Hostile Architecture

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What about when activity programs are governed by hostility? Hostile Architecture is often seen as a design strategy that opposes the comfortable use of public amenities. Interaction with seating, ledges, and awnings is managed not through disciplinary institutions but through diffuse elements of control (1). This control is accomplished with intentionally uncomfortable design features. Under a program to supposedly prevent crime and protect private property, hostile architecture targets vulnerable groups that rely on public amenities the most.

Spikes, bars, uneven platforms, lack of adequate seating, or the characteristics of public gathering space in general seek to deter convenient and comfortable occupation, discouraging positive self-identification and the possibility of place-making. Often overlooked as an inherently hostile element in the production of space, surveillance is also a form of hostile architecture in that it presents the potential of a public space to be used in a way that threatens its business-as-usual expectations.

1 Le, Phat and Benjamin de Boer. Meditations in Concrete II. Toronto: Grab a Slice Gallery, 2020. Print