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Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading

Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading

While perusing news stories on creative urban design the other day I came across an article about a program that I recognized from last year’s popular documentary, Urbanized. South Africa’s Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU), a community-based initiative, was a result of a highly-focused collaboration between the City of Cape Town, the German Development Bank, the Province of the Western Cape, the South African Treasury and the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF). This collaboration gave rise to the identification of existing crime hotspots within the Khayelitsha township, which in turn allowed the program to create plans for Safe Node Areas.

I’m particularly interested and excited by the use of urban design principles in the VPUU program to transform these crime hotspots into the Safe Nodes. Below are site-specific interventions highlighted by the VPUU program website.

VPUU Site specific interventions:

  • The notion of introducing places that develop an identity for the Safe Node Areas such as Active Boxes, or Urban parks;
  • Development of Schools into community learning and development centers;
  • Construction of sports and recreational sites;
  • Mixed used facilities ranging from work live units to multipurpose centers;
  • Safe pedestrian Walkways;
  • Infill housing.

The VPUU program focused on activating public spaces in a way that served not only to create safe zones, but also to garner a sense of community and pride. According to Michael Krause, VPUU’s team leader, “The program is credited with having a significant impact on crime in parts of Khayelitsha. A 20% decrease in violent crime was recorded between April 2008 and March 2009, and the township’s murder rate dropped by a third in the same time period.”

“How does this program relate to CPTED?” I wondered to myself.

I looked a little deeper and realized that the VPUU program’s development of the Urban Design Principles on a Safe Node was actually based on the principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), a methodology that I am intimately familiar with, given my work with Orlando, Florida’s Sunview Terrace Community.

For more on CPTED, read about Tumbler Ridge, the first fully-CPTED-designed community.


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Multi-Generational Housing

I was talking to a colleague today about housing in different countries. She had just returned from a trip to Germany and had commented on the popularity of multi-generational housing and the interesting way that the different generations move through the house over time.

Multi-generational housing in Germany.

One aspect that really stuck with me was the fact that it is very common, particularly in towns and villages outside of the urban centers, for families to reside in 2-3 story-houses with the older generation living on the ground level, and younger generations above. Commonly, each floor of the house can be self-contained, including at a minimum a bathroom, kitchen, dining room, and living spaces. There seems to be a wonderful movement that has been finely choreographed over many generations- as one generation ages and ultimately passes, the next moves down into the first floor, making room for the new adults to take over the top floor(s) as their first apartment.

Of course, this relies on the assumption that each generation will stay in their home-town, but absences such as college, or short-term employment abroad are common and have made this multigenerational household less common. This, adding to the greying society (Germany’s birth rate has slowed and experts predict that, by 2050, 60+ Germans will constitute more than 50% of the population), creates an ideal environment for a new model: the non-familial multigenerational house.

As an example, I looked to an Ashoka Fellow (Ashoka is a leading promoter of social entrpreneurship) who has taken her ow

16% of US Americans live in multi-generational households.

n experience and transformed it into a multi-generational housing model that brings isolated groups (only children, single parents, the elderly) together for a collaborative-living community. These communities are striving to mimic the established intergenerational support structures within families that have been eroding in modern Germany. Check out more information here.

So how common is multi-generational housing in the U.S.? I looked at the Pew Research Center’s studies on the trends of multigenerational housing in the U.S. and was surprised by the results.

Upward trend of multi-generational housing.Multigenerational housing made up 16% of household types in 2008, but the downward trend in this household type is reversing, with more generations coming together for economic and social reasons. For reasons why, check out the Pew Center’s article, “The Return of the Multi-Generational Family Household.”

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© Professor Bob Hahn