Which gated communities are there in London?


Henning F├╝ller

To person

Dr. phil., born 1977; Academic Council (a.Z.) at the Institute for Geography, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Kochstrasse 4/4, 91054 Erlangen. [email protected]

Georg Glasze

To person

Dr. rer. nat., born 1969; Professor of Cultural Geography at the FA University Erlangen-Nuremberg (see above). [email protected]

Hardly any other urban development phenomenon has received more media attention since the late 1990s than new settlements and apartment complexes that are separated from their surroundings by gates, fences or walls. In the meantime, the reporting in the German-speaking media has declined, probably also because a feared economic situation of so-called gated communities has not come true in Germany. However, the visibly fenced off and secured housing estates are only a particularly conspicuous form of the phenomenon of segregated living. Recent research indicates that exclusive housing estates are shaped differently depending on the social, cultural or regulatory environment and that the visibly fenced forms mostly remain the exception. Social demarcation in the living area also occurs through the creation of symbolically marked rooms. [1]

Focusing the debate on visible fences and walls alone does not do justice to the different forms of social demarcation in the living area. For the question of current processes of demarcation in the city, it is worthwhile to look at developments on the real estate market beyond the obvious gated communities to consider.

Internal differentiation of the urban

Questions about the internal differentiation of the city, about demarcation movements and the drawing of boundaries have been at the center of interest in urban social science research since its institutionalization in the late 19th century. The city became a scientific problem at the moment when, with industrialization, workers came to the cities in large numbers and the old class order began to dissolve once and for all. Different lifestyles and classes now increasingly clashed. The first work on urban sociology developed out of an interest in the possible consequences of this concentration. [2] At the center of the influential so-called Chicago School was the attempt to describe the underlying patterns of order according to which the various groups and income groups in the modern city are sorted. [3] The question of whether the segregation patterns worked out at the example of Chicago are still valid today, or to what extent we are dealing with a "fragmented urban landscape" of postmodernism, shapes urban research to this day. [4]

Questions of internal differentiation and the understanding of visible and invisible boundaries in the city are therefore at the core of urban research. There is correspondingly great interest in urban planning forms of social segregation processes. The so-called gated communities represent a form that has recently received a lot of attention.

Gated communities and European precursors

The designation of visibly demarcated and in many cases guarded residential complexes as gated community has its origin in the USA. The real estate industry in North America has been marketing the private sector of developern planned and developed suburban (mostly single-family) settlements as communities. The choice of this term was no accident, because community stands in English not only for community or neighborhood, but also conveys the connotation of "community". For marketing reasons, the newly built settlements were contrasted with the supposedly anonymous life in the centers.

The term community but is a euphemism. Various studies have shown that social cohesion is no greater within closed and guarded neighborhoods than outside. With the addition gated the real estate advertising provided those parts of these settlements that were provided with a barrier and access controls as a sales-promoting argument and were also supposed to promise security.

In essence, it is about privately developed housing estates. It would therefore be more appropriate to use the (admittedly somewhat sober) term "privately or jointly organized and guarded housing estates and complexes". In the United States, the number of privately organized settlements has increased rapidly since the beginning of the 20th century. For 2002, the Community Association of America estimates that approximately 47 million, or one sixth of the US population, live in one of the 230,000 or more privately owned neighborhoods, with roughly one in five of these settlements gated is. [5]

However, privately developed and closed residential complexes are not a North American invention. It can be shown that in the rapidly growing European metropolises of the 19th century, private investors developed housing estates, the conception of which was in many ways similar to contemporary ones gated communities is similar: For example, villa colonies that emerged from the 1860s in what was then the area around Berlin were developed by private investors and companies. They built roads, modeled and staged the landscape and ensured the technical development. Many facilities such as schools, electricity and gas supply were (initially) organized privately or jointly and not communally.

The colonies were not fenced in or guarded, but the builders ensured the exclusive character through building and design regulations by means of land register entries and private law agreements (for example, financially weaker households were excluded by the prohibition of multi-family houses).

In Paris from the middle of the 19th century the Villas: privately developed, jointly managed and closed residential areas like the Villa Montmorency in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. An owners' association has been taking care of the management and regulation of the communal areas here since 1853. To this day the area is fenced and guarded. In the West End of London, exclusive settlements had emerged since the beginning of the 19th century, the entrances to which were closed and some were guarded. One could therefore use the North American gated communities even judge it as a European invention with a certain plausibility. [6]

In contrast to the USA, the development of such privately developed and organized housing estates in Europe came to a standstill with the strengthening of municipal welfare state structures in the 20th century, and only recently have privately developed and privately organized, guarded companies emerged in some European countries Housing complexes. [7]

Types of guarded residential complexes

After the media and scientific examination of gated communities In the 1990s, the focus was initially on developments in the USA. From the end of the 1990s, urban development developments in numerous other regions of the world came into focus, initially often seen as an expansion or globalization of the model of gated communities have been described. Detailed studies show that role models from the USA are indeed influential and to some extent have become a blueprint for the development of housing estates available worldwide - similar to shopping centers for retail projects since the 1970s. At the same time, however, these studies indicate that there are a large number of different urban planning, socio-political and socio-economic contexts in which different forms of private or community organization of neighborhoods are combined with, in turn, different forms of isolation and surveillance.

In Saudi Arabia, at the request of the government, western companies operating in the country have locked and guarded for their workers from Europe, the USA and the Levant compounds erected, whose urban-morphological structures often denote gated communities in the US are similar.

In the rapidly growing metropolises of China, various forms of guarded and jointly or privately organized living are emerging side by side: For example, rural settlements that were jointly managed are becoming so-called in the course of urbanization urban villages. The use of the land remains in the hands of the (former) villagers and in some cases they develop guarded apartment complexes that they rent out at a profit. In addition, there are self-contained workers' estates run by companies and luxurious, guarded, single-family housing estates are emerging on the outskirts of the metropolises.

In South Africa and some Latin American countries there are inner-city apartment complexes and suburban single-family housing estates that have been and are planned and marketed as guarded and jointly managed neighborhoods. In addition, new communal forms of self-administration are also developing in existing neighborhoods, which for example organize subsequent delimitation and monitoring structures. [8]