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Fortification of Home: Fear as an Obstacle to the Construction of Socially Sustainable Neighbourhoods

Part 2 Dissertation 2011
Josh Spillane
University of Queensland | Australia
Architecture should not be considered independently of the cultural environment in which it is created. We have descended into an environment of neat chaos, one full of uncontrolled complexity, confusion and fear. As a primary emotion, fear can be a powerful motivator of action, and our ability to articulately manipulate the environments we occupy allows for the manifestation of paranoia into something permanent. And through the expression of external residential architecture in Australia, it is clear that security has become the concern of our day. We have become obsessed with it.

This architectural dissertation outlines the meaning behind an increasing level of fortification of residential dwellings, and the physical, psychological and social effects this has on the communities it shapes. In the Australian residential environment, fear has become a point of
departure in the design of the public-private threshold and this study explores the relationships between this fear, identity and the home, drawing upon relationships between crime prevention
and spatial qualities and between the desire for privacy and the control of space. The study recognises that there are cultural ideas embedded in the objects we create, and in the fortification of place and contribute to a dwelling’s sense of freedom. However, this fortification is an obstacle to the construction of socially sustainable neighbourhoods as it can inhibit incidental
interaction between neighbours. The fortification of home also reinforces a number of sociospatial dichotomies such as the safe or the unsafe, and privacy or community. This is linked with an increasing attitude towards individualism and a decreasing emphasis on social responsibility, and is a topic that must be addressed to reach a higher level of sustainability in all aspects.

The focus of this study is on the collection of relevant theory for the topic, compilation of existing literature on the defence of space and a critical analysis of the observations and correlations made, drawing upon various architectural case studies.

Josh Spillane

Nicole Sully
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