Skip links

Hostile architecture and the homelessness stigma

As the rates of rough sleepers surge, as does the disdain for homeless culture. There are around a quarter million homeless people in the UK. With such a large population of homeless people, it is obscene that there is still the stigma against this group. Care and consideration for the homeless has begun to rise as more people take a stand for their right to respect. However, both directly and indirectly people who are homeless still face a lot of discrimination. One public example of this is hostile architecture.

Hostile architecture is described on Wikipedia as “an urban-design strategy that uses elements of the built environment to purposefully guide or restrict behaviour.” This style of design often targets those who rely on public spaces, such as the homeless. Whilst there are justifications for these designs, it is often clear that the underlying intention is to block homeless people from having a safe space to sleep. 

One example of this are the arm rests separating sections of a bench. These can be implemented to help elderly people get up from their seat, however they also prohibit people from lying down on the bench and sleeping there. Another example are the spikes on the ground underneath overpasses, without which these spaces could be used for shelter.

Whether or not you agree with the way the government and private bodies handle homelessness, I hope that this opens your eyes to some of the simplistic ways and seemingly innocent ways in which homeless people are excluded from modern society. By highlighting some of these examples around our local area we can help others to realise that this is not an acceptable way to treat our fellow citizens. The importance of awareness and understanding of these issues is the first step in acknowledging that not everyone benefits from modern architectural advances. We cannot leave anyone behind due to our own ignorance, negligence and downright prejudice against certain people within our communities.

People suffering from homelessness are not a stain on society and don’t deserve to be treated as such.

By Olivia Hall

Leave a comment