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Defensible Space



Defensible Space was a two day seminar that looked at the ‘Architectures of Fear’, the ways that systems are designed to shape users’ behaviour – with emphasis on the ‘control of behavior’.

Presented for students within the Surveillant Architecture seminar and re-active platform, atelier fuer multimedia&performance, KHM Koeln

In his essay ‘Building Paranoia: The Proliferation of Interdictory Space and the Erosion of Spatial Justice’ (published in Architecture of Fear, Princeton Architectural Press) geographer Stephen Flusty outlines his elaborate taxonomy of defensible space. ‘Stealthy spaces’ are ones that cannot be found, ‘slippery spaces’ are ones that cannot be reached, ‘prickly spaces’ cannot be comfortably occupied and ‘jittery spaces’ are spaces that cannot be utilized unobserved.

During this two day seminar, Flusty’s taxonomies were introduced. Starting with a theoretical lecture, examples of control architectures, such as shopping malls, business plazas, anti-homeless furniture, anti-protester security systems and gated communities, were shown to illustrate the emergence of new urban borders.

The┬áDefensible Space┬álecture was followed by a screening of ‘Live Safely in Europe’, a 52 minute documentary by Austrian artist Emmanual Danesch about gated communities in Europe.

In the second day we went out into the city and annotated various urban spaces using Flusty’s categorizations. Signs with the words ‘prickly’, ‘stealthy’, ‘slippery’, ‘crusty’ and ‘jittery’ were held in front of various architectural sites. Because of the international nature of the workshop group, it was decided to translate Flusty’s words into other languages, Finnish, German, Spanish, French and Italian.