What is defensive architecture?
Defensive architecture is an intentionally restrictive design meant to limit or eliminate mobility on a public structure. In some cases, designs are plainly hostile and create either discomfort or danger for long term laying or sitting. For example, metal spikes, studs, or broken glass may be installed around flat surfaces that could be used as temporary shelter. Defensive architecture can also be masked as privacy-enabling or artistic choices. For example, cities commonly divide public benches with armrests and install protruding sculptures around fountains. In all cases, these structures make it impossible for an individual to lay down safely. Defensive architecture directly targets unhoused community members by refusing access to public spaces.
what can we do to advocate for change?
Whether it be to a large audience, or to your immediate family, advocacy can take many forms. The ability to advocate for change begins with understanding and education. By educating ourselves about the impacts of hostile architecture, we as a community are able to develop a deeper understanding of the barriers faced by folks who experience housing insecurity . Hostile architecture perpetuates a divide amongst those who do and do not have access to necessary resources. By educating one another, and using our voices for change, we all can become advocates. Below are phone numbers for Los Angeles city officials in which we can call to demand change. Those experiencing homeless who call Los Angeles their home should not have to feel like they do not belong, and by voicing our opinions, we can change the status quo.
Additionally, neighborhood councils hold monthly meetings in which they allow those within the community to voice their concerns to those who make decisions on neighborhood businesses, infrastructure, and ordinances. UCLA and its surrounding community is governed by the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, which meets on the first Wednesday of each month, at 7:00PM. By attending these meetings, we conceptualize that our concerns directly impact the citizens these councils are made to serve, strengthening our position as advocates within the community.
Los Angeles Mayor - Eric Garcetti office : (213) 978-0600
Los Angeles 1st District office:
Los Angeles 2nd District office:
Los Angeles 3rd District office :
Los Angeles 4th District office:
(213) 974 -4444
Los Angeles 5th District office:
Alex Andreou states that “by making the city less accepting of the human frame, we make it less welcoming to all humans. By making our environment more hostile, we become more hostile within it.” Our environment shapes and mirrors our values. Defensive architecture may or may not affect our personal use of public spaces, but it does speak miles on how we treat and view homelessness. We hope you find this resource helpful in understanding the impact of defensive/hostile architecture in the context of homelessness and that it empowers you with the tools to advocate for change.