Cities all across the world are filled with uncomfortable benches that are actually created to be uncomfortable. Most of these benches are made with armrests and uncomfortable material because designers say that benches aren’t intended to be yours forever. This type of architecture and urban planning is known as defensive design, which focuses on moderating behavior to limit the ways an object can be misused. Defensive design creates benches as resting places to sit on, while also preventing people from getting too comfortable by utilizing armrests and short back rests. This worldwide trend isn’t seen just in city benches, because defensive design is used all over cities.
When you start looking for defensive design in New York City, you’ll find examples everywhere. Security cameras, turnstiles, random knobs, streetlights, and even sprinklers are all designed to protect public property from being damaged by users. Streetlights are actually the most recognizable defensive design because when they were first created, more people spent time outside at night, which drove economic development and a reduction in crime. These lights prove that defensive design helps prevent crime and damage to public property, even though many characterize it as “hostile”.