What is Hostile Architecture?
Hostile Architecture, also known as anti-homeless architecture, is a designing strategy that discourages people from lingering in public places in an attempt to decrease unencouraged behavior. In fact, many town councils have mandated architects to include hostile architecture, such as adding divisions on benches or removing seats in new constructions. Hostile architecture is an everyday sight in big cities, from divisions on benches, to metal spikes on surfaces to prevent skateboarding.
Causes of Hostile Architecture:
Hostile Architecture has been used since the 19th century in England, when concrete slabs were put around corners so people could not urinate in public. Furthermore, hostile agriculture became introduced in American cities in the 1980s- 1990s, and focused on making it difficult to sleep, stand, wait, or sit in public; it was first implemented to prevent people from spending a lot of their leisure time outdoors, in an attempt to decrease crime.
Effect of Hostile Architecture:
The homeless are disproportionately affected by hostile architecture because places where they could have previously found shelter, such as benches, now have bars separating the seats, making it very hard to sleep on. This architectural strategy excludes the homeless from public spaces, but they do not have other buildings or areas designated to accommodate them. So, not only does hostile architecture displace homeless individuals, but also criminalizes those who seek shelter in public places.
How we can help:
Hostile Architecture does not create an effective solution to homlessness, and if the homeless cannot be provided food, water, jobs, shelter, or transportation, the least they can have is a bench to rest on. This form of design is also a major misuse of resources in urban areas. Hostile architecture is hard to reverse, but petitioning and bringing the attention of local politics is a step in the right direction! Also, continuing to read articles, watch videos, ask experts, and talk to other people are great ways to continue educating ourselves and spreading awareness about an issue that is most definitely not discussed enough.
Petitions: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/homesnotstones/, https://www.change.org/p/your-local-legislation-people-against-hostile-architecture
Bhavya is a sophomore at Basis Scottsdale in Arizona. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing the piano, baking, and volunteering at various non profits. She is passionate about reaching a status of equality for all people, and hopes to help spread awareness to the youth.