June 14, 2022

Site Furniture & Urban Design

Designing shared spaces involves a number of considerations including aesthetics, intended use and public safety. A hot button topic for many that design and manage urban public spaces is how to appropriately handle vagrancy in those spaces. Many environmental design discussions can be found around the concept of defensive architecture, sometimes even called hostile architecture, that uses design concepts to discourage unintended uses of public spaces and furnishings. While our diverse collection of site furnishings typically welcomes a variety of uses and encourages inclusive outdoor accessibility, many of our clients have discussed defensive architecture strategies and its many nuanced intents and implications.

We are continually learning about emerging design trends but it is not within our realm of expertise to advise on the right or wrong approach to handle loitering, homelessness, skateboarding or vandalism. We realize the needs, goals and attitudes can vary within each community. However, if your goals are to minimize the use of specific furnishings as places to loiter or discourage unplanned usage of certain areas, below are some products and site furniture customizations that can help manage the use of spaces in a discreet way.

Benches with Center Arms

One of our most common alterations to our standard bench designs is the addition of a center arm. Center-arm benches serve many purposes including additional support for getting up, especially for the aging population, and a feeling of privacy and separation for pedestrians sharing the bench. Often times, our customers are choosing a bench center arm to act as a sleeping deterrent or to keep people from laying down.

Curved Benches

Curved benches can create a sense of movement and can also be used to reflect the shapes of existing landscape or architectural elements. It can be concave, convex or even a custom radius. In any case, a curved bench can also make an uncomfortable space for extended lounging.

Leaning Rails

Leaning bars or slanted bench rails are a great solution for tight spaces and transient areas where people come and go quickly. By offering just a quick place to lean on a standing rail rather than a full bench to sit and stay, you limit long-term guests while still offering a place to rest.

Segmented Seating

Modular benches and custom benches with distinct separation work similar to center arms by providing individual seating and personal space. By offering clear seating orientation or individual chairs, alternative uses become difficult.


Durable outdoor planters are a way to bring beauty and greenery to streetscapes and public spaces. They can also be used to block, hide or restrict certain areas or fill up stretches of open space.


The primary function of bollards is to block access to restricted areas. A more specific use case of a bollard is when creatively installed where private nooks have gained unexpected use.

Covered Trash Receptacles

Litter receptacles with small openings or trash cans with protective lids provide a variety of functions. A small opening can help keep animals out or distinguish function as a recycling container for bottles and cans. Trash can lids with covered openings protect the contents from the weather, prevent large disposals or can discourage access to the refuse inside.

Skate Blocks

Another often unintended use of street furniture is when skateboarders see the benches as an opportunity to perform stunts – something that can result in expensive property damage. Skate blocks on the end of benches discourage those efforts by breaking up the clean edges that act as a rail for skating enthusiasts.

If any of these ideas align with the goals of your outdoor space, consider talking with one of our territory managers about a custom collection of site furnishings that suits your specific needs and addresses your top concerns. Whether your goals are to provide welcoming options or to subtly guide usage, we can provide the furnishings to support your open space initiatives.