Berlin workshop tomorrow on "Unpleasant Design": urban design that bullies its users


With a little wriggling, the arms on that bench make it impossible to fall off. Hat! Take THAT asshole bench-designers!


Almost all benches in truly public* spaces are designed to prevent lying down although it is usually more subtle.

(* i.e. without a security guard ready to shoo you away)

1 Like

Unpleasant design… hmm, Windows 8?


There are plenty of benches that make it hard to sit, but this isn’t one of them. They should be hard for a homeless person to sleep on. Benches are for multiple people to sit on, not for one person to sleep on. Sleeping on a public bench is the same as putting your bags on the seat next to you on public transportation.


As someone who has slept on benches for that very reason more than once, can I be the first to point out the ‘selfish asshole’ nature of your post? others will be along soon.


I’d say the sight of folks taking naps on benches says something good about a place.


Some places are less subtle about it. When I was in Europe, I saw what could only be described as “vagrant stabbers”, big nasty-looking sharp metal spikes jutting out of concrete window ledges to prevent them from being slept or even sat on. Bath is the city that first comes to mind, but I saw them elsewhere, as well.

They are more likely to be for keeping pigeons off. Speaking as someone who has a penultimatehouse apartment in the middle of a city, ‘Pigeon Stabbers’ are a fine invention.


I’ve seen the sort of pigeon spikes you’re talking about, and I don’t think these were for the same purpose. They were much larger, only on windows reachable from street level, and had room enough for birds to perch between them.

EDIT: Here’s a picture.


Ah, right. Well, now. What a bunch of dicks. The south-west’s normally quite a pleasant, tolerant place as well in my experience. Boo.

Or heaven forbid if some ‘selfish’ person doesn’t feel well and could really use a lie-down for a moment. Or maybe some emo-type like me decides he really really REALLY needs to lay his head down on his sweetheart’s lap just for a minute to make the demons go away. Come to think of it, not once have I ever passed someone lying down on a bench and thought to myself “that selfish bastard!”


resting place for advanced fakirs ?


the first time i saw them (on train stations), i liked them because i don’t like beeing close to strangers and the handles at least hint at a little privacy.

Then i realized what they really are about…

Maze lock can be used in public toilets, bars and restaurants to avoid drunkards entering the toilet and passing out or damaging the property.

It can also be used to encourage drunk people to just piss on the door.


You get benches like that at airports too. When it’s quiet and you have a long time to wait, they’re really frustrating. I usually end up stretching out on the floor.

1 Like

But then you can have them arrested for indecent exposure! Everyone wins! …Right?

The hostility and distrust of the world towards strangers these days is enough to drive one to drink.


If my memory serves me properly, the photographed spikes are on the actual baths, yes?

If so, I think they’re more a “Don’t clamber on the soft sandstone of our main tourist attraction” measure, as the city is actually pretty good at providing non hostile benches.

That’s not to say that the situation there is all 100% OK, though. Homelessness was a fairly big problem there when I knew the city.

1 Like

I guess those are airports that never get snowed in - or any other kind of disaster.

1 Like

I am reminded of what used to be called Franklin Park near where I used to live in Hollywood (now it’s called The Dorothy J. and Benjamin B. Smith Park, no doubt due to the largesse of some anonymous benefactor or benefactors unknown). It’s a pretty tiny park a short walk from the Dolby Theatre where they hold the Oscars. They’ve got a couple of weirdly-shaped concrete benches wherein people sitting next to each other are obliged to face in opposite directions. Not bad for loners who don’t want to feed the same pigeons their neighbor is feeding, but obviously designed to thwart bench-sleeping. I hate those benches.