Unpleasant Design – When Bad Design is Used to Hide Problems – Extra Credits


Before we start, big thanks to Ethan Richie and Gem Williams for handling the art for us this week. In September of 2017 the City of Seattle placed 18 shiny new bike racks underneath a bridge that was slated for demolition in less than a year. Why? Unpleasant design. Intro Music Today’s topic is kind of a heavy one. It’s less about game design than design in general. And it serves to remind us of the power and the danger of design. Unpleasant design, also often referred to as hostile architecture, Is the practice of excluding a group of people from a space in such a way that most people won’t even notice. It’s exclusionary design. In Seattle’s case the bike racks weren’t put there for bicyclists, they were put up so that homeless people couldn’t camp under the bridge. These racks were literally rushed in right after the police came and swept a group of people out of one of the few dry places left to stay in the city as we entered the heavy rains of early winter. And they were put there so citizens wouldn’t have to have the burden of denying people a dry place to sleep on their conscience. Most people wouldn’t even give much thought to why those bike racks were put there. It would just seem like the city had added some bike racks. and thus people wouldn’t have to experience the distress of thinking about what happens to all the people who previously lived there, and wouldn’t complain about it. This is an incredibly common municipal practice. If you’ve ever been in a bus stop with one of those leaning benches, just sort of a rail along the side of the thing instead of a proper bench, that is there for the same reason: so people can’t sleep there. You would be surprised how much money and energy go into hostile design. the Camden bench is an example from London of an expensive replacement for a standard bench whose primary features are that it is angled in such a way that it is impossible to sleep on or skateboard across. And if you’ve ever wondered why there are weird metal flanges on architecture, like these in the Embarcadero in San Francisco, or these in London, those are not an aesthetic choice. They are there to keep people from skateboarding along it. Or, if you’ve ever been in a public bathroom lit with weird blue light and wondered why that is, those lights are there to make it harder for drug users to find a vein. Sometimes it’s even simpler than that. If you’ve ever been to a store in a popular area and for some reason they’re all playing what you would consider to be bad country, classical, or opera music, this is often an attempt to make the spot less “cool” so young people won’t hang out near there. Heck, there is even a system called a Mosquito that’s been installed in a number of places that, theoretically, makes a buzzing noise too high-pitched for anybody over 25 to hear. Unpleasant design isn’t new, though. It goes way back. In the 1800s in Norwich, they didn’t have enough public restrooms and public urination became a problem. But instead of immediately installing more public restrooms, they started to build the walls of buildings so that they were sloped in just such a way that anybody trying to pee on them would have it splash back on their clothes. Today, from Cologne to San Francisco, we use hydrophobic paint instead. Then there are the subtler examples. in terminal 5 of Heathrow there are far too few seats for the number of people passing through. But there’s lots of seating in the shops So if you want to sit, you had better be able to afford to hang out at the restaurants. And if you can’t afford it, well, discomfort might drive you in there anyway But the vast majority of unpleasant design is targeted at the homeless. If you’ve ever seen benches with unnecessary arm rests, piles of rocks to break up flat surfaces in an architectural design, Or just those random little nubbins along windows, stoops or the sidewalk, those all exist to keep people from sleeping there, or even from just staying there for too long. If you’ve ever sat on a bench with all of those little random micro holes, Those are there for the same reason: to make the bench colder so people don’t rest there for too long. The problem with this kind of stuff is that, rather than address any of the root causes of homelessness, the goal of this design is to address the fact that many people are uncomfortable with seeing homelessness. It’s not concerned with why that makes us uncomfortable. It’s not concerned over whether maybe we should be uncomfortable, not with homeless people, but with homelessness itself. Unpleasant design devotes large amounts of money to allow us to go about our pleasant lives and blissfully ignore problems, allowing those in charge of solving those problems to simply sweep them under the rug rather than confronting them or actually trying to find the solution. It takes resources that could be used to actually address those issues and spends them instead helping us put those issues out of mind. It’s pretty unconscionable. There is a small ray of hope here though, because when people are made aware of what those types of design are meant to do, they tend to rebel against it. every time the populace actually realizes what’s going on, there are all sorts of efforts made to render those unpleasant designs benign, From mattresses thrown over anti homeless spikes to people cutting the unnecessary arms off of those benches Humanity as a whole tends to be better than the politicians who deploy these things. and those bike racks I mentioned in Seattle? A citizen who realized what was going on put in a public information request about them. It turns out they were absolutely there for no other reason than to deter the homeless, and the emails acquired from the public information request got passed to one of the local papers. The populace was outraged when they found out, and they flooded the mayor’s office with demands to have them removed. Recently it was announced that those bike racks would be taken out. Hopefully, they should be gone before this episode goes live Thank you very much for sticking with us for this episode, I know it wasn’t about games, but this stuff is still really important. It’s important to our world, our cities, and the way we see the space we live in. And it’s also important to an understanding of design, because design should be about solving problems, not hiding them. See you next week. Outro Music

100 comments

  • Extra Credits

    In September of 2017, the city of Seattle placed 18 shiny new bike racks underneath a bridge that was slated for demolition in less than a year. Why? Unpleasant design. What lessons can we take away from this to apply to our games?

    Reply
  • Maximinius Thrax

    I kno an ffvii track wen I hear 1

    Reply
  • Nate Irick

    Lol

    Reply
  • Goyon Man

    Funny
    I don't blame them for the bike racks
    It's clever strategic

    Reply
  • Titania Dragonburn

    In the Incredibles 2, Dicker said “politicians don’t like people who do the right thing just because it’s good. Makes them nervous.” 👌

    Reply
  • Tyler Ferrell

    To hell with homeless

    Reply
  • Zatchary Belltucker

    When this video reaches 8 Billion views…

    Da world will know peace!

    Reply
  • Zshjohn Clark

    I appreciate the information and the desire to educate others about such problems.

    Reply
  • Titania Dragonburn

    Why do politicians even still do this? I think it was made pretty obvious that people don’t like the idea of it.

    Reply
  • Imperial

    I agree it's a problem seeing anti homeless features. My town is very very poor and has then everywhere and instead of helping the poor they treat them like shit and police harrass them. If I knew how to become a politician just to cry the loudest about the injustice I would.

    Reply
  • Seth Glover

    Here in New Zealand unpleasant design has made Auckland an unpleasant place to hang out or have lunch in the park. Sad, huh?

    Reply
  • tsartomato

    haha moscow uber alles

    Reply
  • Viking Teddy

    I'm a recuperating drug addict. I used to shoot up in blue lit bathrooms all the time. I don't know where that dumb idea came from, they don't work.

    Reply
  • Yoav Sigler

    It's there a video specifically about unpleasant design in video games? I wonder how you can use it in order to alter the player's experience depending on choices and narrative.

    Reply
  • ajjr70 the USAF trainer

    There is a lot of human suffering in this channel

    Reply
  • Mr. Man

    I just made this and I don’t know where else to brag so I’m going to random videos and commenting this

    😂 😂
    😂 😂
    😂
    😂 😂
    😂 😂

    😂😂😂😂😂
    😂 😂
    😂😂😂

    Reply
  • SansyMansy 2.0

    4:10 EMPATHY

    Reply
  • Gem Generations

    City : adds bike racks
    Someone : learns what’s its meant for and tells everyone
    Everyone: megalovania starts playing

    Reply
  • Blue Bro

    will there be any more extra history episodes

    Reply
  • awald5

    What have we learned?

    1. All Cops Are Bastards, especially your cool uncle who you think is one of the good ones.

    2. Capitalism would rather have houses without people and just sweep them under the rug than dare to confront the inequality inherent to the system.

    Reply
  • Scarlet Jester

    They sure would spend money getting ride of homeless then actually helping them, which could be cheaper by comparison

    Reply
  • Rosicalina Gacha

    i would really slap the mayor's face if he wont give jobs or build homeless centers OR JUST FREAKING HELP THOSE PEOPLE IN NEED

    Reply
  • Zzul Ma

    Sidewalks are horrible too or none existing in some cities. I have to walk on the bike lane sometimes because there is no sidewalk on any side of the street and the cars pass very close. And people with disabilities or a wheelchair must have a worse time walking close to the traffic.

    Reply
  • Justin

    All complaints, no solutions from you either, hm.

    Reply
  • Ezra Estrello

    I don't think the blue light think is a problem, but everything else? yeah that's some bogus

    Reply
  • pseudonym711

    Drug users find veins through feel not vision. My nurse taught me that…

    Reply
  • Travis Boutell

    3:03 You will never be able to burn this from your memory ever again

    Reply
  • 85 Gaming

    I don’t live in a city

    Reply
  • Gabriel LaVedier

    Having lived in an area with homeless people literally crapping in the streets and camping in dark niches right beside blind corners I can say this… congrats on never having to face practical reality and immediate necessity and always having the languid luxury that comes from never vomiting over the smell of feces and seeing these issues as abstracts of statistics and distant savior narratives as opposed to issues for people economically pushed to be there. I'd relish some Camden benches and nubbly things.

    I wish at least some hippies would break ranks and start chanting "Practical reality! Practical reality!" Weed's legal now. We have weed. Come on. Weed and practical reality anyone?

    Reply
  • Elliott Van Tonder

    In the government hospitals here in South Africa, they have those chairs with the holes in them in the waiting rooms. Considering that an average trip to see a specialist involves about 8 hours of sitting on such a hostile surface, it's no wonder I often skip appointments or getting my meds out of anxiety for sitting in line. Are govt hospitals designed similarly elsewhere in the world?

    Reply
  • Theo Schuh

    2:15
    It’s the little things that make something great

    Reply
  • Brooke Ford

    Who is watching this in seattle?

    Reply
  • Riche Bright

    This shows what is perhaps the biggest flaw in democracy: The skills needed to get elected to office have nothing to do with the skills needed to be an effective and compassionate leader.

    Reply
  • ThePurpleDuckala [Official]

    But bad design is a problem

    Reply
  • Andrew Mitchell

    God damned
    HOSTILE ARCHITECTURE

    Reply
  • El Dub

    Also. Cities over water their parks grass at night, to rid it of homeless people.

    Reply
  • baabaa9000

    Could the racks have been there for safety? The bridge was going to be demolished, after all. The others are obviously there for unpleasant design, but that seems like it could have had a legitimate safety purpose.

    Reply
  • stash fan

    Why is that drug one a bad thing?

    Reply
  • Yahia El-Araby

    This is immoral

    Reply
  • urahara64360

    Honestly this seems very much a solution from surface level thinking which seems more and more common these days.

    Reply
  • Uriel238

    Oh but it was about games. Or at least relevant to them, when every last AAA game is being released with an internal market to sell microtransactions, and to be sure, games are getting more tedious, sloggier and uglier until the end-user shells additional money for in-game swag. Unsuspecting players are finding themselves thousands of dollars in the hole thanks to microtransactions in games they already bought at full retail.

    I can't allow myself to look forward to any AAA games announced, because the final version may not be playable in its release form having been engineered to antagonize players until they pay more and more.

    Antagonistic design is in all the things now. This is the cyberpunk dystopia we ordered.

    Edit: Formatting

    Reply
  • Monroe Robbins

    When I heard about this, me and a friend of mine started working on this small project; you know how people cut up plastic bags, make it into string for crocheting? Well, she and I started crocheting mats out of them, so homeless people can lay down on benches or the ground more comfortably. Two birds, one stone. Highly recommend. (I’m not saying this for clout, just to lampshade real fast. I’m saying this so people can have an idea on what they can do themselves to help)

    Reply
  • Ismael Gonzalez

    Some girls did something similar to this to me because I used to pick my nose.

    Reply
  • Beans4000

    We plan to cut all homeless people in half by 2020

    Reply
  • The Spanish Armada

    Ya'll puttin more money into your murder designs more than aising funds to poor people and the homeless.

    Reply
  • anti bully

    bogus my dude

    Reply
  • terrahawk2003

    Regulate the costs of living and the homeless problem will ease

    Reply
  • Pikagirl541

    A smart government would use the money to build homeless shelters instead. Or you know, fix the fucking economy so a) more people can find jobs and b) one full time minimum wage job is enough to prevent homelessness.

    Reply
  • isaiah wolftail

    GREEKTRUE ANY TRUERS IN THE CHAT.

    Reply
  • Eric Kugler

    For the cost of these 'solutions' you can just provide housing. But that makes people feel less superior.

    Reply
  • Jedijazz4

    We love engineering and design videos regardless of focus. Keep it up.

    Reply
  • Mic N.

    4:56 FINALLY, some recorces for my epic gamer house

    Reply
  • xander janson

    Yesterday, I saw a homeless man set up next and around a "Handouts don't help" sign and laughed at the pure irony

    Reply
  • heavy meddle

    There's no bike racks in Seattle lol

    Reply
  • SammyPlayzGaming

    I was just on vacation in Houston, TX, and by Minute Maid Park, there's a big homeless community. we went to 2 games there, and i felt so sad passing by those people. ;-;

    Reply
  • Tasty Salt

    0:55

    "Police OwO"




    ..
    .
    .

    Reply
  • Johny's Play4Fun

    anyone see the owo on the police guy badge 0:55 ??

    OwO whats that?

    Reply
  • sam robinson

    Im not opposed to metal slats to prevent skate boarders from grinding on and damaging taxpayer funded structures…. Maybe just build an indoor and outdoor skate park and get the skater community involved for design input?

    Reply
  • Karina Dumenez

    Nice

    Reply
  • Echelon730

    Revisiting this years on and I get "Hostile Design" in regards to the homeless. I have seem too many local store owners lose business because of the homeless. I get they are homeless, but why do they do their "bodily business" in front of stores when a port-a-john is literally on the other side of the park.

    At some point you need to look out for your own self interest.

    Reply
  • Mista Troodon

    COUGH COUGH Brawl tripping COUGH

    Reply
  • WhyThisJorgal

    wait wait wait at 0:57 the cops badge says
    "powice owo"
    I commend their bravery

    Reply
  • Evan Driscoll

    This hole thing coasts on the fact that igaf ab homeless people lol let them die

    Reply
  • KrekerInGaming ITA

    F**k unpleasant design

    Reply
  • secundus penguin

    In either Norway or Sweeden they have programs and buildings that allow addicts to get high safley while slowly bringing down the doses. Its better than what most countries do because America and countries with the same system just try to stop more drugs comming in and that makes the drug users go to farther lengths to get it. They also keep on dieing from over doses while people could be watching them and making sure they are safe.

    Reply
  • Lubinator 666

    i know this topic for quite long time and it was always kinda bad and not ok to me. like in my eyes it is wrong to design place just to prevent homeless from sleeping there. like it is not right. no i am not one of those socialists who wants everoyne to be equal and "why don't we give homeless home" etc, but actively being against them just not seems right.

    Reply
  • RON H

    We should all invite a homeless person in our home.
    Don't expect the government or business to solve problems that we can solve

    Reply
  • Stephen Odell

    I lived in a city where they put fencing under over passes so people could not get up under road deck. Some places you can only stay in a shelter for only a few nights. then you could not come back for like 2or 3 weeks. by the time you made the rounds of all the shelters you still had to sleep on the streets. Alameda, California, is across the bay from San Francisco. The liberals there are always yelling about why the Federal government does not do enough for the homeless. Yet when the Navy closed the base there all the housing was left vacant. I couldn't help how many families who needed a home but were not allowed to have one. nearly all the sh elders are payed for by privet funding, What I find amusing is that The people who demand that the Government pay for housing are rich enough to build a shelter but will not.

    Reply
  • How 2 Game

    This is the first video I watched on this channel. I hope you guys will cover more stuff like controversial-ish topics and game design philosophy stuff. Also, Extra History is pretty good, thx

    Reply
  • Kyle Parkerson

    I recently learned of interior building design meant to be unpleasant for shooters. Schools are now being designed with curved hallways in order to limit a potential shooter’s line of sight. The curved hallways also have unnecessary walls sticking out to provide cover from potential gunfire. I would call it good unpleasant design since someone is taking some kind of effort to cut down on the killings. Unlike Trump and his cronies who in the most recent mass shootings blamed video games.

    Reply
  • DnD Ulitharid

    HOLY CRAP IM NOT CRAZY! FRIGGIN MALLS

    Reply
  • Anon ymous

    Perhaps it isnt about hiding the problem so much as not allowing it to concentrate. The homeless populations, especially in urban areas along the west coast are a disease epidemic waiting to happen.

    Reply
  • Phan Nguyen

    That ending soundtrack was from FF7 at Wall Market.

    Reply
  • Ender Drone

    If I’m being honest with you guys, I APPROVE of what the government is doing with these unpleasant design.

    NOW HEAR ME OUT, before you start bashing me! As much unpleasant design is bad for the homeless people who are trying to find comfort, there’s a reason why unpleasant design like those exist. It’s there so it wouldn’t be an eyesore to see homeless people sleep at public place, remember Public places are for Public consumption not a place for homeless people, but if you put homeless people around the place where they can feel comfortable it becomes an eyesore, BUT it also breeds CRIMINALITY, DISEASES (because of the garbage or unfavorable conditions they are in). Those unpleasant design exist so IT DOESN’T ENCOURAGE HOMELESSNESS! If there are some places where homeless people can be comfortable where they are resting, it would an eyesore sight to see, plus the people who thinks it’s a good idea to remove unpleasant designs, well there are unseen consequences on those!

    Also most of these homeless people are people who are unable to adjust to society, either they are alcoholics, drug users, or etc

    I know it doesn’t stop homelessness, but it hinders the increase of homelessness.

    If I have to put on other words, Homelessness is the source of criminality and disease because of their failure to adjust to society.

    Sure call me a “COLD HEARTED PEROSN” or “ASSHOLE” but if you guys REMAIN too naive to see the consequences, look up at anything with consequences of homelessness and the damage they can effect.

    Reply
  • Ship Wreck

    I’ve seen some guy skate along the edge thing and actually succeed (to some extent)

    Reply
  • Anıl Asma

    If they are homeless, they should buy a house smh. I don't get all the fuss bout these things :/

    Reply
  • Federico Meoni

    thats what happen in a blue state

    Reply
  • Surplus King

    Capitalism itself is an unpleasant design.

    Reply
  • 林鼎鈞

    Talking about the holes on benches, it's probably a pleasant design to have in tropical islands lol
    just lower the poverty rate, plz

    Reply
  • hamilton euzarraga

    Oh Christians of the world, forshame.

    Reply
  • Kyrion Bookshield

    Well. You know you can find such design also in some games.

    Reply
  • William Chamberlain

    2:00 I'm fully down with stopping skateboarders and BMXers grinding nice stonework.

    Reply
  • Nathan Springer

    A government caring about its people who pay taxes instead of people who dont. How terrible.

    Reply
  • Gin Martin

    Civilization sucks

    Reply
  • CAMSLAYER13

    Yea I bet they got rid of those bike racks just in time to remove the bridge

    Reply
  • Ididwolfup

    Those dam poor people

    Reply
  • StinkeyeGames

    I remember that I had to read a book for school called Scratch Beginnings which handles homelessness a great deal. The author mentions that the shelters were uncomfortable and unclean, with the intention of encouraging people to leave the shelter in pursuit of a better place to sleep. Do you think this is an example of uncomfortable design being used for good, or just cruel?

    Reply
  • Ganondorf Dragmire

    The US treats homeless people like pure S***
    It's very sad

    Reply
  • Где Водка

    powice owo

    Reply
  • Lee Scales

    I like that take on "Oppressed People" for the outro. I'm sure Midgar has tons of such things and worse in place…

    Reply
  • Manicdreamz

    Not to mention a lot of these bad designs hurt disabled people too even if they're targeted at homeless people

    Reply
  • Laser Lights

    I live near Seattle and this is a great video for a city like it because i see it in more then just bike racks i see it everywhere in Seattle…and those bike racks are still there in many places-

    Reply
  • Pax Shmitz

    In my opinion hostile isn't inheritly evil it can be used for good I see potential.

    Reply
  • Brianna Myers

    I'm going to sound really synical but someone needs to say it. You can't stop all homelessness. Did you know that 87 percent of people who claim to be homeless. Are either lying or are willingly homeless. And when cities do this. Yes it keeps homeless people from sleeping them. But it also helps motivate that 87 percent of the homeless population to at least try to get back into their feet. My question is this, why is it we work if there are people out there living off of government money and living for free? You of all people should know were I am going with this. Try being a little bit more understanding of these things. And no I am not a a horrible person for saying this, I am simply saying that instead of giving the homeless free stuff and make them dependent of other people's money. Why don't we try to motivate or help them to get up on their own two feet and get back into society. If you don't agree with me that's fine. But before we go attacking the people who do this look at both sides.

    Reply
  • Kel Thuzad

    Now im a big fan of hostile design, i must remember all these things, as arquitect

    Reply
  • Вячеслав Герасимов

    1:56 hold my beer

    Reply
  • 판사님 저는오늘만 삽니다

    i thought bench with small holes design for summer or raining

    Reply
  • Diego Braga

    Best video so far

    Reply
  • IceBox Studios

    Totally untubular homesicle

    Reply
  • B Dan

    It's well known that Seattle spends 0 dollars on homelessness. Not a penny. THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THE HOMELESS. The homeless should be able to shoot up that sweet sweet high anywhere they want!

    Reply

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