Gated Community: Safety or Not?


When we talking about the future trend of community design, one of the patterns is enjoying its popularity, which is gated community. Gated neighborhoods seems could give residents the sense of security, their style are easy to be copied, which can save a lot of costs. However, there are still some shortcomings of this kind of developing style.

Actually gated community does not only happened in developing countries, but also popular in many other countries all over the word, and now as a trend that may meeting the acquirements of market. Besides, there are a lot of features, or we can call it themes that may add on the gated community. Some of them can be equipped with tradition elements, such as Vanke Fifth Garden in Shanghai and Shenzhen, China, property developer gave these gated communities a theme from Chinese traditional architectural and landscape pattern to make them more attractive, but those housing price are also rising from it.


Gates provide security and separation for the leisure activities and amenities within the life style communities. In Sunbelt areas in America, such as southern California and Florida, this pattern of community remains most common but also can be found through the country. Residents’ primary motivation of choice is recreational facilities provided, such as golf, and security is the a secondary reason. But the main reason for people to choose to live in gated community is the sense of security, but the fact is that the evidence of crime rate varied by area but not between gated and ungated neighborhoods in the same area. The “sense of security” seems does not have any impact on crime. Besides, even some of those security guards are not taking this work seriously. Some of the residents even believed those sense of security too much and leave their doors and windows opened when they are not present.

The Survey of the Perception of Gates as a Factor in Reducing Crime360截图20150107223131924

Another effect I would like to talk about is gated community is one of the factor that speed up social fragmentation. The case from Jehova’s Witnesses tells us some of the neighborhoods guards ignored the require of visitors’ access. The actions like these stopped the communication with the world outside, and makes the society became separated apart.


Blakely, E.J, and M.G. Snyder. “Separate Places: Crime and Security in gated sommunities.” In: M. Felson and R.B. Peister, Reducing crime through real estate development and management, pp. 53-70.

Jehovah’s Witnesses Win Access to Gated Communities, Lifeboat Morality, by Jim Newman, Available at

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6 thoughts on “Gated Community: Safety or Not?

  1. Hi, Ann!
    I think it is common to think about living in the security community nowadays.
    In China, most of residential models are gated community. As you mentioned, the space design in Vanke 5th Garden is wonderful, and there is full of changes. The public space in Vanke 5th Garden, it is easy to find delicate designs in the public space which is prepared for the neighbours to enjoy their communication and the beauty of Chinese traditional landscape in the modern form. Why residents enjoy their community? I believe that except good design, the gated community is the primary reason. If this is not gated community, people who live in there will lack sense of security and will not leave their doors and windows opened when they are not present.
    However, gated community has disadvantages. It may not as safe as expect. Access is available to anyone who disables a gate or poses as a visitor, and communities with lax security may be no safer than surrounding neighbourhoods. Moreover, it is not convenient for people who can not get to area directly through the community.

  2. Hi Ann, i think two articles which professor Ali gave us are very useful and interesting about the concept of gated community. If you remember, in the case study of South Africa gated community, the idea for gated community is a combination of Urban Village, New Urbanism and Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). Especially, it also mentions about the idea of Oscar Newman about defensible space, which mean built-in a surveillance system, in which people is the main factor. So on theory, people observe each other in their community that can prevent the risk of intruders or crime and make the ‘sense of security’. There is no perfect security system can completely stop crime attack our community, so the purpose of this urban design approach is reducing the risk of crime. Moreover, I think the case study of South Africa want to say it is good solution for the condition of South Africa, post-apartheid era when people are scare to go outside because of criminal, they grow strong community one by one through gated community design.

  3. Let me tell you the story about Russian gated community Rublevka.

    Rublevka is the well-known wealthy gated community to the south of Moscow.
    Long time ago this road used to be famous as the “tsar`s road” as Ivan the Terrible would go hunting along this road.
    Rublevka is an informal name. You will never find it on a map- but it’s widely used in the cinema and in day to day communication. Its land is the most expensive in the Moscow region and, indeed in the whole of Russia. One of its houses was included in the top 5 of the 2008 Forbes list of the world’s most expensive homes.

    This gated community consists of the luxury gated houses of the Russian elite. As the result, Rublevka has become the home of Russian celebrities, artists and businessmen. For instance, the famous Russian businessman Vladislav Doronin lives here with his girlfriend, the international top model Naomi Campbell.
    The attraction of the area is explained by its wonderful clean air and the absence of large industries and factories. This area has a rich choice of: malls, all kinds of services, banks, and schools.

    This district is also interesting for its architecture and urban design. Rublevka`s houses come in many different styles. Some time ago the dominant styles were Modern, Baroque style and unique conceptual buildings of individual architects. More recently the fashions have changed: European Classic, minimalism and “Russian Switzerland” styles have become popular, as well as ecotype buildings which are very much popular nowadays.

  4. Hi,Ann, I can’t say Gated Community is safer or not. But here I’d like to give two reasons why the door has to be closed in Chinese residential quarters. I was going to break the fence once in the real project and held the concept building a integrated community. The developer stopped me and told me their apprehension.
    First, developer’s legal responsibility. Any crime, such as theft, destruction of property, children’s missing, would be blamed on their poor management. Thus, they would suffer a penalty by law. Gating the community and running surveillance system are the only ways they can do to guarantee the security of their jurisdiction. Compared to the open community in UK, we can see there are mostly the terrace houses open directly to the streets, nor residential districts under the control of developer. Residents here only take charge of their own property so that they just need to close their own door. And nobody has to be sued for the crime in the street.
    Second, Rich residential quarters somehow represent the identification of people living inside. you know the significance of “mianzi”(face) and “diwei”(position) in Chinese culture. When rich people buy the house there, they prefer to keep away from the poor and enjoy the great landscaped garden inside the community themselves. It’s similar to the noble family owning their own mansion in feudal times.

  5. Hi Ann,

    It is interesting to hear other peoples views on gated communities.

    One question I have for you is, do you think gated communities in developed countries are more an as an icon as opposed to security?

    The reason I ask this is, some places in England have gated communities, but the crime round those areas is very low compared to places like South Africa. The gated communities in England, in my opinion, are for middle class and higher income families to show their wealth. Almost like ‘we can afford to live in a community with gates, you can not’. This in my opinion is a more as an icon as a symbol of wealth, not so much to reduce crime. Do you think people in developing countries see it like this? Obviously with the added worry of crime.
    Because in the U.S.A. in the very affluent residential areas they have gated communities, this is usually where some of the celebrities live as well. They can see it as an icon to live there, but in America there is a very high gun crime, so in addition they may also see it as safety. But in some places like California I feel it is more a privacy as well as icon. To stop the nosey tourists looking around their houses and encroaching on their private lives. Do you think this is another reason for them?

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