Hostile Design

I heard an interesting radio programme while I was driving recently, which discussed ‘hostile design’ i.e., designing to prevent people behaving in a particular way. So much of the focus of ergonomics / human factors is on ‘inclusive design’ to allow as many people as possible to be able to use a product, workplace or system, that this was an interesting alternative view for me. The programme focussed particularly on design of public spaces to prevent antisocial behaviour – sleeping on benches, skateboarding etc, but it made me reflect on how most ‘hostile design’ that we might get involved in as ergonomists is to ensure people’s safety (e.g. guarding on machinery or designing a load to be too heavy to be manually handled, so that a handling aid has to be used). You may be interested to listen to the programme!

I found these benches on a visit to Sheffield – presumably designed to prevent people lying down on them…. And I don’t suppose you’d be tempted to linger for long on a cold day – granite not being the warmest surface to sit on. So probably hostile in more than one way….