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Architecture as Crime Control

04 December 2001

Vol. 111

Building on work in architectural theory, this Article demonstrates how additional attention to cities, neighborhoods, and individual buildings can reduce criminal activity. The field of cyberlaw has been transformed by the insight that architecture can regulate behavior in cyberspace; this insight will now be applied to the regulation of behavior in real space. The instinct of many lawyers, however, is to focus on legal rules, without thinking about the constraint of physical space. Ironically, even an architectural problem in crime control - "broken windows" - has prompted legal, not architectural solutions. Four architectural concepts are considered: increasing an area's natural surveillance (its visibility and susceptibility to monitoring by private citizens); introducing territoriality (by demarcating private and semiprivate spaces); reducing social isolation; and protecting potential targets. Some of these mechanisms are subtle, often times invisible, methods that prevent criminal activity.

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