Hostile Architecture: The Design of a Heartless Society

Photo by Trent Legaspi | The Signal

Hostile architecture has become the face of 21st century city designs because it serves heartless city counsels well and puts a bandage on a problem that they aren’t willing to solve. Every person living in a modern American city probably knows what hostile architecture is even if they aren’t familiar with the term. Hostile architecture are city designs in public areas that are meant to keep the unsheltered citizens away from those areas. Hostile architecture can be seen in public benches with installed armrests to prevent individuals from sleeping on them, slanted/curved public benches, fences, spikes, and grates under bridges and corners of streets. Hostile architecture is becoming more prevalent nowadays and that makes me wonder who is funding them? Behind every hostile architecture design there is a group of city planners/ urban designers that have had a meeting and discussed the type of hostile architecture to install in a specific place. It disturbs me how they sit in their comfortable offices and intentionally set funds aside to plan and execute projects that harm the already vulnerable population. 


In the defense of many city councils and urban planners, they named hostile architecture “defensive architecture.” This phrase baffles me because who are they defending against? The vulnerable population that they have failed to take care of? If the sight of unsheltered citizens using those public spaces bothers the city that much, then why not invest in programs that help those individuals get off the streets instead of turning a blind eye on those populations and alienating them further. Hostile architecture sends the message of “you are not welcomed in here” to the unsheltered citizens. The unsheltered individuals in this country have been cast aside for decades. They are barely mentioned in congress and when they are mentioned, a small amount of money is pushed towards cities to aid them. Some money will be sent to homeless shelters, but shelters aren’t a solution, they are a bandage to a centuries old problem. Many unsheltered citizens feel safer sleeping in public streets than in a shelter due to the low level of security provided by those underfunded shelters. 


Hostile architecture harms all of us in different ways. I see it as a waste of taxpayers’ hard earned money and a ruthless measure that goes up and beyond in casting aside members of our community. With our unstable housing crisis and economy in general , many of us are a few steps away from becoming homeless. And I am 100% sure none of us would like to be treated in this way. Instead of investing in hostile architecture, why not get to the root of the problem and invest more in affordable housing throughout the state of Georgia? We need to have more conversations with our unsheltered citizens and invest more in rehabilitating them and integrating them back into society instead of excluding them out with hostile architect. 

We as a society including the local, state, and federal government have failed the unsheltered citizens populations. The least we can do is allow them to sleep in public infrastructure comfortably and stop this hostile infrastructure madness.