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THEORY

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THEORY

  1. 1. DIRECTING SOCIETY: DEFENSIBLE SPACE AND SPATIAL MANIPULATION IN THE MODERN CITY CULIN THOMPSON – ARCH 600 – DIAZ
  2. 2. THOMPSON 2 1. PREFACE In today’s society, one begins to look at their personal life without exploration or consideration of their surrounding context and built environment – we simply traverse though the built city on our course of movement to our final destination. Focused on achieving and accomplishing set schedules and agendas, society has further adopted set standards of what one must achieve and focus on in an effort to conform and maintain a ‘normal’ image within the social, political, and economic network of societal standards. In this essay, Directing Society begins to explore how defensible space and its interaction with spatial manipulation of civic space, semi-public space, and private space can begin to define the relationships between urban life, perception of one’s environment, crime, and these societal standards of the community and unique network occupying these zones. Architects hold themselves to a higher role in society in the aspect that they view themselves as responsible for improving the built environment of cities and spaces. While the typical architect or architecture student may discuss this relationship of the architect and society by the desire to build ‘grand public buildings’ or ‘beautiful and inspiring structures,’ the role of the architect extends much further than the physical confines of a site. In both the historical city and the modern city, the public square or city market serves as a critical element of urban design. Throughout history, this square has been
  3. 3. THOMPSON 3 utilized for economic, social, and political movements and innovations ranging from political coups to food markets for urban farming. These public zones therefore begin to reflect the ideology of the society that occupies them, and thus embraces a symbolic yet physical billboard promoting the values and platforms of the movements and paradigms of which they helped birth. The question therefore transforms to architects; do they have a societal responsibility to design in a manner that allows for a certain degree of freedom or of oppression in an effort to direct the activities that occur in our projects? Does this question vary for the political or social institution in which we are designing for? In the case of a smaller scale, should they be designing and organizing the modern and futuristic cities of tomorrow in an attempt to control the philosophy and psychology of its occupants and citizens? Architects and urban planners hold the ability to control social interaction through public space and how a society and community begins to interact and form relationships in these zones of influence. They seek to formulate a response to this set of questions and develop a sense of the nature to the direct link between the architect and the operation of society.
  4. 4. THOMPSON 4 2. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ECOLOGICAL CITY According to Kevin Lynch, the city can operate under an organic model: the Ecological City (Shane 2005). In this model, the city is constructed from enclaves and a series of armatures that intermix to formulate the pattern and fabric of the city looking to replicate an organic relationship between the different design elements and city centers. Operating as an organism in this model, the city begins to become self-organizing and self-regulating – it begins to control itself and can return to a semi-balanced state whenever acted upon and disturbed by a force not planned or designed. When we begin to apply this model of the ecological city to the modern city, we can begin to develop a new sense of understanding as to how these urban centers and urban plazas can begin to be forces for sparking and serving as a catalyst in urban movements and political swings. According to Shane, these public spaces in the city of communal knowledge are spaces that are deeply rooted and connected to communal activity – and as stated before, these public zones therefore begin to represent the ideology of the society that occupies them, thus embracing a symbolic yet physical billboard promoting the values and platforms of the society which embraces them (Shane 2005). According to Thomas More in Utopia (1516), the formal and spatial organization and rules (both social and ethical) are expressed in this sacred public and civic space within the urban fabric and city network of the Ecological City as a center and hub (Shane 2005).
  5. 5. THOMPSON 5 Figure 2.1
  6. 6. THOMPSON 6 3. DEFENSIBLE SPACE Defensible Space is defined as a “surrogate term for the range of mechanisms – real and symbolic barriers, strongly defined areas of influence, and improved opportunities for surveillance – that combine to bring an environment under the control of its residents” (Newman 1973). Looking at defensible space within the modern city, it can be applied to the larger cityscape as a methodology of controlling and ruling the ‘masses’ of society – directing their movements and actions in an effort to maintain peace and limit crime and a loss of control over societal order. What becomes interesting, therefore, is that defensible space, as Newman describes, requires that “For one group to be able to set the norms of behavior and the nature of activity possible within a particular place, it is necessary that it have clear, unquestionable control over what can occur there” (Newman 1973). Per Newman’s ideology that in order for a space to be idealized as a defensible space it must serve a specific topic, it becomes curious that these public squares and gathering points within the context of the city which we talked of within the Ecological City can be utilized as flexible civic space. Does this mean, therefore, that all flexible public and civic spaces directly break Newman’s persona of what defensible space is and how it is designed or are these civic zones simply a manifestation and hybrid of Newman’s defensible space within the modern city as it becomes realized and implemented within the actual fabric of a city?
  7. 7. THOMPSON 7 While Newman may state that these spaces which are secure in design may require a specified purpose, according to Shane, design (in the city as a machine model) simply only requires “clear concepts that neatly articulate each piece of a problem and isolate its properties” – in this sense, crime and manipulation of human interaction and movements (Shane 2005). Does this mean that the city – when looking at the fabric for spaces of crime prevention – is actually serving as the city as a machine and not the ecological city? The key in this analysis is in the critical fact that the city as a machine serves one purpose: expansion. This expansion involves enormous amounts of capital and investment in the infrastructure of the city grid over the design of the city and design intent, generating a lack in the “social mechanisms that one kept crime in check and gave direction and support to policy activity … preventing such amity and discourag[ing] the natural pursuit of a collective action” (Newman 1973). We had earlier raised the question as to what exactly the role of the architect is within society and if we should, as a profession, be encouraging collective action and designing for a degree of freedom or allowing oppression through design. As designers and shapers of future society, we (the profession) must now decide which path of action we shall take within our modern cities: continue to design in an effort which prohibits individualized expression and freedom or continue our tradition (as Newman states) of this discouragement of collective action and personalized freedom. In the next section of this essay, we will begin to analyze existing conditions within city fabrics and their attempt or non-intended design actions which begin to inform them as spaces of crime prevention or encouragement as centers of defensible civic space.
  8. 8. THOMPSON 8 4. ELEMENTS OF DEFENSIBLE DESIGN According to Oscar Newman there are four elements to physical design which contribute to the creation of a secure environment for an individual (Newman 1973): 1. The territorial definition of space in developments reflecting the areas of influence of the inhabitants. This works by subdividing the residential environment into zones toward which adjacent residents easily adopt proprietary attitudes. 2. The positioning of apartment windows to allow residents to naturally survey the exterior and interior public areas of their living environment. 3. The adoption of building forms and idioms which avoid the stigma of peculiarity that allows others to perceive the vulnerability and isolation of the inhabitants. 4. The enhancement of safety by locating residential developments in functionally sympathetic urban areas immediately adjacent to activities that do not provide continued threat. In the case of our argument, we can take these principles for residential housing developments and begin to apply them to commercial and civic zones which we will be analyzing – public squares and plazas. These four elements and principles of design may translate into the civic sphere in this manner:
  9. 9. THOMPSON 9 1. Define the territoriality of the civic zone into zones of responsibility for influence and adoption of proprietary care. 2. Position residency windows surrounding the square to territorially monitor and naturally survey the square and civic zone. 3. Adopt building forms to limit vulnerability and isolation. 4. Locate the civic zone within an area of the urban fabric limiting access to continued threat. The first major modern paradigm shift (according to Oscar Newman) which labeled the park and civic square as a symbol and division of the community rather than as a direct asset of the privatized sector (though they technically are not truly public) was the construction of Battery Park City in New York City. Battery Park, and similarly the High Line Project, begins to deal with elements on Environmental Justice yet also begin to engage active elements of the street and defensible design strategies within the park rather than imposing a park or centralized plaza space onto the urban fabric, as is the case of Central Park.
  10. 10. THOMPSON 10 5. CENTRAL PARK + BATTERY PARK NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, USA Central Park – Figure 5.1 Battery Park – Figure 5.2
  11. 11. THOMPSON 11 Battery Park – created from landfill in the early nineteenth century – is one of the most popular urban parks within New York City. The park is located along the southern end of Manhattan Island, and as previously stated, marked the first major paradigm shift from urban plazas and parks designed as superimposed sites of the urban context to a park and plaza which begins to become integrated within the structure of the urban fabric. Central Park – though arguably the most famous city park and the most utilized park within New York City, is one of the worst park designs in terms of defensible space. Looking at our translated design elements for a positive defensible public space, Central Park breaks numbers one, three, and partially four – while not following element two to the degree required to successfully defensively define the space. One: define the territoriality of the civic zone into zones of responsibility…. not applicable to Central Park. The sheer size of Central Park and the extreme civic nature Table 1 Park Borough Total Crimes Reported Alley Pond Park Queens 44 Blue Heron Park Staten Island 0 Bronx Park Bronx 66 Canarsie Park Brooklyn 4 Central Park Manhattan 470 Crotona Park Bronx 102 Cunningham Park Queens 51 Dyker Beach Park Brooklyn 12 FDR/Midland Beach Staten Island 3 Ferry Point Park Bronx 10 Flushing Meadows Corona Park Queens 277 Forest Park Queens 32 Fort Washington Park Manhattan 6 Fresh Kills Park Staten Island 1 Great Kills Park Staten Island 3 Highbridge Park Manhattan 16 Inwood Hill Park Manhattan 14 Joseph T. McGuire Park Brooklyn 0 Kissena Park Queens 31 La Tourette Park Staten Island 0 Marine Park Brooklyn 33 Paerdegat Basin Park Brooklyn 0 Pelham Bay Park Bronx 32 Prospect Park Brooklyn 132 Randall's Island Park Manhattan 85 Riverside Park Manhattan 145 Rockaway Community Park Queens 0 Soundview Park Bronx 15 Van Cortlandt Park Bronx 31 Wards Island Park Manhattan 5 Wolfe's Pond Park Staten Island 1 TOTAL 1621
  12. 12. THOMPSON 12 which the park itself has adopted within portrays the park to become a space owned and operated by the Parks department of New York City rather than a park owned and monitored by the citizens of New York City. As Newman states, “When people begin to protect themselves as individuals and not as a community, the battle against crime is effectively lost. The indifferent crowd witnessing a violent crime is by now an American cliché” (Newman 1973). What Newman is beginning to reference in this statement is the ideology that once individuals begin to place their trust in a secure space within a security guard or security force, they no longer feel obligated to help hold a role in maintaining the upkeep and security of a public and civic space. This role now relies solely on the hired guards, and therefore, security of the space – regardless of the number of guards – is diminished exponentially from the number of individuals occupying the zone to the number of hired men. Two: position residency windows surrounding the square to territorially monitor… not directly applicable to Central Park. The sheer size of the park, all 843 acres, lends itself to become an oasis for crime within New York City. Central Park features nearly 70% more crime activity than any other park on Manhattan Island (see table 1) and nearly 40% more crime activity than any park within New York City limits – with Queens being the second highest boroughs for crime to Manhattan (NYC Park Advocates 2013). Three: adopt building forms to limit vulnerability and isolation… not directly applicable to Central Park. Giving Central Park the benefit here, the park does not directly integrate many building forms within the park itself. The park does, however, fail to deal with isolation of viewpoints in regards to the paths within the parkway itself and
  13. 13. THOMPSON 13 around elements such as bridges, etc. within the circulation path, though it does encourage circulation within the park thereby increasing the likelihood of civilian surveillance. Four: locate the civic zone within an area of urban fabric limiting access to continued threat… negligible for Central Park due to the sheer size of the park. The urban fabric directly surrounding the park has additionally become one of the most expensive real estate markets in all of the United States, and thereby should reduce the amount of crime. In reality, however, the size of the park has generated its own urban fabric within the park that counteracts the expensive fabric directly surrounding the edges of the park. Battery Park, on the other hand, more directly applies the elements of defensible space design to generate a park offering natural security and surveillance, as offices and boat docks offer a natural territoriality to the civic and public zones of the park. This naturally generated territoriality begins to deter, as Newman refers to them as, wanderers. These wanderers often linger within parks and public zones without specific purposes and therefore are often the individuals causing trouble and encouraging illegal activities within public and civic occupiable zones. Additionally, these offices and docks provide windows and surveillance encouraging design element number two as well as protecting vulnerability and isolation due to the size of the park, though the vegetation of Battery Park does shade patrons from being visible within park boundaries. This smaller area and size of the park in comparison to Central Park allows the park to be surveyed more easily as well as naturally monitored by patrons of the park. Furthermore, the bordering of the Park by
  14. 14. THOMPSON 14 Battery Pl. and State St. provide an additional level of surveillance that because of the width of Central Park does not exist within Central Park. These streets act as an addition of the sidewalk and provide constant surveillance into the park, thereby reducing the number of hired workers required to monitor and survey the park.
  15. 15. THOMPSON 15 6. INDEPENDENCE SQUARE KIEV, UKRAINE Independence Square, alongside other national squares such as Tahrir Square, begin to develop interesting dialogues regarding defensible space and begin to touch upon the topic of squares becoming centers representing the morality and beliefs of a society. These squares, when analyzed in terms of defensible space, seem to be some of the safest spaces one can occupy within the urban fabric. Why then, can these spaces turn into scenes of extreme violence and rebellion? In order to answer this question, we must first complete this analysis of elements of defensible space. One: territoriality of the square defaults to the surrounding commercial buildings. What forms an interesting relationship with Independence Square specifically is the fact that two of the buildings directly bordering the Independency Column are the National Academy of Music and the International Center of the Culture and Arts of the Trade Unions of Ukraine. These two institutions are two extremely public institutions serving Figure 6.1 Figure 6.2
  16. 16. THOMPSON 16 the masses, and therefore portray the territoriality of the squares in an extremely civic and public medium and manner. Two: windows surrounding the square directly offer viewpoints and natural surveillance of the square. When comparing Independence Square to other squares such as Central Park or Battery Park, it is clear that sight lines are extremely well preserved, as evident in Figure 6.2. The lack of trees on the site allows 24/7 surveillance of the square and monitoring by individuals within the surrounding buildings. Looking at Figure 6.1, we can also see that these commercial institutions surrounding the square begin to completely border the square, providing complete surveillance of the square and complete protection from urban crime (not counting alleys and other elements of the urban fabric not included within the square itself). Three: the buildings surrounding the square do not aid vulnerability and isolation. This concept is an extension off of the analysis for the second element of design of a defensible space. Again looking at Figure 6.1, we can see that the design of the square results from carving out the square from the urban fabric in a unique method which turns the square into a transept of Khreshchatyk St. This central road of the capital of Ukraine provides an additional method of surveillance breaking down vulnerability and isolation within the central square of the city. Furthermore, the use of loggia within the buildings directly surrounding the square provide a glacis between the centralized buildings and the square which can be occupied and utilized as a central barrier for observation of the urban square itself.
  17. 17. THOMPSON 17 Four: the civic / public zone limiting continued threat extends from the concept of the loggia interacting with the square and the transept of the square by Khreshchatyk St. These two factors, according to Newman’s theory, will directly limit the amount of crime and illegal activity occurring within Independence Square. When looking and analyzing the square for these factors, Independence Square appears to be one of the safest public areas within the city, and when compared to Central Park, it seems to become the utopia of public plazas and public parks within an urban fabric. Why then did the square transform into one of the most violent scenes of protest (see Figure 6.3) in the past five years? Figure 6.3
  18. 18. THOMPSON 18 Figure 6.4 Figure 6.5
  19. 19. THOMPSON 19 Now that we have determined the design of Independence Square, we must analyze if the design of the square impacted the brutality of these protests. We have already established the existence of a glacis within the square itself – the loggia of the surrounding commercial buildings and institutions. As crowds gather and begin to occupy the square, however, the glacis becomes an irreverent factor in protecting and creating a physical boundary space between Independence Square and the buildings, as seen in Figure 6.4, as the crowd of protestors and occupiers begin to flood into the loggia and into the space of the commercial institutions. While this situation may not present a direct danger at the moment portrayed in Figure 6.4, it can quickly turn into a violent and dangerous situation for all of those surrounding the square as depicted in Figure 6.3 showing a side-by-side comparison before and after the protests have occurred. Did the defensible space strategies allow the protest to reach this level or did this simply occur due to Independence Square’s significance as a diplomatic center and physical center of the city? In an effort to answer this question, we must begin analysis from the moment the square becomes fully occupied by protestors. This point of occupation brings about a critical point of circulation in Newman’s theory of defensible space requiring a “constant flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, … providing an element of safety” (Newman 1973). Once this constant flow of pedestrian traffic through or around Independence Square transforms into a permanent occupation of the square as seen in Figure 6.4, the square transforms from a space designed with consideration
  20. 20. THOMPSON 20 of all elements of defensible design into a square presenting an issue of uprising and revolt without a method of suppression. As previously mentioned, as architects and urban planners we hold the ability to design spaces either in a manner to encourage the freedom of protests and freedom of speech or the ability to design spaces which encourage suppression and oppression of these freedoms. By designing a space according to the principles of brutalism, one can begin to design a space that is essentially riot proof. In the case of a public square, however, especially one which can become as occupied as seen in Figure 6.4, in an effort to dismantle the threat to institutions and individuals (re-instating crime prevention) it is necessary to re-define the glacis of the space and create a new glacis within the confines of the city and pubic square. For Kiev and the riot prevention as well as for a majority of modern day cities, this is accomplished through the use of riot police as seen in Figure 6.5. These police generate a new moving wall and extend the confines of the glacis from the loggia of the constructed environment through the square to the limits of their newly created wall. The buffer zone that emerges inside of this newly created dead space becomes, as also seen in Figure 6.5, a newly generated buffer zone serving to separate the built context and environment from the disorderly and dangerous occupied square. We can therefore deduce the fact that designing spaces with defensible strategies allows us to effectively manage and control the actions of individuals and limit criminal activity within a space as long as society is using the public square and area in the pre-defined usage of the space or is following the status quo. As soon as a situation
  21. 21. THOMPSON 21 violating the status quo (riots, protests, etc.) begins to emerge within the equation of defensible space, the openness and visibility of the space can transform from a spatial design protecting citizens and institutions into a designed space accelerating the spread of uprising and brutality requiring the re-defining of spatial elements (glacis, border, edge, etc.) in an attempt to re-stabilize the public sector.
  22. 22. THOMPSON 22 7. CONCLUSION + FINDINGS After the careful analysis of Central Park, Battery Park, and Independence Square we can now deduce that incorporating principles of defensible space within the urban fabric of a city can either have a directly positive or a long-term negative impact on the institutions and citizens of the city. These enclaves of the city, originally designed to be occupied during distinct hours of the day (daylight) have over time transformed into zones which, as Rem Koolhaus states, can take advantage of a “second daytime … [by] the introduction of electricity” (Koolhaas 1994). The transformation of these enclaves into centers that can be occupied both during the day and night requires the design of them to be extremely defensible and occupiable. Without natural surveillance and a natural sense of protection, these centers would no longer be occupied zones and would simply become abandoned. Let us revisit the questions we initially asked within the Preface of this essay: do architects have a societal responsibility to design in a manner that allows for a certain degree of freedom or of oppression in an effort to direct the activities that occur in our projects? Does this question vary for the political or social institution in which we are designing for? In the case of a smaller scale, should they be designing and organizing the modern and futuristic cities of tomorrow in an attempt to control the philosophy and psychology of its occupants and citizens? While we have explored the elements of designing a defensibly safe space, we
  23. 23. THOMPSON 23 may not have been directly able to answer these questions we set out to formulate an answer to. We discovered that yes, architects and urban planners do hold a direct role in designing spaces which, in the case of Independence Square, can either encourage or diminish freedom and the freedom of expression and speech. By incorporating design strategies which allow urban plazas and parks to be freely experienced by citizens of the city in which they are located, designers are encouraging these freedoms. The extension of the glacis, as seen with the reclamation of Independence Square, begins to limit this freedom and reclaims back the urban center into the calmness and order of the urban fabric. Naturally, the project does vary per design, and therefore, the political or social institution for which designers are designing for would vary, as would the design intention of the role. With the amount of power each design may carry, as we have seen in the past case studies, it is important that architects and urban planners begin to consider the intentions of their clients and consider the morality behind their design intentions. Though the morality behind design intentions and programs of architects and urban planners may not be able to be definitively answered, as it is not possible to define a correct response to a problem, we can define the definitive purpose that architects and designers must begin to consider the consequences and safety of their respective designs. By placing design elements and imposing them into a structural or urban fabric without consideration of the interaction of their design or without any consideration of defensible design strategies, one may be designing the next Central
  24. 24. THOMPSON 24 Park within a city which therefore begins to harbor and spawn crime and violence. With simple consideration of the techniques laid out by Oscar Newman and discussed within this essay, cities can begin to design parks and plazas which can protect the general public which occupy them in normal situations and look at how to deal with radical situations which may emerge. The most essential element of defensible space, however, is its context within the ecological city. Within this self-correcting city, parks and plazas designed using defensible elements begin to serve as these enclaves of morality and societal viewpoints which self-correct the rest of society through projection of views and public oversight. In an effort to maximize the use of city public spaces including parks and plazas, architects and designers must adopt the responsibility of designing in terms of public safety and public image of what occurs within these parks and not simply shift the ideology of public safety to the enforcement of public safety officers, but begin to proactively address the issue through design.
  25. 25. THOMPSON 25 Bibliography Department, NYC Parks. Battery Park. http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/batterypark/history (accessed May 10, 2014). Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. Italy: The Monacelli Press, 1994. Newman, Oscar. Defensible Space . New York, New York: Collier Books, 1973. NYC Park Advocates. "Total Major Felony Crime Complaints by Park." New York City, NY: NYC Park Advocates, March 31, 2013. Shane, David Grahame. Recombinant Urbanism. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2005.    

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