The idea of ‘secure by design’ is becoming increasingly common within planning, design and architecture. To understand and interpret what is meant by ‘secure by design’ and the accompanying ‘securitisation agenda’ is also problematic given that these phrases continue to be used haphazardly as political sound bites to unsystematically describe a wide range of initiatives and proposals.
The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s pioneered investigative frameworks into cultural capital and symbolic violence to reveal the dynamics of power relations in social life. One significant use of culture in perpetuating and concealing power is through the practice of architecture. Bourdieu sees an architect’s creative and unique design as something only available to the upper echelons of society. The majority of people are forced to settle for mass-produced standard designs. Though it may be less than obvious, the cultural currency ascribed to an architect’s unique design has significant impacts on maintaining cultural and therefore societal superiority.
The underprivileged quarter of Gare in Saint-Denis, Paris will become a zone à urbaniser en priorité (ZUP) for investigations led by WHAT_architecture into ‘secure by design’. Could architecture reduce crime? If so, what forms of crime? How do the police map crime? How does planning and licencing affect crime? What is a safe-haven building? What about drugs? Lighting? Surveillance? Gated communities? What is crime versus anti-social behaviour? Can we adopt rigourous forensic techniques to uncover new strategies for social improvement? Is gentrification all good? Could the ‘Crime and the city solution’ project really result in Batman Buildings that save the city? Design police, does the city really need saving?
A secure city is a sustainable one. Terrorism and other threats to the urban environment directly oppose social and economic sustainability initiatives. Research has been conducted that analyses how the secure by design agenda has impacted the built environment. However, a clear research gap exists with respect to how securitisation influences architectural planning of new buildings.
WHAT_architecture with Aaron Kramer / Kings College 2011