Failure by Design

ParkBench-anti-homeless

The public park bench shown above in Japan is designed in a number of ways to be very unergonomic:

  1. It has a rigid, upright back that forces you to sit upright.
  2. The seating slopes down and outwards, this makes the user feel like he/she is slipping off the bench constantly.
  3. Firm dividers that prevent users from laying down on the bench.
  4. Relatively shallow seat depth.

This bench was commissioned, designed and produced for use in Japan’s oldest park, Ueno Onshi. It was specifically designed to be unergonomic. This is because the park where this bench was placed is host to many homeless Japanese. The design and features of the bench are intended to deter the homeless from sleeping on them. Unfortunately the benches are so uncomfortable that other park guests are not able to enjoy a nice relaxing rest on them while using the park.

It is clear that these benches have failed in their purpose. While they may be effective in deterring the homeless, they have also at the same time deprived or severely limited other guests from its benefits. It is simply, designed to fail. It’s like asking Mercedes to design a car that only goes 5 mph to deter thieves from stealing their cars.

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