Capital Steel Works – Beijing – Grade A-
Beijing Steel Works is a rare beast in the Urbex world. The site is in an almost vacuum state where it feels like all the workers just put down their tools one day and left. The machines have been left as if one turn someone will turn on the plant again.
The site is huge with more rust and corrupted cranes, pulleys, and conveyor belts that you could see in a week. The crane-like structures that you can see in the pictures apparently shifted unrefined steel to conveyor belts which stretch across the complex.
The site is massive in scale and is punctuated by enormous machines, with pipes and cooling units galore. The urbex explorer must be very careful here as the overhead structures creak in the wind and bits regularly fall off.
These metal dragons seemed to be used to scoop out the unrefined steel and shift it up onto the conveyor belts. They have big blunt teeth, and ugly faces.
Train tracks also criss-cross the plant, there are plenty of abandoned trains, carriages, and miniature train stations to be found. Jump over the outer wall, avoid the security guards, follow the train tracks and in whichever direction you travel, you’ll find some Urbex treasures.
This is a huge site, so be sure to take your time. Once you visit this place once, you’ll be addicted. If you ever want to pay a visit, just contact me on email@example.com, and I’ll show you around. Also be sure to check out Burbex – Brin’s Urban Exploration on YouTube for great new videos every week.
I’m always looking around for new places to explore, but I never find them. How do you find these places anyway?
Constantly on the road scouting for new places to explore, Burbex is looking for a few key indicators that a building is empty. Once an urbexer knows a few of these indicators, the whole city lights up like a fairground. Bright Horse Furniture Mall is no exception. In this post, we’ll look at a few indicators.
The strongest indicator of abandonment is when construction seems to have come to a standstill. Guosen Mall hasn’t progressed since 2008, but Burbex has been keeping an eye on Bright Horse Mall for the last two years. Even though there was a recent delivery of new escalators, there hasn’t been any progress.
Burbex crept into the complex via the ramp at the rear of the building, which descends three levels into a flooded underground parking lots. Dark water has seeped in from beneath the cement floor, yet another strong sign of abandonment. Burbex kept expecting a drowned witch to rise up with her arms outstretched.
Disappointed at the lack of undead witches, Burbex climbed the internal fire escapes and cam out in the central atrium of the shopping mall. Escalators and elevators are everywhere, and even Burbex’s whispering footsteps echoed loudly in the huge space.
Another clue that a building is abandoned is the blue sheets that cover all machinery, keeping the piercing Beijing dust away from their internal mechanisms. The recently delivered escalators lurk like blue ghosts in the sprawling darkness.
Burbex eventually made his way up onto the rooftops, where the ambient light seeped through the vents and walkways, casting a purplish glow over the massive area. Purple stains like spilled iodine covered the rooftop, disinfecting the crumbling building’s wounded pride.
The half cylindrical dome that protects the mall from the elements glows a gentle blue, reflecting the light pollution. Outside the traffic sounds of the fourth ringroad echo all about, a keen reminder of both how close and far away civilisation still abounds.
The logo for the building reads 爱家商业大厦 or Love Home Trade Building. Burbex actually felt pretty estranged from his own family standing on a building in the near darkness trying to capture glimpses of emptiness. That specific feeling is always the strongest indicator a building is empty.
With the strong sense of abandonment and melancholia permeating Bright Horse Mall, Burbex awards the building with a solid B+. If ever you want to come along and discover your own hidden melancholia in the heart of a forgotten building, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also be sure to check out the new Burbex Beijing Urban Exploration channel on YouTube – all the same great locations as the blog but in full moving glory.
What does it take to make an urbex site special?
First of all, it should be challenging enough to keep you interested. Usually the bigger the site the better. Weird architecture, or water features are always a bonus, and if it is somehow culture related, then that’s even better. Is it possible to find sites like that these days? You bet your ass!
Burbex is a big fan of abandoned shopping malls, and The Ethnic Minorities Mall is no exception. Burbex has passed by this place a million times, but unlike The Great Mall of China and Guosen Mall, the Ethnic Minorities Mall does not really have an outstanding exterior, but you should never judge an urbex by its cover.
This Mall is actually right next to one of the stranger theme parks in Beijing called The Ethnic Minorities Theme Park featuring all 56 of China’s ethnic minortities doing their ethnic activities like hearding goats (that’s not a joke) and dancing in their own respective areas. The Mall was probably intended for greater things, but was never completed.
After a stealthy entrance, Burbex was confronted with an enormous glass covered atrium, which was fast filling up with the drizzling rain. The place was huge and some zigzag staircases led to the roof area, while incomplete staircase invited the causal urbexer to their doom.
From the rooftop area, Burbex had a good view of the Ethnic Minority Park, the large structure below is from the Uighur Minority who are found in Xinjiang Automonous Region, or intimidating passersby into buying enormous date cakes on street corners.
From inside the mall, Burbex spied on the pedestrians taking shelter from the rain. The old man below stood in the same position staring into space for at least ten minutes. Like the Mall itself, he wasn’t completely there.
Posters on the walls boasted that the centre cost one billion yuan to build…
… and that it was going to house KTV and Pawn Shops. Maybe the project would’ve been more succesful if it had concentrated on the other kind of “pawn”.
The massive floor space made Burbex a little dizzy, and he had to watch his step for the canals full of algae green water that snake through the place, razor sharp rusting rebar lurking beneath the surface.
By the way, if you are a mall rat or you want to check out some great abandoned malls like The Olympic Mascot Mall or The Great Mall of China just send Burbex an email at email@example.com and he’ll be happy to show you around.
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With Beijing developing so fast, it is easy to forget that just eight short years ago, Beijing hosted one of the most excessively opulent games that the world has ever seen. Those who have watched the recent Rio Olympics might be looking to China to see what might happen to Brazil’s own massive investments in their Olympic dream.
Apart from the Bird’s Nest, which is still thriving and attracting tourists even now, there are only a few dusty reminders of Beijing’s participation as an Olympic host. Like the Homko Olympic Ghost Town and the scattered Olympic mascots left to rot at Olympic Mascot Mall, most have been forgotten about.
There does remain one large location that stands out in plain sight, its bandages of advertising covering its decrepitude, one last Olympic venue beckoning urbexers from a distance. That place is The Olympic Volleyball Stadium.
Located within a five minute walk of the abandoned remains of Chaoyang Park Ferris Wheel, The Olympic Volleyball Stadium stands lonely in the middle of a large enclosed car park. Previously it had been the centrepiece of Chaoyang Park, but now it just rattles faintly in the wind as rusted pieces drop off.
Entering might be tricky for more portly urbexers, but Burbex was easily able to slither under one of the many gates that lead from the outside into the seating area of the main stadium. Burbex entered at midday as the sun was pouring down on the bleached sand which has miraculously stood up against the elements for the last eight years.
Burbex found that many of the steel walkways were rusting through, and the wooden boards of the media and atheletes stands have almost rotten away completely. Putting his foot through one rotten board, Burbex heard the dual growls of two mutts who rocketed out of the hole. One sprinted left and the other sprinted right, meeting minutes later on the opposite side of the stadium. Maybe a little bit of Olympic spirit had rubbed off on these stray mutts.
Vaulting the bars at the bottom of the stands, the sand is still as thick and tightly-packed as the day it was laid. Drowning in the sunshine, Burbex could only imagine what the Olympians must have felt playing in the Beijing heat. Some small holes lead underneath the stands where it is much cooler and stray cats bounce out of their hiding places in surprise.
Here are hidden the massive fans that are scattered across the stadium presumably to keep the crowds and the atheletes cool. They all feature our favourite Olympic Mascot Beibei, who was featured previously in the Olympic Mascot Mall post. Beibei was looking a little more worse for wear last time Burbex saw him, at least he is trying to look useful this time.
Adjacent to the waterpark in Chaoyang Park, the noise from children splashing down the water chutes, and hideous piped music floats over the edges of the stadium, but here all is quiet, peaceful, and serene, the perfect location for a lazy Sunday morning exploration.
The Olympic Volleyball Stadium is a great reminder that Beijing’s Olympic legacy has not yet disappeared completely, and with the Winter Olympics to be hosted in Beijing in 2022, Burbex will be interested to see what remnants will be left behind in the snow and ice.
With the Olympic twist and perfect location for exploration on a sunny day, Burbex is happy to give the Olympic Volleyball Stadium a firm B+. By the way, if you want to come along to any other Olympic-related sites like The Olympic Homko Ghost Town or The Olympic Mascot Mall, where you can catch up with some of your Olympic mascot heroes, just drop Burbex a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“sometimes to find your way, you have to lose yourself.”
This might as well be one of Burbex’s mottos. Most people who have come out with him before have noticed that Burbex has a pretty stellar sense of direction, weaving his way through the ruins of Capital Steel or Beijing Chemical Works, he always seems to be able to sniff out an elicit entrance or a sneaky exit.
It is true that Burbex does get lost sometimes. That is not completely true though, it is more like “getting turned around”. This was especially true at Longyan International Park, spiralling around in the labyrinthine darkness unable to surface. That in fact gave Burbex nightmares for a while. There are times however when a simple trip to the top turns into a puzzle.
Located in one of the more affluent neighbourhoods in Beijing, Lido is where all the foreigners can usually be found buying their imported grub and drinking at Irish bars. Looming over the neighbourhood are three twin sisters – Lido No. 10 Apartments. These expensive looking sisters were abandoned during construction and begged Burbex for a little attention.
The sisters are located next to the building site for a new subway station. Once the subway station opens, these apartments are going to skyrocket in value, which may be why the developers temporarily abandoned construction waiting for the prices to increase even further. Burbex wondered if the sisters would fall apart before the subway station opened. Burbex climbed through the abandoned workers area to get in passing a very tropical latrine.
Sneaking through the front doors of the middle building, Burbex followed the scattered building materials covered with the usual thick layer of grease attracting the dust.
Once down in the parking garage, Burbex got seriously confused. Exits led to dead-ends filled with weird pipes…
… and homemade stepladders.
An abandoned three-wheel truck stood rusting next to the exit surrounded by a veritable sea of rubbish.
After many false starts, Burbex eventually found his way into the darkened central staircase and began the broiling ascent to the top.
Stopping to explore every fifth floor, Burbex found that each has one enormous penthouse apartment and half a dozen smaller ones. Despite the smog that covered the city that day, the views were still quite impressive.
Stripped wire littered the floor in many places where scavengers have been through scavving copper. This is a sure sign the building had been abandoned Burbex thought.
Reaching the 20th storey, a quickly scrawled message read in Chinese: “don’t look at the process, just look at the results.” This must have been the motto of the migrant workers who built the place Burbex thought as he trod in an ancient turd.
One the shit was scrapped off his foot, Burbex finally made it to the roof. Two oval-shaped structures serve up the view on a plate.
Burbex was getting hungry and munched on a Nature Valley Granola Bar – the essential urbexing snack. Be careful though, all that fibre will make you do a big poop.
Three stout air ventilation ducts sprouted out of the uppermost summit of the roof. Throwing rusty bolts down the chutes, Burbex listened for their hitting the bottom, which took a good ten seconds.
Peering over the edge, Burbex could see the adjoining office building with an empty swimming pool on the roof. The small pond next to it stood out verdant green on the grey smog background.
More ventilation chutes were capped with metal chef hats.
Turning to leave, Burbex noticed a cement hand print on the wall. Was it waving goodbye or telling him not to come back again.
Back in the weird basement again, an uncanny green light permeated the darkness leaving Burbex feeling a little uneasy. With that feeling he made a bolt for the exit ramp.
Lido No. 10 is one of those strange sites that is just a hair’s breadth away from completion, but completely empty. Some of the penthouse suits at the top look phenomenal, but with the scattering of turds and used toilet paper, it could be anywhere. Burbex emerged from the underground labyrinth with a new sense of direction.
For these reasons and more, Lido No. 10 gets a more than respectable GRADE C+. So if you feel like you are lost, feel free to get in touch with Burbex and you can wander aimlessly in the dark in great locations like Sunshine Park or everyone’s favourite dark studio at Beijing Film Academy. Who knows, maybe you’ll finally see the light!
By the way, if you liked this post, please leave your comments at the bottom of the page and click the LIKE button. Be sure to join the Facebook Page and you can contact Burbex via email at email@example.com.
“It’s ironic that sometimes the very security features designed to keep people out, are the features I use to get in.”
In Beijing security is often just an illusion. The city may have the world’s most CCTV cameras, but is anybody watching them? Huge rusted locks snap open with enough pull, and the bars on the windows are great ladders up onto the roofs of buildings, which is exactly how Burbex got into Beijing’s legendary film sudios.
Fans may recall that in March Burbex posted pictures of Beijing’s historic film studios. You can check those at this link The Back Lot at Beijing Film Academy. Burbex was very pleased to receive a lot of emails about that post asking how to get in, but a little bit sad that mostly people got caught and kicked out by the lazy janitors. Burbex decided to pay another visit to the site, and even better managed to get into the main studios.
Beijing Film Corporation has been running since after the revolution in 1949, and has been renowned for pumping out streams of Communist propaganda movies, as well as the more recent <Kung Fu Kid> (also known as <The Karate Kid> in the USA) starring Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s son, Jaden.
The main gate is huge and green, with the blazing red logo painted on the front. That didn’t put off Burbex as he climbed the window bars to the flatroof avoiding the glances of the gang of stray dogs that live in the area.
Jumping down from the flatroof and into the main courtyard of the studios, you notice that there is one huge studio on the right and a labyrinth of three studios on the left. Below you can see the gates to the huge right-hand studio.
Inside the studio it is black as pitch, but Burbex brought along his new LED flash and lit up the whole space. In each corner, steps zig-zag up to the heavens, and even onto the roof of the studio. That was a bit too high even for Burbex.
Burbex decided to leave that for another day, and went back to the central courtyard to explore the smaller studios, which lay through another massive green gate.
Ad then on the inside, an internal gate with a massive warning not to smoke inside the studios.
Climbing the zigzag stairs in this studio, Burbex was glad that he had brought his mask, as the walls of the studio were lined with crumbling asbestos to fireproof the room. Once in the heavens though, there was a treat to be found.
Rows and rows of walkways hang high above the ground. The wooden boards are rotting and creaking, and the asbestos ceiling is falling in. With hands gripped tightly in the half darkness, Burbex made a run to the other side. Securely on the other side, peering down into the darkness you start to realise the scale of the studio.
These smaller studios are all connected, and the walkways lead from studio two right through to studio five at the end of the building. Between the studios are huge blast doors and rotting pipes.
Coming out of Studio Five, you enter into the the makeup department of the studios, which is definitely the most fun to be had here.
Each room has all kinds of weird objects and equipment left over from the movie business. Especially in the special effects and prosthetic department. There are Plaster of Paris heads everywhere.
Plus there is a very professional makeup department…
Could you really ask for more? Oh yeah! Uncle Fester’s head!
After all that excitement in that steaming hot studio, it was time for Burbex to leave the way he came into through the lucky green doors. He of course left it unbolted so that next time he doesn’t have to climb onto the roof again.
By the way, if you liked this, then be sure to check out the previous post about The Back Lot at Beijing Film Academy which is just next door, and also check out the whole set here on Flickr. Of course, if you want to come along to any other kitschy leisure sites like Floating Dragon Amusement Park or The Great Mall of China, be sure to send Burbex an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to urbexing in Beijing, or indeed anywhere in the world, there are certain features that urbexers search for. Some people go for the tunnels, some people go for the high places, others like a place with a good story. When you can find a site which combines all of these features and more, that’s when you know you have found a classic site.
Longyun International Park has all of these features and more. Burbex stumbled across this site by chance. Passing in a taxi from the airport, the top of a dome poked its way into the smoggy sky begging to be explored.
Scouting the outside perimeter there are Communist slogans encouraging citizens to be “civilised” and make Beijing a “centre of development”. Burbex took a knife to one of the slogans and cut his way through to the other side.
Plunging into the darkness beyond, underground canals snake their way hundreds of metres forward. Faint glints of light barely seen in the pitch black.
The frozen canals meander from left to right, and along the way there are plenty of unusual water features to be taken in. Small flags warn of the water’s edge like flashes of colour at the village fete.
Getting lost is inevitable in this underground labyrinth. Tunnels weave off in all directions, and circle around and around in circles. Only the lucky will find the Tiffany roofed exits.
These are the most heavily guarded areas though, and the security guards shout down curses at intruders but do not dare penetrate the labyrinth.
The inner dome is a smaller version of the first, and does not have the balconies or the grandeur of its big brother. It feels no less dangerous though.
The mouth of the canal leads out into a half-completed Suzhou style water garden. Missing the colour of flowers and trees, it is just a cement garden. From here though, the villas and the upper areas can be accessed.
Entering through the glassless windows, the villas are easily accessed. Running up the stairs and through unlocked doors, the rooftop dome yawns at the sky.
The beginning of this post mentioned a good story behind this location. According to local taxi drivers, it was shut down because of the death of several workers on the site. Due to this the Fengshui is now considered too bad to continue. This is a curse for construction companies who cannot battle against the entrenched superstition in China.
This is very similar to Chaoyang 81, which has remained empty for decades simply because of its ghostly reputation. Probably this site will be left to rot until it becomes too dangerous or too much of an eyesore for the local government to stand.
In retrospect this is the only site that has ever given Burbex nightmares, so maybe its ghostly reputation is true. Whatever the case, with or without ghosts, this is a first class site for urban exploration and earns a solid A-.
Don’t forget that no matter what your taste, from industrial sites like Jiaohua Chemical Works, to tall places like Guosen Towers, or ghostly locations like The Nationalist Hotel, or Chaoyang 81, Burbex is only an email away ready to help you on your way.