bench-1

If you go to a certain park, you might notice that the culture of that park doesn’t involve people sleeping on benches. But of course, that’s only half right.

The culture here is reinforced an(d) disseminated through the built environment. These benches are part of the trend of Hostile Architecture that purposely limits certain uses; here the addition of a middle bar to the bench. People don’t lie down on the bench because the bench prevents it.

This is how culture preserves itself, and the truth is it is usually invisible to the people unaffected by it. That inability of people to spot structural elements like this is one of the reasons that recent discourse has focused on issues of privilege. Your privilege, as a person who is not homeless here, is not having to notice that middle bar is there, or that it matters. It’s the privilege of being able to say something like “Hey, homelessness in this city must be low — no one sleeps on the benches.”

Hapgood