Title page for ETD etd-1218101-192458

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Barreto, Gustavo A.
URN etd-1218101-192458
Title Building Community: An Environmental Approach to Crime Prevention
Degree Master of Landscape Architecture (M.L.A.)
Department Landscape Architecture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bruce G. Sharky Committee Chair
Anne M. Spafford Committee Member
Miles E. Richardson Committee Member
  • territoriality in neighborhoods
  • safe neighborhoods
Date of Defense 2001-12-04
Availability unrestricted
Crime cannot be understood as a single-solution problem. Participation of the community is important to complement and make more efficient any program of crime control by police authorities or any other law enforcement agency.

This thesis is intended to create consciousness among designers of the urban environment of their social role. Cities must include places to promote community interaction and formation of social bonds. As social bonds among residents increase, and bonds with the place begin building a sense of territoriality in the community, the residents become active defenders of the place against crime.

A theory summary presents different and complementary points of view, some focused directly to urban and landscape design such as those stated by Jane Jacobs, Clare Cooper Marcus, Donald Appleyard, and Oscar Newman. Others focused to social and psychological aspects of the relation between humans and environment, for example those presented by Erving Goffman, Edward Hall, Amos Rapaport, Irwin Altman, and Setha Low.

A field study is presented to complement the theory review. It was based on two inner city neighborhoods in Orlando, Florida. The data used came from Orlando Police Department, FBI, and U.S. Department of Justice crime and victimization reports. The population characteristics were analyzed based on the 2000 U.S. Census.

From the study, a general conclusion is that social characteristics of the population in any given neighborhood such as poverty, high percentage of broken families, unemployment, social heterogeneity, large numbers of young population, and large proportion of rented homes create environments highly susceptible of crime. But social characteristics are not the only aspects determining crime. Physical layout of the neighborhood plays also an important role in preventing or promoting crime. In spite of the fact that both neighborhoods had similar social characteristics, crime was considerably higher in the neighborhood where the physical structure neglected possibilities for neighbors to interact and use public areas.

Theories and other information presented is finally synthesized into design guidelines, which are related specifically to the function of landscape architects and other designers as shapers of cities and societies.

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