The physical Barriers we create to exclude others – The arsenal of exclusion

When we see a wall, a fence or a partition, we justify it in terms of “noise reduction” or “privacy”. Perhaps it’s more than that.

A year ago the local doctors practice (“The Forest Lake Family Medical Center”) shut down. This abandoned building is next to a bus stop, where bored young people like to loiter. Eventually graffiti and broken windows started “happening”. Obviously this wasn’t very pleasing to the owners or the remaining tenants of the building. Something had to be done.

The Fence

The solution was to erect a fence. Although the fence looks formidable, it has a rather peculiar construction. It doesn’t encircle anything. It’s easy to walk around it. What’s the point?

It works

There is no sign warning trespassers of the prosecution they will receive. The barrier, although not really stopping people from accessing the building is the sign. It says, “we realise you are bored, so you probably won’t risk missing your bus by going around this fence”. Message delivered.

There is a group in the US that go around cities cataloging and learning about what they call the “Arsenal of Exclusion”. Barriers, signs and designs of physical objects designed to either close or open interaction with a space.

Another great example is housing estates. What’s with all the confusing tiny streets that seem to be designed to prevent easy access? That’s exactly what they’re deigned for.

Take a look at the barriers around you. It’s amazing the effect these can have on your own behaviour and the behaviour of others.

If you believe you have a choice, look and see the barriers that constrain you, and whether they really should be there. Or if vandals are wrecking something precious to you, perhaps it’s time to put a barrier up.


Location:Forest Lake,QLD,Australia


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