Art of Now: Hostile Design

"Just listened to this show on hostile design – beautiful words and ideas. It struck me that if human civilisation was based on those values, we couldn't fail"

Radio 4 Listener


Artist Stuart Semple investigates unwelcoming street design in public spaces after leading a campaign against benches to oust rough sleepers in his home town.


- 1 x 28 minute radio documentary for BBC Radio 4
- first broadcast September 2019


Artist and activist Stuart Semple was outraged by his hometown council putting bars on benches to deter the homeless. In this one-off BBC Radio 4 documentary, he investigates the use of hostile design in public spaces.

Stuart asks arts journalist Anny Shaw for a critical assessment. He also seeks the view of art critic and historian Ben Street in the London Borough of Bromley, where there's an even more unlikely type of bench made of black polished granite.

And hostile design is more than just street furniture. Stuart finds out about a high-pitched sound that normally only under-25s can hear, transmitted in public spaces to discourage gangs of youths congregating, as well as bagpipe or classical music played loudly on a loop at railway stations to deter rough sleepers.

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