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Understanding “CPTED”

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The concept of “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design” (CPTED) has emerged worldwide as one of the most promising and currently effective approaches to reducing the opportunity for crime. Dramatic results have been achieved in every imaginable environmental setting ranging from small stores to entire residential communities. Much is known about the relationships and causal links between street design, traffic control and behavior management. How space is designed and used directly affects profit, productivity and quality of life.

CPTED is based on the theory that the proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life. CPTED concepts can be applied to an individual building as well as to an entire neighborhood.

photo of Mesa Verde cliff dwellings.
View of “Cliff Palace” at Mesa Verde National Park.

Using design to foster security has its origins in the early history of the development of communities. Early Sumerian codes (4,000 BC.) identified the importance of respect for property rights, while the Codes of Hammurabi (2,000 BC.) introduced the responsibilities of builders to their clients. Eighth century Chinese practitioners of Feng Shui promoted the design of harmony in space from the size of the smallest rooms to the planning of cities.

Native American cliff dwellers at the same time were developing hierarchies of family and community identity and protection through the design of living space, building impregnable living areas on the face of cliffs accessible only by ladders. …

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