Defensive Architecture

Bus bench with "armrests" to prevent lying down

What Is Defensive Urbanism?

If you’ve ever noticed a public bench split in half by a metal bar, or a series of seemingly ornamental boulders blocking the sidewalk under a high-rise overhang, you’ve seen what is often described as defensive urbanism or ‘hostile architecture.’

December 12, 2022 - Diana Ionescu

Freeway Underpass Encampment

Boulders to Replace Rose Bushes in ODOT Effort to Inconvenience the Homeless

The Oregon Department of Transportation anticipates spending about a million dollars to bring boulders to road embankments so that they are less hospitable to the homeless.

June 24, 2019 - KGW

McCoppin Hub

San Francisco Debates an Anti-Homeless Fence

The deployment of so-called defensive architecture is in the news again. This time the controversy is in the public realm, as San Francisco considers a fence to keep homeless out of McCoppin Hub.

July 29, 2016 - Curbed SF

Innovations in Street Furniture Reflect New Approach to Public Space

After a tour of Los Angeles street furniture, Alissa Walker offers her reflections on cities' changing approach to public space.

July 26, 2016 - Curbed

Lessons from Baltimore: Civic Action, Not Defensive Architecture, Needed

Baltimore was only beginning to undo the ill effects of the architecture and planning response to the riots of 1968 when the protests and unrest of 2015 struck. Can the architecture field produce a more positive response to violence this time?

May 5, 2015 - Architect Magazine

The Resurgence of Anti-Homeless Policy and Design

A report by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley tracks the proliferation of vagrancy laws in the Golden State. Meanwhile, The Guardian notes the spread of so-called "defensive architecture."

February 19, 2015 - Social Science Research Network

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HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

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