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Creating Safe and Sustainable Communities

Creating Safe and Sustainable Communities

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Published by rona44

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: rona44 on Mar 08, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Newman’s central concept was Defensible Space (Fig. 2.2), which has four
main design elements. These contribute both individually and together in the
concept of Defensible Space. They are:

& Territoriality

& Surveillance

& Building image

& Juxtaposition of residential with other facilities.

Design out Crime


Figure 2.2 Defensible Space: sketches of main principles by Oscar Newman

(Newman, 1973, p. 9). Reproduced by courtesy of Macmillan

Publishing Ltd.

[15:14 26/11/03 n:4135 COLQUHOUN.751/0750654929 Design Out Crime/application/4135-Alltext.3d] Ref: 4135 Auth: Colquhoun Title: Design Out Crime Alltext Page: 41 0-315


With the use of real or symbolic barriers, residential environments can be
subdivided into zones that are manageable for the residents through their
adopting the attitude that ‘‘this is my territory’’. The transition from private
(easily manageable) to public space (difficult to manage) is important. To
achieve this:

& All spaces both outside and inside buildings should as far as possible be under

the control of or under the influence of the residents.

& External spaces should be seen to be clearly private or semi-private when

viewed from public streets and footpaths. Walls, fences and gates clearly
define territoriality, but symbolic devices may also be used, such as changes
of level, steps, gateways, portals, etc.

& In higher density developments, common staircases should serve as small a

number of residential units as possible so that residents recognise each other,
but more importantly, they recognise intruders.

& External communal areas – such as play areas, drying greens, parking – should,

where possible, be accessible from and in close proximity to the entrances of
buildings, or should be entered from the private domain.


Residents must be able to survey what is happening in and around public
spaces inside and outside the buildings. To achieve this:

& Windowsshould also be positionednotjust to suit the internal planof a house,

but to survey public spaces, both external and internal, within the scheme.

& Gable ends of terraced housing should have windows to overlook adjoining

streets or open space.

& Front entrances to buildings should face onto streets so that passing pedes-

trians and motorists can notice anything strange happening.

& It is preferable if all common areas within buildings – staircases, lift lobbies,

landings, etc. – are visible from the street outside the building and, where
regulations permit, should also be overlooked by windows from the dwelling

& Fire-escape stairs should be glazed, be located on the outside of buildings, and

able to discharge any users to the front of the buildings.

Building image

Proper use of materials and good architectural design can prevent residents
from feeling stigmatised, which can lead to a feeling of isolation. This can be
achieved by:

Development of design principles


[15:14 26/11/03 n:4135 COLQUHOUN.751/0750654929 Design Out Crime/application/4135-Alltext.3d] Ref: 4135 Auth: Colquhoun Title: Design Out Crime Alltext Page: 42 0-315

& Avoiding building forms and layout that stand out as completely different,

since they draw specific attention to the project.

& In very large redevelopment projects where there is an existing grid of streets,

retaining the streets rather than closing them off. This will help the scheme
from appearing totally different and will maintain street surveillance.

& Not letting high-rise/high-density housing blocks to low-income people as

they are particularly vulnerable to crime.

& Ensuring that finishes and furnishings in interior spaces are robust, but attrac-

tive to residents. Institutional hard materials may encourage an urge to test
their destructiveness and could be vandalised.

Juxtaposition of residential areas with other facilities

The security of adjoining areas is partly determined by the ‘‘strategic
geographical location of intensively used communal facilities’’, but:

& Housing should be mixed with commercial and social facilities as this helps

improve security in an area (Fig. 2.3).

& Parks and playgrounds should be overlooked by housing to afford natural


Newman proved his theory by analysing 133 public housing complexes in
New York City. He carried out an analysis of crime in these complexes using
figures obtained from the New York City Housing Authority Police
Department. He proved that approximately two-thirds of the offences
occurred inside the complexes and one-third outside. The insides of lifts
were the most dangerous feature, followed (at some distance) by the hall,
lobby and staircase. Despite criticism of a lack of consideration of social and
demographic factors in his methodology, his ideas became immediately pop-
ular in the US and in Britain. He was to have an enormous impact on housing
design in many parts of the world.

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