Alexander Reed Kelly
November 2, 2012
Anna Minton took a tour of an East London housing estate that received a Secured by Design award for its “small windows, reinforced steel doors and grey, aluminium, military-style roofs. The overall effect,” she says of results that will be published in a forthcoming report, “was oppressive.”
Like barnacles on a ship’s hull, London is accumulating the trappings of a high-security police state. The consequences for the city’s inhabitants, Minton reports, is a mental life characterized by increasing anxiety.
City officials point to the idea of “defensible space,” a concept popularized by 1970s American architect and town planner Oscar Newman, to argue that the increased presence of security cameras (known as CCTV), building checkpoints and armed guards—in essence, building security measures directly into homes, shopping centers and neighborhoods—makes the city safer.
“Both in the U.S. and in Britain, the idea of defensible space was very popular because it provided a simple solution,” Minton says.