The benches, set up in a swanky new apartment development at Bjørvika on the Aker River, were harshly criticized when they first appeared in July.
“I think it’s a pity that we now have a type of architecture aimed at excluding the weakest people in our city,” Lan Marie Nguyen Berg of the Norwegian Green Party told the Dagbladet newspaper. “It’s a trend you can see in many cities lately: it is to prevent people from sleeping outdoors.”
Other businesses in Oslo have placed spikes below shop windows, rocks under bridges, and designed benches where the armrests are too close for anyone to be able to lie down.
The armrests on the Bjørvika benches were removed this week after a number of politicians, including Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, backed Nguyen Berg’s campaign.
“I agree. There are many architectural projects around that are acclaimed by connoisseurs that I don’t think are particularly inviting,” Solberg told Dagbladet. “I think it should be possible to climb on things, step on them and roll around on them, and all of our outdoor spaces should strive for that.”
In the UK, a campaign group called ‘Better Than Spikes’ placed mattresses on top of anti-homeless spikes in order to neutralize their effectiveness.
“We’re told where we can walk, where we can sit, where we are welcome, but only if we spend money. Or have it,” the group explained in a statement. “It makes us neurotic and engenders a deep sense of ‘otherness’ in anyone who chooses to or simply cannot buy in to what currently passes for society and leisure.”