The city – yours, ours, everybody’s – is filled with space, yet most people don’t stop to think just how much of that space is designed to control them. Some of it, like traffic lights, one-way signs and most road signs, serves a positive purpose. Lighting directs people to main streets and places where you can buy things. Steel barriers keep you from running onto the main road and control routes of traffic. Not saying that’s a bad thing, that’s just how it is.
Outdoor furniture determines whether you are invited to rest anywhere, and how you rest. Angled perches at bus stops discourage hanging out there too long. Metal spikes on ledges and doorways scream “do not sit”, “do not stand”, “go away”.
From benches you can’t actually sit on, to railings that look like the inside of iron maidens, to metal spikes that resemble rows of buttplugs, there’s a phrase for these structures – “defensive architecture”. The first word precludes some form of attack. The second refers to structures and the environment. But there is nothing defensive about structures like this. Laying these metal studs outside a property sends out a message, and it’s a downright aggressive and unfriendly one. “Sod off.”