The Safer [D]urban Core: An exploration of urban safety and the use of situational crime prevention in the inner-city of Durban, South Africa

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This thesis explores the notions of safety and the usage of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design methods for creating safer spaces within cities. The project examines the inner city of Durban specifically, grappling with the issues of crime and grime and the perceptions of the city as a space of vulnerability. The project examines the historical and current context of Durban with regards to perceptions held about the inner city. The Project then delves into the links between crime and the city and examines the extremities of crime within South Africa and Durban. It then turns to a study of crime and place theories which attempt to explain the connections between the offender, the targets and the location in which crimes take place. Particular attention is paid to possible implications for urban form. The thesis also investigates various ways in which Durban’s landowners, developers and residents have attempted to create islands of safety throughout the city, after which international and local examples of urban crime prevention are discussed. From these theories and case studies, a few principles are highlighted as guidelines for producing safer spaces. An exploration of design strategies follows. The city is analysed according to a set of elements of the city or a layering of the city on the scale of the Central Business District. This is then taken into a proposal for development. A precinct scale analysis investigates the finer details of Pickering precinct, an area notorious for criminal activity. Such detailed explorations of the built fabric are not possible at the scale of the city, but have an impact on smaller urban acupuncture proposals on a street segment scale. A number of routes that run through the precinct are then explored in terms of potential adjustments to the built fabric, in order to support pedestrian activity and safety along the routes. This project illustrates an alternative approach to creating safe spaces within the urban environment of Durban. Through providing a safe urban core, the city can allow for positive interactions to take place within common spaces and hence fulfil the role that cities have to play in fostering growth in society.

Includes bibliographical references.