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Introduction Gated and walled cities are almost as old as human urban settlement. With the development of nation states, public police forces and air power, walled cities became redundant as fortresses to keep foreign invaders and marauding criminal gangs out. A relatively new trend as an architectural concept is that of the gated community. Gated communities are a generic term that includes enclosed neighbourhoods that have controlled access through gates or booms across existing roads, and security villages and complexes, including lifestyle communities which provide their enclosed residents with a range of non-residential amenities such as schools, offices, shops and golf courses. Since the early 1990s gated communities have experienced phenomenal growth in South Africa, especially in the metropolitan areas of Gauteng. In South Africa gated communities have become popular primarily as a response to high levels of crime and the fear of crime. Gated communities raise interesting questions and have resulted in widespread debate around their likely future impact on urban life in South Africa. Do gated communities reduce crime? If so, should they be promoted as a legal mechanism to ESSAY URBAN FORTRESSES Gated communities as a reaction to crime KARINA LANDMAN & MARTIN SCHÖNTEICH One of the consequences of the state’s inability to protect the life and property of all its citizens—especially in developing countries—is the formation of private alternatives to crime prevention and control. Gated communities, or enclosed neighbourhoods, are one such popular alternative. This article compares the phenomenon of gated communities in two developing countries: South Africa and Brazil. Both countries are plagued by violent crime and share key human development indicators. The article also explores key issues that have been raised around gated communities in both countries. Gated communities can contribute to spatial fragmentation in urban areas, and reflect increased polarisation, fragmentation and diminished solidarity within society. By excluding other urban residents and people from surrounding neighbourhoods, gated communities can contribute to social exclusion, inhibiting the construction of social networks that form the basis of social and economic activities. KARINA LANDMAN is an urban designer at the CSIR, Building and Construction Technology department. MARTIN SCHÖNTEICH is a senior researcher at the ISS.
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combat crime, and regardless of their potential long-term impact on urban development? This article compares the phenomenon of gated communities in two developing countries: South Africa and Brazil. Both countries are plagued by high crime levels and share key human development indicators (Table 1).
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