- Anyone familiar with suburbia has encountered gated residential
areas--a tract-housing neighborhood or an apartment complex is
surrounded by a fence, and has entrance gates. Residents have remote
controls in their cars, and guests can use a touchpad phone at the
gate to let their host know of their arrival--then the host can "buzz"
And so much for security--you can walk (or ride a bike) into one of
those areas in a second due to gaping holes. You only get the security
clearance if you're in a car. :)
Granted, some of those gated apartment complexes have very respectable
buildings: well-built, attractive, 3-story buildings, each about 4
apartments wide (thus, 12 apartments per buildling). Unfortunately,
the swaths of parking between and around them kinda messes the whole
thing up. :)
I was once in Pozuelo, a relatively pedestrian-friendly suburb of
Madrid. I went to a gated apartment complex there. Their gate? A
walk-through gate with an electronic lock and a phone to ring your
host. The gate goes into a center courtyard/pool area, and allows
access to the apartments. This is how I can envision gated areas in
What we should *not* have in Carfree is gated areas so big they're
awkward to walk/bike around--like we have here.
I assume that if some private developer wants to be radically
paranoid, they can build a district with card/phone access to get off
the main boulevard--and fence in the two "halves" of the district. On
the other hand, that would be like making a carfree version of
suburbia, and I hope that noone would want to live in such a place.
I would hope that, while gated apartment bulidings would still exist
to make the courtyard private, we would not have to be so
security-paranoid, since Carfree will have some of the cheapest
security protection available: everyone outside in the streets. Are
*you* gonna carry a stolen stereo out a broken window and walk down
the street with it if you'll be seen?
- --- In carfree_cities@y..., "Matt Hohmeister" <mdh6214@g...> wrote:
> Anyone familiar with suburbia has encountered gated residential"buzz"
> areas--a tract-housing neighborhood or an apartment complex is
> surrounded by a fence, and has entrance gates. Residents have remote
> controls in their cars, and guests can use a touchpad phone at the
> gate to let their host know of their arrival--then the host can
> the gate.Interestingly enough I spent my formative years growing up in
one of the proto gated communities in Atlanta. Brianwood, located
off Lavista Rd. a few miles NE of the Emory/Druid Hills area, was
built in the 70s as a sort of house/condo hybrid development. The
individual condo units were basically houses that were connected to
their neighbor by a common wall. They weren't exactly townhouses
either(though a few could be considered as such), as their
architecture and design had more in common with the traditionl
residential dwellings of the time.
Go here to see a picture:
The development is fronted by brick and wooden fencing, but
there is no physical gate structure, unlike some other similar
developments from this time period. Serving as little more than a
symbolic barrier, it nevertheless sent the message that this was a
private community seperate from the surrounding 1950s/60s
neighborhood. I was four years old at the time when my dad decided
to buy one of the initial units in Phase I of the development in
1973. I imagine he did this because the lack of a yard appealed to
his anti-yard work sensibilities. In exchange for this he agreed to
pay a monthly condominium association fee. This fee, in addition to
paying for landscaping, was used to pay for trash collection, street
repairs, and the community clubhouse/swimming pool.
In many ways the development is a sort of traditional/suburban
subdivision hybrid. It shares such New Urbanist design philosophies
as garages in the rear of the house and a variety of housing types.
The square footage and amenities of the units range from small
townhouses to medium sized single family houses to large three story
single family luxury units. On the negative side it is still very
much a single use development with the closed traffic street pattern
of any modern subdivision.
I think its easy to bash this type of development, since at face
value it has all the appearance of being anti-community. However,
Steven Lagerfeld makes some very valid points in his review of
"Fortress America" as to why this is most likely not the case.
"It's at least arguable, for example, that residents of these places,
with their involvement in both local public government and their own
private homeowner associations, show a higher level of civic
participation than their neighbors. And for all their seeming
selfishness, they are willing to make significant sacrifices for
their common life. Living in a community under the auspices of a
private homeowner association entails two big additional costs.
Residents must pay stiff association dues, running into the thousands
of dollars annually, in addition to their local taxes. And they must
sacrifice a fair amount of freedom, since the associations are
exuberant regulators. They limit what colors residents can paint
their houses, tell them where they can park their cars, forbid them
to put up basketball hoops in their driveways, and so on. The list is
endless. Outsiders may recoil at this gluttony for social order, but
restrictions like these do represent costs that people are willing to
pay to achieve what they see as a desirable community life."
In the case of Brianwood, I experienced firsthand the dark side of
this enforced social order. Most of the people in the community were
not terribly interested in children and did little to accomodate
them. I would say 2/3 of the residents didn't have kids as they were
either retirees or adults who were living a childfree lifestyle.
They moved there precisely so they didn't have to deal with the
hassles and annoyances of children.
In one particular instance we were forced to take down a
basketball hoop precisely because it annoyed the old lady a couple
units over. This same old lady constantly complained about us doing
the normal things that kids do - i.e. playing and making noise.
Indeed it seemed to be a hobby of hers to keep a eye out for kids
getting into mischief(and letting their parents know of course). As
a result, growing up as a kid my play options in the community were
somewhat limited. This doesn't mean we were bored however, as we had
plenty of places to explore as the construction of the development
continued until the early 80s. Sand piles used for cement made great
places to play with Tonka trucks and Star Wars figures. When we got
a little older the construction sites themselves made a great place
to play war(much to the construction workers dismay).
Anyway, if you're ever in Atlanta and have time you should check the
development out, as its from a time when developers were a little
more progressive in their thinking.