Recently, on the way home to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains, I had to change trains at Springwood. It had been a long, tiring day, but were there any seats on the platform? No, just a bloomin’ rail to prop myself against!

Anti-humanity 'seat'  Not a design I'm happy with!
OH FOR HEAVEN”S SAKE!.

It made me think about public architecture on a wider scale, and how it’s increasingly perceived as hostile or exclusionary. Sometimes the idea is to avoid congestion by keeping us all moving, but more often it’s aimed against the homeless.

Hostile architecture London

Retrospective hostile design; just hack a bit out of the middle of the seat.

Hostile architecture

As at Springwood station, seats are being replaced with metal ‘perching’ bars at bus stops around the world;

A design to make sure people don''t 'sit' for too long.
MAKING SURE YOU WON’T STAY TOO LONG!

Makeshift seats are not to be used by the public. God forbid that anyone should sit on this little wall in the UK’s Reading…..let’s ensure they don’t.

KEEP OFF!

One day we will end up with something like this art installation….. seating only for those lucky enough to be able to pay for the privilege;

On the positive side, my Mountains village of Blackheath has the right spirt. Why waste a wall?

SEATS, NOT SPIKES!

Even better is this bench offering solar powered wi-fi and phone charging. Half a dozen were installed in London’s Islington in 2018. Now for the bad news. First up, there were problems over planning permission. Then the council decided that the seats might encourage vagrancy, or that thieves might target them to steal mobile phones. Sadly, they were removed.

The perfect design for public seating.
PERFECT- WHILE IT LASTED

GIVE ‘EM AN INCH AND THEY’LL TRY TO TAKE A MILE!

OK, you can sit, but you can’t lie down.

NOT JUST ARM RESTS!

I was horrified when my local railway station tossed out all the perfectly good seats along the platforms.

THESE LOOK FINE TO ME!

Guess what the plan behind the ‘upgrade’ was? Dividers!

Oh look, let’s pretend the anti reclining angles in this stone seat in London’s Camden are for aesthetic beauty;

A work of art or design that targets the homeless?
SCULPTURAL HOSTILE DESIGN SOLUTION.

Definitely no sleeping under this road bridge! The brutalist design solution.

THe brutalist approach to anti-homeless design

How ironic to use nature against humanity. Keeping people at bay with cactus filled alcoves outside a Spanish bank.

Hostile Design

The kinder alternative – alcoves in buildings at the Blue Mountains at Katoomba. Is it so bad that these delightful people are making use of them?

HAPPINESS IS HAVING A PLACE TO TAKE A BREAK

‘KEEP OFF’ DESIGN IS FOR THE BIRDS TOO, MATE!

Hostile design.
WELL THEY MGHT MAKE A MESS

I know people will put up well reasoned arguments in favour of these design trends, but I’m just not convinced.

7 Comments
  1. Thank you Pauline for bringing attention to this appauling trend! I am deeply disturbed by it! I used to feel sorry for the pigeons when I began to notice spikes on window sills & roofs of buildings. Now spikes are used to prevent the homeless from lying or sitting. Disabled or elderly
    people often need to sit, even for a short time.

  2. Yes it is straight forward to make things even harder for people who have it so hard already. Diabolical and inhumane.On a lighter note I recommend googling.. fake plaques on park benches. My favourite is. In memory of John Orme who hated this park and everyone in it

  3. Thank you Pauline for your thoughtful observations and photography.Yes it is basically inhumane making things difficult for people who are already having a hard time .On a lighter note you may know of fake plaques on park benches. My famous favourite ..is In memory of John Orme who hated this park and everyone in it.

    • Pauline

      Oh wow, I do love that plaque John. Haha. I must devise one for myself.

  4. This is great stuff Pauline. Thank you!

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