The Impact of Vandalism Crime and Terrorism

Vandalism and crime in general have a major impact on city life especially for the vulnerable in society. The vandalism of playgrounds, street furniture and other elements of the public realm has long been a problem and has resulted in the impoverishment of the environment in many societies (Ward, 1973). Graffiti has many defenders but hardly raises the self-image of the citizens of a city except for those who create it. Fear of crime has resulted in children having fewer opportunities for independent behaviour. Consider the impact of social and behavioural problems at Pruitt-Igoe or in many large British or French housing estates on everyday life.

The failings, real and imagined, of developments such as Pruitt-Igoe led Oscar Newman to formulate the concept of 'defensible space' (Newman, 1974). He argued that in housing precincts where there are clear demarcations of territories allocated to specific groups of people, eyes on the street and positive symbolic aesthetics that enhanced residents' self-image people take responsibility over the areas in which they live. The opportunities for criminal behaviour are thereby reduced. Often, however, in the design of prestigious building such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, other issues are perceived to be more important and defensible space patterns are neglected. The focus is on the building as a sculpture set in its own territory.

Reducing motivations to commit criminal behaviour is not an architectural or urban design problem but physical design responses - barbed or razor wire on walls, roller shutters blanking out shopwindows at night - reduce the attractiveness of the urban environment. We have learnt to live with television surveillance of many parts of the public realm but playgrounds, bus shelters and street furniture continue to be destroyed. Graffiti besmirches many walls. These acts are all annoyances and a threat to public safety. The threat of terrorism is, however, frightening.

There has been a growing concern, particularly in the United States with designing to reduce the impact of terrorism. The images of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers are so indelibly imprinted on people's minds, that designing to mitigate the impacts, particularly of vehicles loaded with explosives being driven into buildings, is regarded as a fundamental aspect of public space design in the early twenty-first century. The consequence is that barriers, either overtly or as elements such as concrete flower boxes, are increasingly shaping significant public spaces. The objective is to prevent access by vehicles to the front doors and ground floor windows of buildings.

It would be a pity if buildings become designed as fortresses with blank façades on the ground floor. The result would be that the environment for pedestrians would be dull and would discourage people from walking along the streets. One can add murals and reliefs to make blank façades less boring as required in Bellevue, Washington, but such devices are hardly a substitute for the perception of activities. People enjoy vicarious participation in the lives of other people in the city. We need to free up the public realm for everybody to enjoy. Fears of crime and terrorism discourage us from doing so.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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