ‘system of roofs’: the houses stand in one line without a gap between them along the street so you can walk from one roof to another. Sometimes you can walk the whole street along the rooftops.
If you type ‘roofers’ or ‘roofing’ in google most of the searches will lead you to companies who fix roofs. Paradoxically, this term in Russian has been totally created from English language but does not really exist in English in the same sense.
If you type ‘roofers’ or ‘roofing’ in google most of the searches will lead you to companies who fix roofs. Paradoxically, the term in Russian [руферы, руфинг] has been totally created from English language but the word does not exist in English with that meaning – those urban explorers are rather called roof-toppers.
People have always climbed roofs to have a better of a city festival or to have a romantic date, but it was during 2000s (we also call them in Russia ‘zero years’ [нулевые] ) that roof-toppers formed a movement. It is based on a combination of romantic desire of young people to distance themselves from the ‘zero’ and meaningless life running down there while they are just wasting their time on the top of another roof, and of the interventionist desire to reclaim the territory of their own city (getting to a roof-top is always illegal in Russia although technically they are not anyone’s property). As roof-topers we know our city very well: all its tiny streets, all its codes and unlocked doors, all its angry inhabitants and dangerous dogs, all its back stairs and fire exists. Actually, this city belongs to us.
I have been practicing ‘roofing’ for more than three years now. Here I intend to share with you some of my thoughts about it as well as pictures.
Photos: Alisa Oleva