Gated communities are becoming more prevalent across America and the rest of the world.  To critique them, they allow for a private citizen to take advantage of the public realm without having to bear any of its messy reality.  In many senses, they provide for a buffer and blanket from true society.  This buffering, however, merely exacerbates misunderstandings and conflicts between different social classes.  Not only are disparities in income affecting who is wealthy and who is poor, but through such physical separation, social classes and ethnicities now have less understanding of each other.   Stereotypes of laziness, theft, and unkempt applied to an entire group based upon ethnicity or social class is not accurate.  When considering the gated community, one may ask, “what is the difference between a high rise residential tower and a gated community?”  Don’t both provide a separation and isolation based on affordability?  The difference however, resides in the fact that the urban dweller must travel along the street, through the public realm, to enter into the place of residence.   Unless of course the automobile is used, which it too, like the gated community, provides a buffer and isolation from any unplanned social contact.   These are the challenges us architects face in promoting the benefit of urbanism over gated community privitization.

There no longer is a “public” square to which all ranges of society come together.  The public street has now taken on this role, but it too, lacks the space necessary to hold true activity, unless of course the street becomes closed to conflicting uses, such as automobiles.   Public space has become privitized.  Shopping malls have become the new “public” space, but it too is subject to laws of wealth, mobility, and appearance.

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