sleep pods interior

Hostile architecture is the term used for councils (and private companies) who put ‘spikes’ on park benches (or arm rests so that people can’t lie down to sleep) to deter homeless people from sleeping in parks and bus shelters. This  is a very lazy method of trying to help, as all it does is to make a homeless person suffer, who then presumably has to sleep standing up.

England alone has around 270,000 people registered homeless. Most people do not choose to live on the streets as it’s cold, boring and scary. Most people find themselves homeless due to family problems, mental health issues or falling behind with the rent/mortgage. Also read how to help dogs of homeless people.

Homeless people do qualify for benefits. Councils and shelters can download a free SWEP toolkit to create a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol to set up accommodation for winter (this includes dogs who live with rough sleepers – the best way to help is obviously to find dog-friendly accommodation for human guardians).

Architect James Furzer was so appalled that he created ‘homeless pods‘ (modular shelters that affix to existing buildings and are warm, clean and safe. The lightweight pods feature timber sleeping platforms to help homeless people who James says are often victims of theft and violent crime, and 10% of whom have even been urinated on. Made from scrap materials, they can even be made to match the colour of host buildings with stowaway ladders when not in use. He says the introduction of metal spikes on London streets is inhumane.

Artist Stuart Semple was so appalled when he spotted metal bars fitted to benches in his home town of Bournemouth, that he launched an anti-hostile architecture campaign to challenge bad planning and embrace more compassionate design choices. He says ‘They’ll be stealing homeless people’s bags next’. He calls hostile architecture inventions ‘horrendous designs against humanity’. Local people were very angry and within a week of a campaign, the metal bars were removed.

Recently, 3000 people signed a petition protesting against luxury store Selfridges installing spikes outside its premises. The store replied that the measure was to stop staff smoking, but others believe it was to stop homeless people bedding down for the night in doorways. A Tesco branch also had to remove deterrents, after complaints from local residents. And a block of London luxury flats had to remove hostile architecture, after a petition reached over 100,000 signatures. All were angry that councils believe homeless people are not welcome and ‘a problem to move on’, rather than actually doing something practical to help.

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