Art Collective Turns Spiked Steps Into Homeless Haven

The Space, Not Spikes intervention. Photo: courtesy Space, Not Spikes.
The Space, Not Spikes intervention. Photo: courtesy Space, Not Spikes.
The Space, Not Spikes intervention. Photo: courtesy CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy.

The Space, Not Spikes intervention.
Photo: courtesy CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy.

A new project from a London art collective has called out property owners on using “anti-homeless spikes” by transforming an unwelcoming step into a comfortable nook.

The project is the work of the Space, Not Spikes, which is opposed to what collective member Leah Borromeo described to the Independent as “hostile architecture.”

“It doesn’t get rid of the problem of homelessness; it doesn’t get rid of the problem of poverty,” Borromeo noted. “It just pushes it out so… you no longer have to look at it, and that is really selfish.”

The site of the Space, Not Spikes intervention. Photo: courtesy CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy.

The site of the Space, Not Spikes intervention.
Photo: courtesy CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy.

You may have noticed certain public spaces seem designed with less-than-optimal comfort in mind, and there’s a reason for that. Straight-backed chairs with unnecessary armrests, tiny stools, and benches that become uncomfortably hot or cold depending on the weather are specifically designed to keep homeless people from loitering or sleeping on them.

(This probably shouldn’t be surprising, since even a statue of a “Homeless” Jesus sleeping on a park bench in North Carolina prompted phone calls to the police from concerned neighbors.)

Space, Not Spikes is counteracting the effects of such defensive architectural elements in dramatic fashion, covering the spiked area outside a former London nightclub with bedding and a small bookshelf with a note inviting people to stop and read.

The Space, Not Spikes intervention. Photo: courtesy CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy.

The Space, Not Spikes intervention.
Photo: courtesy CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy.

“Nothing says ‘keep out’ to a person more than rows of sharpened buttplugs laid out to stop people from enjoying or using public space,” reads a message on the group’s Tumblr. Their message is that public space is for everyone, and that such architectural deterrents are simply cruel. For instance, if public spaces were more inviting, perhaps homeless people wouldn’t wind up getting accidentally locked in at museums.

Response to the Space, Not Spikes project has been overwhelmingly positive, with singer Eli Goulding giving the group a shout-out on Instagram for their “good work.”

Borromeo called Goulding’s response to the project “amazing,” telling Upworthy that she felt the group’s work had “definitely touched a nerve and I think it is because, as a whole, humans will still look out for each other.”


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