Has this ever happened to you? You’re on a lunch break, it’s hot, the sidewalk smells like raw eggs again, you hate your life, and you just want to sit on a bench and dip your fries in your milkshake before retuning to your air-conditioned cubical purgatory.
Except when you sit down on your chosen public park bench, it pokes you in the ass with A BUNCH OF SPIKES because you didn’t give it a quarter? According to many international cities, only homeless people and other unsavory demographic groups have any desire to sit on a public park bench for free.
Cities such as London, Tokyo, and New York, to name just three, are beginning to “design against” the groups they don’t want to see in public anymore. Who are these groups? The homeless, the poor and marginalized, skateboarders, and, of course, teenagers — the absolute worst group of humans to ever casually strut this Earth.
Public domains are now even broadcasting “anti-teenager sound deterrents.” Which are what? You might be wondering. High-quality audio recordings of their parents having sex? Although that’s a much better idea, places like supermarkets and train stations have chosen totally un-cool classical music and mysterious mosquito-like bee-boop noises that apparently “only teenagers can hear” in order to deter this greasy, awful age group.
A housing estate in Nottinghamshire even had pink outdoor lights installed because pink highlights acne. Apparently, only teenagers get zits!
In other soft-colored news, blue lighting is being used in many public restrooms in order to deter heroin enthusiasts from shooting up. The reasoning is that veins are harder to see in blue light because veins are, duh, also blue. I’m not speaking from experience or anything, but if I wanted to get high on some seriously powerful drugs, a blue disco-themed bathroom would seem like a superb place to do it. Also, newsflash, heroin is highly addictive. A simple blue light is not gonna stop that train.
Conduct a basic Google Search and you will find some pretty horrific examples of “pig ears” (metal slats designed to trip up skaters), “anti-sit devices” (spikes like the ones mentioned earlier, similar to the spikes designed to keep pigeons from roosting) and other “defensive architecture.” China even has some pay-by-the-minute park benches, while Tokyo and London have benches that are too wavy or awkwardly sloped to lie down on.
These hostile forms of architecture are seeing a little bit of resistance. For instance, London’s mayor Boris Johnson called for the immediate removal of some anti-homeless spikes that were installed outside a luxury apartment block in June.
Spikes outside Southwark housing development to deter rough sleeping are ugly, self defeating & stupid. Developer should remove them ASAP.
— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) June 9, 2014
Some skateboarders got together in London to see if they could skate a Camden Bench, a structure designed specifically against them with its sloping sides, a supposedly “impossible” bench to skate. They filmed this video, proving that skateboarders are not only very sexy but very skilled at their craft:
Check out more examples of anti-skateboarding architecture in London:
What ever happened to enjoying a city’s public places? Sitting on a bench and people watching while reading a good book? Now we have to endure dehumanizing architecture, proving that even our cities want us to look a certain way, publicly act a certain way, and sit a certain way (for a certain amount of time). What has society come to if its citizens are being poked, prodded, corralled, and controlled by their own architecture?
Take a closer look around your city and you might notice these sometimes subtle designs right under your nose, directing you and everyone else on how to live a “normal” life.