The father of the most hostile piece of street furniture in world history explains why he thinks he's right to make life harder for homeless people and socializing kids

Dean Harvey is the co-founder of Factory Furniture, the company that created the Camden Bench, a piece of street furniture designed to stop anyone from using it for anything except sitting very briefly; it is the nadir of the "Unpleasant Design" movement, a bizarre response to rising homelessness and hostility to children in public spaces, in which cities and private companies try to shove the problem out of sight by making street furniture as inhospitable as possible.

In a CNN debate with anti-unpleasant-design architect James Furzer, Harvey defends his practice, by simply defining all the things that people without privilege want to do in public spaces as "anti-social" and everything that makes life worse for those people as "pro-social." For example, he defends his "Serpentine bench" (designed to prevent people from sleeping on it) and other anti-lie-down boobytraps by saying that "I find it difficult to think why anyone would want to sleep on a bench. It's no place for anyone to spend the night."

The problems that these unpleasant designs are trying to solve are only going to get worse with rising inequality and privatization of public spaces. Unpleasant design is being used to make life harder for refugees with nowhere to sleep; to saturate homeless peoples' clothes and belongings with icy water if they try to sleep in church doorways; and to stop people from resting their legs in public places.

The whole piece is fascinating. It uses an undefined "general public" to describe whose public space needs are legitimate, and excludes everyone else from legitimacy. As many have pointed out, when affluent people pitch tents on Sunset Boulevard to wait for Star Wars tickets, the police don't beat them up, arrest them and destroy their belongings. But when homeless people pitch tents in the same spot so they have somewhere to sleep, that's what happens to them.

Finally, can the public enjoy urban spaces with hostile architecture?

JF: Yes, because (the general public) would have a different requirement from that space. Maybe you need somewhere to sit for five minutes, but you don't generally need a place to stay for a long period of time.

The debate: Is hostile architecture designing people out of cities? [Andrea Lo/CNN]