Metro Cities: Citizens fighting back against hostile designs
The people have had enough of spiky benches and deceptive bike racks.
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For all the good design can do, there can be a dark side. A movement of activists, designers and artists are calling out so-called hostile design in our public spaces. The offending culprits range from the obvious to the more sinister — and people are pushing back with their own creative ideas.
BENCHED: One of the most obvious and common signs of hostile design is right under your butt. Obtrusive bars or overly narrow benches are not just uncomfortable for sitting, they make it near impossible to lie down. Anti-homelessness advocates call out spots like this for neglecting how people actually interact with their surroundings.
GRIND YOUR GEARS: The battle between skateboarders and cities is long and well-documented. Some places have opened glorious skate parks, while others continue to thwart the thrashers with spikes and bumps on fountains, curbs and benches.
RACK ATTACK: A new bike rack seems like a good news story for this stretch of Seattle street. But reporting in local publication The Stranger, and highlighted by 99 Percent Invisible, revealed that the racks were an effort to dissuade homeless people from camping out in the area and paid for with funds designated for homeless strategies.
STAIRS TO NOWHERE: New subway stations in Toronto had people oohing and awwing. But Cara Chellew noticed the staircases at the York University station are blocked by plants and essentially useless. Even if you did climb down, there’s not much to do. "Why bother creating the illusion of access," she wrote on Instagram, along with hashtag #hostiledesign. Chellew maintains a website, defensiveto.com, that documents examples for policy makers, activists, and anyone curious about the topic, she told Metro News in an email.
FIGHT BACK: Peruse the hashtag #hostiledesign to see people calling out these creations. British artist Stuart Semple calls it "design against humanity," and created a line of stickers that anyone can order and plaster on offending architecture.