It often resembles something out of a cold, bleak dystopian fiction novel, but the fact of the matter is that anti-homeless architecture is a very true phenomenon. Spikes placed in doorways, bars fitted on to benches and seats which are slanted forward are just three examples of how architecture can be purpose built to add to the misery of the homeless.
A further example of this, which is also called hostile or defensive architecture, is sprinklers which come on intermittently to keep people away rather than actually water anything. It is cruel and unnecessary architecture which is reflective of a cold 21st century society in the UK.
As of December 2019, approximately 320,000 people were homeless in the UK. These are people who, within one of the richest economies in the world, should not be forced to live on the streets. Furthermore, they are people whose lives shouldn't be made even harder by the authorities who have (in many cases) not provided sufficient enough help to prevent them being on the streets in the first place. Of course, there are exceptions, but the reality is that homelessness should not be an issue in the UK in 2020.
The use of anti-homeless architecture is demeaning to those who are at their lowest. It often appears heartless, bland and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Each and every use of it signifies one more space where the homeless are not wanted by a society who obviously do not care if they live or die; as long as they do so out of sight somewhere.
Money which is used to install this kind of architecture, which is absolutely not necessary in 99% of the places it is installed, could be used to tackle the actual issue of homelessness. After all, homelessness is an issue which cannot be solved through spikes and narrow benches, no matter how many are scattered around shop fronts and parks. It is a waste of money which could be used giving accommodation and support to the people who are displaced by the most cruel and almost psychopathic architecture style.
The style is not reserved to the UK. Examples of anti-homeless architecture can be found around the world. In a newspaper article from 2018, one woman took a picture of a bench painted in the LGBT colours to promote ‘inclusivity’. The only problem is that arm rests were placed across it, discriminating against someone who may need somewhere to sleep when they have nowhere else to go.
Another modern idea which is seemingly another kick in the teeth of the homeless is individual restaurant and yoga pods which have been considered in some countries. The potential of someone being more accommodated in their work out than someone else is for a dry place to sleep is chilling and a horrible reflection of the true bleakness of capitalism as work.
Imagine being homeless and walking past a fully heated, cosy looking dome in the middle of the street and seeing it is merely being used for pilates? Any hope left in humanity would surely disintegrate.
Homelessness is a failure of a society. No nation can boast about being a great place to live if it fails to give so many of its people a place to live. Charities and organisations do so much to get people off the streets, but the fact is the use of anti-homeless architecture shows that they are receiving little sympathy from the authorities who have the resources to tackle homelessness at its root.