Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Alan Stanton.
Lately, however, I’ve found myself sitting on many cramped metal benches of the kind that don’t invite you to linger for long, or hard concrete benches that leave you cold. This is because public seating is becoming an endangered species. If a park bench is not removed, the backup plan is often aimed at making it uncomfortable. “Hostile architecture” – an urban design strategy designed to prevent “anti-social” behavior – is proliferating around the world.– The New York Times
Cities like San Francisco and Boston have quietly cut seats over the past decade as part of misguided efforts to limit outdoor sleep. Interventions such as anti-sleep benches and other forms of cruel deterrence targeting the homeless population have spilled into the public sphere.
Recently, the Seattle Art Museum sparked backlash by installing defensive architecture on its campus as part of an enhanced security plan drafted by director Amanda Cruz. The activist collective Design as Protest won this year’s Design Trust for Public Space RFP competition with an initiative that sought to create an alternative to politics. Other groups took action on their own. The New York Times‘Jonathan Lee offers here a defense of public seating.