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  • Writer's pictureMich Zhi Xin

Design for Vulnerable: Improving Public Open Space Resilience

Participated in a very well-organized bilingual roundtable (EN-ES) on "Architecture, Infrastructure, Security and Urban Planning" last week, by Design for Vulnerables.

A group of dedicated researchers and architecture students from the TECNOLÓGICO DE MONTERREY hosted the roundtable for global experts to share views on the aspects of the built environment that impact the perception of security in a community, as well as the roles of architects, and urban designers in developing a built environment inside the city, for them to better improve the quality of life of San Pedro community in Chihuahua.

When I was studying urban resilience, I was intrigued by the case of the Japanese cities, where they remove the public waste bins and garbage cans following the 1995 sarin gas attacks by the Aum Shinrikyo cult. Trash bins were also removed in London and Paris following bombings in the 1980s and 1990s. That is when I realized that urban design elements do play an important role in terrorism and crime prevention.

My sharing is centered around Public Open Space resilience. Together with Carlos Augusto Fuerte Lau, Ghazaleh Sadat Ghoreishi, and Jaime Ovando Cid, we had a great discussion session, and I would like to pinpoint some design strategies for reforming community spaces for crime prevention:

1) Access Control: Mechanical (Gated community) /Natural (Landscape design)

Of course, as a designer I would prefer Natural access control, through manipulation of environments using landscape design, allowing for fewer access routes and pathways in reaching the targets

2) Surveillance:

Achievable through technological surveillance such as cameras and street lighting, but also through design such as landscaping, well-placed sitting areas, better zoning plans to include more mixed-use functions, encouraging public surveillance, as well as ensuring visual continuity in walkways, giving a sense of safety.

3) Territorial reinforcement:

Design spaces to improve the sense of ownership for citizens, will improve community resilience and allow them to actively maintain the areas themselves, making these spaces unwelcome to outside offenders.

We can do our parts as designers, however, ultimately, we will need to collectively transform systems that are inequitable, support more civic engagement, build mutual trust between different groups of society and improve social inclusion!


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