Architecture of Fear

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Princeton Architectural Press, 1997 - Architecture - 320 pages
3 Reviews
"Architecture of Fear" examines the ways in which the contemporary landscape is shaped by our society's preoccupation with fear, as apparent in home design, security systems, gated communities, semi-public spaces (shopping malls, theme parks, casinos, office atriums), zoning regulations, and cyberspace. This fixation also manifests itself in efforts to provide public parks but control the problem of homelessness. The essayists in "Architecture of Fear" explain that such disjointed efforts exacerbate rather than eradicate the sources and perception of fear and insecurity. Thus, in contrast to alarmist, apocalyptic treatments, the contributors offer concrete, level-headed suggestions for proaction, not reaction, to counter both real (actual crime) and perceived (media-magnified) problems in contemporary society.

Contributors Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder, John Chase, Michael Dear and Jurgen von Mahs, Fred Dewey, Nan Ellin, Dora Epstein, Steven Flusty, Udo Greinacher, Jane Harrison, Richard Ingersoll, Charles Jencks, Peter Marcuse, Kevin Sites, Sharon Sutton, Lois Takahashi, Anne Troutman, David Turnbull, Margaret Wertheim, Richard Sennett, and Julius Shulman approach the topic of architecture and fear from a variety of angles: 'Building Paranoia, ''Addressing Fear through Community Empowerment, ''Cyburbanism as a Way of Life, ' and 'Walls of Fear and Walls of Support, ' to name just a few.


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This book raises some interesting points about public architecture as well as giving a strong background in the psychology of space and coded behaviour. The variety of writing and presentation styles is in some instance refreshing. Julius Shulman’s photo essay for example contains some interesting ideas; as does the chapter written as a walkthrough a changing neighbourhood.
Where this book falls down however is in its insistence to push this idea of variety beyond the boundary of interest and usefulness. The inclusion of a full set of photos of someone dancing the letters of American police codes is almost ridiculous. Dance has never been a medium suited to print anyway and certainly has nothing to do with the topic of this book. Other essay’s seem to also be included for shock or surprise value and are often over opinionated and bias which is surprising given that they are meant to be intellectual studies.
Despite all this however I did still find this book useful. It is one of the only works I have found which study this side of architecture and as such it is worth reading, it could however have been just as interesting and half the price had they cut out the rubbish.

Selected pages


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18
Section 19

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 20

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About the author (1997)

Nan Ellin is the director of the Ph.D. program at the College of Design at Arizona State University, the editor of "Architecture of Fear", and the associate editor of the forthcoming "Encyclopedia of Urban Studies".

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