Set a boundary or build a wall?
Revisiting the ‘idea’ of a boundary wall and reconsidering it for conscious urbanism.
Keywords:boundary walls, sense of security, territoriality, privacy, boundaries, barriers, crime prevention
The boundary wall is often the most insignificant and overlooked element in any architectural design project. It is considered worthwhile of any design inputs only when it is the front boundary wall abutting the main access road. However, it's treatment has far reaching effects than what meets the eye. This article explores the need of a boundary wall, its usual treatments, starting from its existence in a small residential plot to large tracts of gated communities, around shopping malls and commercial centers to institutional and recreational areas, and the impact this seemingly inconsequential element has on people, their perceptions, the incidence of crime, notions of safety, and the urban fabric in general. It indulges in a serious interrogation of the effectiveness of boundary walls w.r.t ownership, privacy and security. The article suggests that the way we understand the boundary wall needs revisiting because this understated element of architecture plays a more powerful role on the city building exercise and the creation of livable cities. It concludes with explorations of alternate methods of setting boundaries through case examples and best practices.
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