Are Hostile Designs actually promoting the public reservation on a daily basis?

Hostile Architectures can deter crime, it can prevent the damaging of public properties, and it can limit loitering. Nevertheless, it's not just designed for the positive side, but also negative sides.

Its other purpose can be implicit, or sometimes explicit. The major argument against Hostile Design is the consequences caused to its "prey", the people confronting homelessness.

When people get frustrated or annoyed by the design, it can really bring up a debate and sensitivity point about it. This is the homepage of a website you would most likely notice if you search up the term: Hostile Designs. It's not a description or informational website, nor an advertisement, it's a website encouraging and convincing people to boycott against this concrete design trend. The website demonstrates a very strong desire for ending the hostile architectures. It holds that they are made specifically to exclude, harm or hinder the freedom of a community from a public space. As stated before, the prey of these design trends are certainly the homeless ones.

The crisis and issues

As everyone acknowledges, whether it's a Camden Bench, spikes near a house, public lightings or an uncomfortable leaning bar, they are all considered to target a specific community: The Homeless people. City officials wouldn't want the homeless ones hanging around the public spaces in the night, whether implicit or explicit, many believe that the invention of Hostile Design is just an innovative way of eliminating the people who are experiencing homelessness out of the major public areas explicitly. Critics argue that this would cause a clearer social division, they are also releasing an opposed deliverance: You are not welcome here. Some examine that urban designs should be gathering people together, engaging and collaborate rather than a cold coarse place excluding others.


Although the overall homeless population of the United States is shrinking, in a city ample of hostile designs, the population has been expanding yearly. This might imply how the amount of homeless population may vary the urban architects of the city.

As shown, the homeless population in New York City has been almost doubled since 2005, and as recorded by the NYC Street Survey | NYC Department of Homeless Services, approximately 2000 people have been sleeping in the subway daily, and that's because emergency shelters aren't always a reliable option. Hostile Designs produces the opposite effect of what should be courage. Instead of finding a solution, building more inclusive city designs, the architects are promoting hostile designs to exclude the ways a homeless person may practice in order to seek a way to survive. This is a major part of why the design trend provoked outrage on people. 

Here is a presentation in TEDx talk, by Cara Chellew, clearly explaining the negative impacts this design trend made on cities, in this speech mostly about Toronto.  Personally, one part really inspired me, she illustrated a hostile architecture as a person with a target, a function, and a message. Its target was the people who were homeless, its function was to prevent them from lingering, and its message was: You are not welcome here.

© 2019 By Ray Cheng

  • YouTube
  • Instagram

Proudly created with