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Oscar Newman was an architect and city
planner known internationally for his work in
community planning, assisted housing, crime
prevention, and racial integration.
Defensible Space
The Concept:

“All Defensible space program have a common purpose, ie they restructure the
physical layout of communities to allow residents to control areas around their
The salient features of Newman‟s theory are:
• Natural surveillance
• Image
•Mileau (other features affecting security).
Entry shared by smaller
number of familes.


Continuous strip of
Parking disassociates

Green open spaces

Natural surveillance through sensitive placement of exterior as well as

interior spaces.
Proximity of windows to outdoor zones inhibit the occurrence of crimes.
“Windows and doorways, when facing streets, extend the zone of residents'
territorial commitments.

•Assignment of specific zones to different resident groups.

Housing units:

•All interior spaces within

the private domain of the
•All grounds around
private unit are for
family‟s private use
•Direct abutment between
grounds and sidewalk
•Domain of house
encompasses street
Row House development

Effect of building type on residents

control of streets.

All grounds except for streets and

sidewalks assigned to individual
Front lawns= semi-private
Back yards= private as only accessible
from units
Sidewalks and parking area considered
semi-public since the lawn abuts it.
•Private space only within
Interior lobby, stairs and
corridors are semi-private
Grounds can be
designated to a single
family but are generally
used by all families in the
Smaller no of families share
interior circulation and
Street is within the sphere
of influence of dwellings.
Walk Up Apartments •Smaller number of entry points
ensure surveillance
•Shared by greater number of
families, therefore lack of
•Long deep internal corridor creates
security issues.

• More entry points

• smaller number of families utilizing
single entry point equals to greater

Adoption of building forms that dispel notions about the perceived

vulnerability and isolation of a particular community which puts them at a
greater risk of criminal activities.
•Multiple entry
points creating
issues of control.
•Enclosed public
space which can
•Private space exists only within the
apartment units
•The interior circulation areas and the
grounds are public
•There is no association between
buildings and street

Corridors commonly shared – semi-public

Families claim to a territory diminishes

proportionately as number of families sharing
that claim increases.


Composite of fear map

Plan for
conversion of
central area
into a facility
serving elderly,
young children
and teens.
Thus reducing
Clason Point: results
from a model based
on Oscar Newmans
Five Oaks Community
Dayton, Ohio
Five oaks is a residential area, located
north of downtown. An expressway
connects downtown to suburbs and
the exit ramp is located at the foot of
the community.

•Heavy through traffic
•Rising crime
• Presence of drug dealers and prostitutes
•Single family homes converted to multi family use.
Due to its location and mixed socioeconomic makeup Five Oaks was
seen as an ideal community for drug dealing and other notorious

Five Oaks
These problems became typical of other urban communities near the
downtown core. The community had entered into a spiral of decline that
appeared irreversible and a domino effect on other communities was

Deteriorated two-storey walk up

Five Oaks
The city restructured the physical layout of Five Oaks to create ten mini-
neighborhoods (this can be directly interpreted into our “mohalla” system)

This community emphasized the following


•A mini-neighborhood should share similar

housing characteristics: building type, size, lot
size, architectural style etc

Five Oaks
•The optimal configuration for a •Cul-de-sac configurations
mini-neighborhood is a Greek should not be too large as it
cross, a vertical with two would generate unnecessary
horizontals. internal traffic

•Mini-neighborhoods and their

access arterials should be
designed to facilitate access but
discourage through-traffic.
•a mini-neighborhood should
consist of a grouping of no more
than three to six streets
Five Oaks
Along with reductions in crime by 1.2 percent following the restructuring of Five
Oaks, housing sales increased by 55 percent and housing values increased as a
direct result of the residents exercising control on their streets and environment.

Owners remodeling their houses with the help of Portal gates defining mini neighbourhoods.
readily available loans and subsidies.

Oscar Newman believed that Five Oaks was typical of urban communities
throughout the country and had created a positive „ripple effect‟ on surrounding
communities. This process can be replicated at low cost, with immediate
effectiveness, and with the support of residents, city staff, and local politicians.

Five Oaks
Designing a “defensible space” requires the cultivation of “community spirit”
and a certain degree of control over any spaces deemed “public”.

The sense of responsibility that comes with private ownership consequently leads
to a greater degree of security and maintenance.

Five Oaks
Orangi Pilot Project
Orangi is the largest katchi abadi or unplanned settlement in Karachi.
People began living in the area in 1965 and after 1972, it grew rapidly.

The population is drawn from a wide range of immigrant groups from India,
Bangladesh, the Punjab, the northern areas of Pakistan, and local people. Most find
employment as labourers, skilled workers, artisans, shopkeepers or clerks.

Karachi City : Orangi town map

17. Orangi town OPP
A cluster of 113 settlements with a population of one million
The issues that plagued the community were understood yet a pro-action
approach was never considered due to:

•Psychological barrier,
•Economic barrier,
•Technical barrier,
•Sociological barrier

An approach to develop the strength of the community was adopted. Whilst

individuals had an important part to play, this approach saw effective community
involvement with support from voluntary groups.
The Orangi Project became
famous for its Low Cost
Sanitation Program that
enabled low income families
to construct and maintain an
underground sewage system
with their own funds and
under their own management.

Before After

Technical support is provided and the residents are trained while OPP team
supervises work.
The outcome is a sewerage free lanes, which encourages pedestrian activity.
It brings forth Newmans theory of greater surveillance and “eyes on the street”.
Component sharing model

Community strengths

community self help meetings.

Defensible space plans require a

high degree of:
•Community participation
•Public policy implementation Training surveying

OPP Institution‟s role is
to act as a catalyst for
change in the
community. It observes
and supports the
peoples initiative and
teaches them self
Aerial view

Orangi sprung into a slum due to unmanaged uncontrolled settlement by

migrants. Subsequent lack of attention and resources led this
disenfranchised but highly political community to muster self support and
courage for its own survival and growth.
Karachi, Pakistan
Located on the outskirts of the city , the success of this particular
scheme is primarily due to its introverted nature. The
development was initiated to accommodate a particular ethnic
group that were bound together by strong cultural and socio-
economic links. The role of communal living thus played an
essential part in the housing scheme. The spatial organization as
well aesthetic of the area was built upon the „Mohalla‟ AL-AZHAR
The scheme complied with Oscar Newmans approach to increase
tenants surveillance of surrounding spaces through greater
identification of the area.
Reduced number of entry points allow for greater control and
identification of outsiders.

Master plan NODE


Organised vehicular
circulation prevents
heavy traffic and clearly
demarcates the highly
used pedestrian zones.

Apartment plan

Central circulation overlooking

sehan and court.
Singular entry shared by 10 families. Clear definition of control points
and visibilty of entry point from multiple levels.
The development is divided
into distinct neighbourhoods.
Pedestrian movement
The housing units are set
around plazas, gardens and
courtyards, linked by
ceremonial pathways.

Creation of a singular spine

effectively organizes and
controls the circulation and
widening the path allows for
multiple activities to take
place on it. This prevents the
creation of unwanted zones.


The apartments themselves are entered through the shared courtyards-

the sehan, an open to sky space with perforated screens- maintaining
privacy yet allowing visibility to entry points.
This design approach conforms to the defensible space concept where
smaller groupings of families are responsible for specific zones enhancing a
sense of proprietary amongst the residents
of the
„sehan‟ from
levels makes
this a secure
space by
A gated

A layered sequence of spaces
leads from the public space to
the increasingly private. From
the square and gardens to the
eight different clusters of

Screens to
provide privacy
for the
households while
allowing visibilty
of outdoor areas.
Use of material enhances the
physical appearance of the space
and thus uplifts the general image.
This inculcates a sense of pride in the
The development is divided into distinct neighbourhoods. The housing
units are set around plazas, gardens and courtyards, linked by
ceremonial pathways.

The architects developed it with
close consultation from the
residents. Thus the involvement of
the community in designing the
space is evident.

Construction systems were thus

kept simple, controlled by the
community, minimising costs and
increasing influence and interest.
The design concept for the housing at Al-Azhar was to provide the
inhabitants a higher standard of living, and enhance the feeling of
community amongst them. Of prime importance was the fact that the
home becomes an expression of identity and self-pride for the individual

SeaView Township
Defence, Phase V
The Sea View
Township was
established between
1970-1974, under the
authority of Pakistan
Defense Officers
Housing Authority,

A belt of
residential walkups
located along the
Each Scheme
contains plots
of 240 sq yards
in categories of
A, B, C and D .
The divisions
are in terms of
total area
covered with A
being minimum
area and D the
covered area
across the

Contrasts with Al-

Azhar, which
pedestrian movement
The initial plan was to
intersperse residential strips
with green breathing
spaces. However shortage
of water prevented this
concept from being
implemented and “open
spaces” were placed under
the charge of the users.
Greater sense of ownership
and territorial definitions
developed as a result.
Personal maintenance and
extending the owners
sphere of influence also
reduced pressure on
managing body.
Pin wheel layout
ensures privacy
of residences
while allowing
for views.

100‟ between
each housing
Consequently, grouping together of similar housing units increases the
sense of familiarity and thus of communal living.

Central circulation
core shared by 9
Low 3‟-4‟ high
boundary walls.
Mostly defined by
Due to the configuration of the
apartments, zones of public,
semi-private and private are

Public semi-private private

Each unit is entered via a common staircase with a singular landing
shared by upto three families. This allows for greater surveillance as
residents are familiar with their neighbours and thus any intruder
would be identified with ease.
The use of shared landings, especially in walkup apartments can be
positive but only if shared by a smaller number of families.
By extending their sphere of influence beyond their apartment, they
personalize the area immediately before their private zone, creating
a well maintained semi-private space.
“Windows and
doorways, when
facing streets, extend
the zone of residents'

•Extension of the sphere of influence of a residential building to include

the street. Newman seems to partially endorse the new urbanist theory
that heavy pedestrian traffic creates “eyes on the street” and thus
enhances security. He writes that housing project lobbies should face
public streets, because "streets provide security in the form of pedestrian
and vehicular movements.
Large open areas utilised by
Front lawns families and children playing
belonging to football. Because of the
individual families Vehicular path- grounds disassociation with
are designated used mainly by any indoor space it is
semi-private residents so light deemed public.
Panorama from apartment rooftop
“Defensible Space Programs help people in preserving areas in which they can
realize their commonly held values and lifestyle.”

Defensible Space relies on self help rather than on government intervention. This
makes it a more applicable co0ncept in our situation for it doesn‟t become
venerable to governments withdrawal of support.

•It depends on residents involvement to reduce crime

• it has the ability to bring people of different incomes and race together in a
mutually beneficial union.
•For low-income people defensible space provides an opportunity to see how their
actions can lead to upward mobility.