Reducing Vulnerabilities through Urban Design

Interventions for resilience in communities at risk 1

Authored by: Diane E. Davis

The New Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138302129
eBook ISBN: 9780203731932
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter addresses the potential of urban design to reduce vulnerabilities in disadvantaged communities. It does so by providing an analysis of spatial practices to reduce risk and generate resilience in cities of Latin America and Africa facing chronic violence. Although not unique to cities of the Global South, urban violence has become an everyday fact of life in a wide variety of settings characterized by poverty, income inequality, informality, and other structural conditions of social exclusion. This chapter documents: (1) the scale, location, and static versus kinetic nature of spatial interventions in these highly vulnerable situations; (2) how they have been exported from the Global North to the Global South; and (3) the role played by multilateral institutions, state authorities, city planners, and citizen organizations in formulating and mediating such policies. The chapter concludes with a summary of the urban design strategies and tactics that have been most successful in reducing risk, linking urban design’s transformative potentials to move beyond spatially targeted situational crime prevention programs like CPTED, and to adopt socio-spatial interventions that strengthen horizontal and vertical connections among stakeholders at the scale of the neighborhood and beyond.

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