The contribution of architecture must go through a critical analysis of the urban layout where the buildings are located and point out the responsibility of the architect and urban planner in the act of designing from the perspective of urban security.
It is urgent to deepen the knowledge of the urban space chosen for the crime, through the agents that bring insecurity to the streets and that today if freedom is necessary, the reason why it was necessary and analysis of the prison records, aiming at the tracing of the geographic profile, with a sample of the population incarcerated for theft, for a better understanding and identification of how much urban design facilitates this action.
Architectural and urban spaces with distinct socioeconomic and cultural characteristics are imposed and the relationship between physical form, use of space and security with the theoretical support of urban design is explored. This relationship integrates from the architectural space to the surrounding space.
Countries that present a situation of violence and insecurity very accentuated and reaching frightening proportions: railings are installed around buildings and houses, electronic surveillance is imposed, as physical barriers define new ones between the ‘public’ and the ‘private’, while closed condominiums reinforce the isolation, using the architecture of fear.
In the example of the 20th century, four basic principles known as: Crime Prevention Through the Environmental Project – CPTED, according to the Portuguese translation: Criminal Prevention through the Built Space, are focused on the use of space in order to avoid situations that lead to insecurity: natural surveillance and access control in relation to pedestrian routes and roads; territorial reinforcement by distinguishing public from private areas and the existence of physical barriers, fences, lighting and maintenance: associated with the image of space, regarding conservation, they supported the basic idea of Jane Jacobs (1961).
Other authors such as Ray Jeffery (1971); Oscar Newman (1972); Patrícia and Paul Brantingham (1981); Wilson and Kelling (1982); Hillier and Hanson (1984) based their studies on this idea.
Saville and Cleveland (1997) combined the study of the physical structure of the urban space with the social characteristics of it, social cohesion, thus developing the 2nd generation of CPTED.
The physical configuration of a space is defined based on the layout that delimits the mass plane in relation to open spaces for public use; in the urban space scale, the characteristics of the soil and the way in which the buildings, streets, squares, avenues, blocks organize the built environment are initially considered, having as a minimum element of physical structure the scale of the building where the construction elements are considered: facades, roofs, windows, openings, stairs, ramps and all the elements that organize a building.
Third generation CPTED is based on social innovation and sustainability and alerts academics to the fundamental role of what it means to live, in addition to infrastructure, providing people with the opportunity to improve their personal lives, seeking more quality of life, with sustainable elements including new technologies.
The first notable effort to create the third generation of CPTED is a United Nations interregional crime and Report from the Justice Research Institute – UNICRI and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT (2011) led by architect and professor Carlos Ratti, who imagined a sustainable and green urban city from the green design strategies that have been cybernetically enhanced, in order to promote a perception of the urban the space is safe, in addition to mere concerns about crime (UNICRI, MIT, 2011, p. 19).
We are experiencing cities in loss, economic loss, cultural loss, political loss, tourist loss, social loss and others, because the dynamics of space are very active. The city is made to be lived, with its own noises and smells, exactly what identifies it, which has to do with culture and the history of art, which must be integrated with the history of the city, which is mixed with memories and to people’s history.
In fact, it turns out that the existing physical configuration is not oriented towards diversity. There are countless examples of urban ghettoization, reinforcement of cultural prejudices, reinforcement of racism and xenophobia, through building. Architecture and urbanism have the capacity to enchant, to dazzle. What do the beautiful and the useful have in common? Success.
Urban planning needs to focus on people’s problems, talent and innovation must be combined with research and research for the well-being of people.
It is necessary to expand the idea of what architecture is, as professionals molded to think about the city, we cannot lose focus on the reason why this – the city – should be geared towards people, and make use of science and technology to reduce of crime, through results-oriented management, which is based on crime prevention, seeking to reduce the current crime rates and the perception of fear, through spatial strategies that are anticipated, through design, as this conditions people’s behavior , transforming the urban landscape and legitimizing a new political philosophy to repression.
Carla V. Silva, PhD is an Urban Architect based in Ireland