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crime & design


A recent article in Miami New Times talks about "Miami, Crime and Urban Design." Apparently Miami has the highest rate of violent crime in the US (no surprise there) and the author links together crime with social and environmental factors.

According to the study, people need to mark and defend their own territories, and effective urban design will define their "space." Activity and safety depend on continous use, and if we don't see ourselves as part of a greater community with commonly held aspirations, the distribution of crime would decrease.

This seems to emphasize the idea of community identity. However, the diversity of Miami and the language barriers seem to present a barrier here.

What are your thoughts on community identity? How achievable is it REALLY?

Howard Roark

Community identiity as a function of urban design is a sticky subject, that is it is easy to get off track.

The best course is (as always) a community based design Initiative. That way you set the course for self-determination, this works best when a strong and observant personality is overseeing the project, especially the design end.

Some practical approaches to safety that don’t broach the costly and complex issues of broad based community design include

1- remove street barriers and dead ends, in the 1970's some brilliant sociologist played planner and came up with the idea that limiting permibility would reduce crime from spreading due to the inability to “drive” there. This stranded people in dead end streets when the crime element became home grown the baddies used the closed off streets to cement their control…Brilliant! Open things up, you risk drive by shootings but you also open up areas to “let the rest of the city in”

2- Raise new construction a foot or three off the street, empowers the owner with a feeling of control by looking down on the street.

3- Big windows on the street, allows light and life from surrounding buildings to dispel the dark, dank places that the baddies tend to favor.

4- Limit access to the private areas and backs of buildings, if the baddies are confined to the street there are fewer places to hide.

5- Arm all citizens with high powered weapns ;-) Heh, heh. I really don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other on gun control (I am odd like that), I just threw that one in for El Guapo