An Artist Campaigns Against Anti-Homeless 'Hostile Design'

Bournemouth native Stuart Semple is intent on "naming and shaming the bodies who fund and install these things."

1 minute read

February 12, 2018, 11:00 AM PST

By Katharine Jose

Anti homeless bench

Laurie Avocado / flickr

The British artist behind the Happy City installation that will open in Denver this spring has launched a campaign against "hostile design" after his home city of Bournemouth fitted a few public benches with bars meant to keep the homeless from sleeping on them.

From The Art Newspaper:

"Hostile design–whereby public spaces are modified to deter certain activities such as rough sleeping and skateboarding–is a 'stealthy way of policing public space', Semple says. 'These designs legitimise the point of view that homeless people are the enemy. Instead they need support, often with addiction or mental health.'" 

Design intended to keep people without homes from settling in a given area is nothing new, but with an ongoing housing crisis in cities across the U.S., both "defensive design" and anti-homeless ordinances have and will continue to be topics of controversy. 

"Semple is launching his campaign,, later this week, which invites people around the world to send in their own photographs of such architecture. 'The website will become a database or archive of these immoral designs,' he says. 'By naming and shaming the bodies who fund and install these things, we might actually shift some of these prejudicial ideas.'" 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 in The Art Newspaper

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