Design and Violence


Kent Stainless

Beautiful deterrence

According to its manufacturers, the Kent Spike Stud “is used to deter people from unwanted sitting areas such as window sills and wall tops. Its spike-like design makes it a good deterrent but also not a sharp and dangerous object. The stainless steel material is ideal for high-traffic pedestrian areas and does not adversely affect the aesthetics of the elements they are protecting”.

In cities, certain uses of urban architecture are discouraged through the deployment of designed objects. Pigeons are deterred through spikes, kites or decoys that imitate predatory birds. Metal studs may prevent a skateboarder from using the edge of a railing to perform a trick. Spikes along the ledges of windows outside shops and institutions prevent people from sitting on them. Benches may be designed to be difficult to sleep on to discourage people experiencing homelessness from using them. These designs form part of an ‘architecture of control’ in which the ways we experience cities are via physical obstacles, sound, and legislation backed up by the threat of force. In these ways, we might say that cities have violence embedded in them by design, this can be referred to as ‘exclusionary’ or ‘hostile’ architecture.

Image courtesy of Kent Stainless.