Anti-loitering architecture forces the homeless out into the shame
Kristin Hohenadel’s Slate.com piece on “managing” London’s homeless (“Are Anti-Homeless Sidewalk Spikes Immoral?”) points to a Change.org petition that insists we give a damn about vulnerable populations rather than ostracize them with defensive architecture. The “spikes” that sparked the outrage>petition>renewed UK debate>this blog entry were installed near the entrance of a luxury residential building in London on June 10, 2014.
The article’s example pictures of “anti-bum” devices, culled from artist Nils Norman’s international collection, show a callousness that is not, to me, the least bit surprising. For years, I’ve referred to nasty urban planning designs like these as “MAN-EATERS” since they frequently resemble shark teeth. Here in Los Angeles, in a world of caged trash bins and spatial confinement of the homeless, we have a disheartening array of them.
We’re not alone, though: across modern urban landscapes everywhere, commercial and residential developers are planning and designing “exclusionary” access ways and loading docks to discourage the poor from setting up shop in doorways and “gap sites,” those architectural nooks and crannies that most of us sinners have been grateful to find at one time or another – usually when drunk. But let’s face it: in every one of us lurks a little NIMBY contradiction, the sentiment otherwise known as, “not in my backyard.”
Partiers are grateful to find a place to pee, sure, but don’t want to work near or pass through one of these stink-holes on a daily basis. (By the way, if anyone is offended by the implication that you’d ever urinate in an alley or between two buildings, please discontinue reading now. I make no guarantee your head won’t explode when I start mocking those who feel a moral playing field has been leveled, now that anti-pigeon science is being used on humans.) (more…)