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  • How is design being used to deter ‘undesirables’?
  • How is design being used to deter ‘undesirables’?
    Sascha Kohlmann, Creative Commons (2013) ©
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How can unpleasant design shape behaviour?

Defensive urban architecture is everywhere – if you know what you’re looking for. Specially designed window ledges, park benches and streetlights aim to influence behaviour in public spaces, but at what cost? And do these unpleasant creations unfairly target some people more than others?

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Unpleasant design is everywhere, subtly influencing our behaviour without us even realising; it can be seen in studded window ledges, paint-resistant walls and unflattering pink lights outside of corner shops. Depending on your perspective, you might call it defensive architecture, or simply hostile. Designs that are unpleasant to some are put in place to make everything more pleasant for others – and the latter category might include you. It’s why park benches and bus stops aren’t comfortable, why you can’t lie across seats at the airport, and why lights in public toilets are blue.

In 2012, peculiarly-shaped concrete blocks ...

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