Monday, September 30, 2013

CPTED on TED.Talk & Magnificent Santiago

Santiago city lights by photographer extraordinaire Roberto Contreras

Santiago, Chile is enticingly filled with contrasts fair and foul. During my visit here this week I feasted on a buffet of visual and cultural treats foremost of which was a growing CPTED movement.

Like any 6-million person metropolis, Santiago struggles with air pollution. Winter-time temperature inversions from the surrounding Andes mountains make matters worse. Yet those same mountains offer world-class skiing and snow capped vistas. Driving in from the airport, roads are lined with garbage strewn shanties. Yet elsewhere the city is clean, modern and exciting.

Security fencing is everywhere in residential neighborhoods
Oddly, residential areas are lined with security fences, razor wire and cameras. For a country with the lowest crime rates in the region, that is a mystery. Aside from reports of some gang-run pockets in the city, Santiago is one of the safest cities in Latin America. It's homicide rate is far lower than most American cities.


In Chile and other parts of Latin America, CPTED has been led by Macarena Rau and her dynamic team at PBK Consulting. Macarena is Vice President of ICA and chair of the Latin American Chapter of the International CPTED Association.

Macarena Rau delivering the first-ever CPTED presentation at TED Talks
Yesterday Macarena delivered her amazing story at a talk in Argentina - the second-ever CPTED practitioner to describe CPTED on the world stage, the first being defensible space guru Oscar Newman at the inaugural UN Habitat conference in 1976 Vancouver (technically he didn't discuss CPTED but rather declining urban conditions which is more SafeGrowth than CPTED. I digress.)

That's quite a feat!

I have admired Macarena for years. This week we presented at CPTED conferences and seminars in Santiago delivering the South American model of CPTED, a holistic and community-based version of CPTED.

I suspect holistic 2nd Generation CPTED is easier in a culture already rife with interesting urban innovations.


Activating neighborhood streets with movable flower shops
Consider this...

A program to rent street corners to confectionary and flower vendors. Each vendor determines the fiscal viability of corners. They then rent an attractive flower kiosk predesigned by municipal architects (to control the quality of the neighborhood image). Since the kiosks are easily moved, if the economics of the corner don't work the kiosk is moved.

The vendors add a valuable service to the neighborhood and they are in demand. They also add to land values and safety by locating more legitimate eyes on the street. It's private sector entrepreneurial savvy matched with public sector quality control to improve neighborhoods.

Remember the old Mayberry vision of Mom and Pop corner stores in the neighborhood? It seems the Santiaguinos have figured how to revise, beautify and activate that vision and provide jobs at the same time. Also quite a feat.

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