{In|Ex}clusive Design

Spikes and rail, Bradford-on-Avon

Giving with one hand, and taking away with the other.

The juxtaposition of hand rails and anti-sit spikes outside this church in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire suggests a particular configuration of design priorities: helping people climb the steps, but forbidding anyone sitting on the wall.

Are the targets different groups of people? We might think so: older people may have more difficulty climbing the steps, and so be more likely to need hand rails, and younger people might be more likely to be ‘hanging around’ outside, and thus ‘need’ to be ‘discouraged’. This might be a simple case of discriminatory architecture, aimed at excluding one group while welcoming another.

But then older people like sitting down too. People in general like sitting down. Is this a case of cutting off your nose to spite own face? Whatever the ‘backstory’ is, the intent behind the different features, and the decision-making process (the spikes look older than the rails) would be interesting to know.

Spikes and rail, Bradford-on-Avon

Spikes and rail, Bradford-on-Avon

Spikes and rail, Bradford-on-Avon


  1. The architect says “People may utilise the building and its means of entry/egress, but they may not loiter as this spoils the aesthetic”.

    This is an ideal photo-shoot for bed-o-nails shamans or s&m bondage fetishists.

    Alternatively, have an aged or disabled pedestrian struggle up the steps with the aid of the hand rail, and through exertion seek somewhere nearby to sit, eventually realising they must give up and collapse onto the ground.

    You could have a vandal super-hero arrive and remove the spikes, thus saving the day – and someone’s posterior. Let’s see such a vandal prosecuted.

  2. Dan

    If that could be arranged, and filmed (with or without the vandal superhero), it would become a very popular internet phenomenon overnight.

  3. katie

    I think this desing is so beautiful and minimalist. The spikes represent a juxtopossition between existentionalism and premonarchy England. I beleive this is absolutely fabulkaous!

  4. miguel fernandez

    Los idees soi muey guy i chido. los sin abuelos senors no tengo una reposo una la bencho

  5. Pingback: By Any Means Necessary: Dirty Tricks in Britain’s War Against Teenagers | We Interrupt

  6. Anonymous

    If somebody didn’t notice the spikes and sat down could they sue?

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