Design as a Deterrent

unpleasant design

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Design as a deterrent

As well as design being used to improve our lives it can also be deliberately used to make our lives more difficult, for example to act as a deterrent and to change our behaviour. 

unpleasant design

Unpleasant Design is a website focusing on how urban design interferes with and controls people’s behaviour e.g. surfaces that prevent posters being stuck up, benches designed to stop public sleeping, lighting that discourages loitering. The website follows the same ‘unpleasant design’ principles so it does give you a bit of a headache to use it! 

Public benches are good examples of designs that act as a deterent, also known as defensive design. Many are deliberately designed to be uncomfortable to sit on for any length of time which discourages rough sleepers. 


#ThinkDo:

  • Visit the website to research the concept of ‘unpleasant design’ and then investigate urban design in your area to find similar examples to the ones on the website, as well as examples of your own. Take photographs of your examples. 
  • Describe the design features that have been used in your examples and evaluate how well they interfere with and control people’s behaviour
  • Select an urban area or public space and plan how you would develop the area to and its features to interrupt and control people’s behaviour. 


Return to the Users, Need, Design Contexts & Products page to see all resources 


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