Friday, April 2, 2010

Chile's Earthquake and CPTED

Last month's earthquake devastation in Chile

Macarena Rau is a board member with the International CPTED Association from Santiago, Chile and president of their chapter in Latin America. Here is a short excerpt from her article in the upcoming CPTED Perspective newsletter.
At 03:34 in the morning of February 27th, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit a vast area of Chile. Its epicenter was located 100 miles northwest of the city of ConcepciĆ³n. Later, a deadly tsunami impacted the Chilean coast, devastating a number of coastal towns.  According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs the quake and tsunami caused 495 deaths and a considerable number of displaced and homeless. News photos of the earthquake are online here.

Under these circumstances recall what CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) and architecture tells us about one particular public space – the Town Square. Public squares are a form of outdoor urban room.

Jane Jacobs, in her visionary work “Death and Life of Great American Cities” already posed the importance of human contact to fight against urban insecurity. Jacobs, as the forerunner of CPTED, affirmed the need for building cities to foster human integration. She upheld that the sidewalks and public spaces like Town Squares need to stop being abstract areas and instead become meeting grounds for positive human contact. 

In Chile people...have had to organize themselves to face the risk of becoming victims of crimes and natural disasters. Public spaces like squares provide the ideal social gathering place for this too.

Macarena's full article will appear in the January-April issue of CPTED Perspective.

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