Fear of crime beyond the walls: Effects of gated communities in neighbouring public spaces. The case of Greater Metropolitan Area of Costa Rica
Primary supervisor: Professor Claudio de Magalhães
Secondary supervisor: Dr Pablo Sendra
Sponsor: Universidad de Costa Rica
Starting date: January 2017
Completion date: May 2021
This research explores the distribution of fear of crime in neighbourhoods next to gated communities, and their variants, by considering poverty levels and elements of the built environment. Fear of crime is a constant concern in Latin America and gated communities have been spreading rapidly as they are seen as 'shelters' against crime. They are typically walled or fenced, with private security and surveillance devices; their externalities are commonly associated with spatial segregation, socio-economic effects and alterations of the urban fabric. However, there is still a lack of empirical data about the effect of gated communities on the fear of crime at their peripheries. This thesis addresses that research gap by investigating the urban area of Costa Rica.
The research design is a qualitative approach based on eight case studies; these are neighbourhoods bordering gated communities in different areas within the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM). They represent a diverse range of poverty, taking into account housing, educational levels, health and access to goods and services. In each neighbourhood, a walking interview was carried out with community members; it was tracked by GPS and audio recorded. Additionally, there were focus groups, observations and in-depth interviews. A set of ‘perceptions maps’ were produced by georeferencing people's comments through qualitative software and GIS. The core of the empirical data was analysed mostly through thematic analysis by a comparative structure of the eight case studies.
The findings suggest that the physical presence of gated communities produces an emotional response in people living outside their gates, which is fuelled by features of the built environment and residential segregation. Literature indicates that people from gated communities aim to safeguard themselves from their surroundings. However, it was found that, within certain ranges of poverty, non-gated neighbours feel anxious about gated residents. This suggests that fear of crime might also operate in the opposite direction, from neighbouring areas to gated communities.
Karla Barrantes Chaves has a degree in Architecture from the Universidad de Costa Rica, a master degree in Urban and land development from the Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña. She carried out her PhD at the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London (UCL). Her research interests lie in the impact of the built environment on perceived safety, urbanisation patterns, gated communities and planning regulations.
At the Bartlett, she has been a member of the Socially Just Planning Doctoral Network, PGTA for the modules: Design & Real Estate, Urban design: place making, Health, Comfort and Wellbeing in the Built Environment and Designing Inclusive Places. She also worked as a research assistant at the UCL Institute for Environmental Design & Engineering.
Karla worked as a Lecturer in spatial planning for the University of Costa Rica (UCR) for more than seven years for the School of Topographic Engineering. At UCR she also worked for 14 years as a researcher at the Research Program in Sustainable Urban Development (ProDUS-UCR), there, she coordinated and participated in regulatory plans and research regarding urban planning, public spaces, land management tools, participatory processes, coastal and rural management. Those projects were mainly sponsored by local governments and national institutions.
She founded and directed for 11 years the urban renewal project ‘TCU Calle de la Amargura [Street of bitterness]’, focused on safety strategies through artistic and cultural manifestations. Those activities took place in a controversial street nearby to UCR. The University of Costa Rica sponsors her PhD at UCL as an agreement to go back for teaching and researching.
- Teaching experience
At University College London (UCL):
PGTA at the Bartlett School of Planning.
- 2019/2020: BPLN0031 Design & Real Estate
- 2020/2021: BPLN0042 Urban design: place making
PGTA at the Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources
- UCL Institute for Environmental Design & Engineering
- 2020/2021: BENV0027Health, Comfort and Wellbeing in the Built Environment
- 2020/2021: BENV0057: Designing Inclusive Places
The University of Costa Rica (UCR) (https://www.ucr.ac.cr):
- 2010-2016. BEng in Engineering (Topographic)
- IT 6004. Urbanismo [Urbanism/Spatial Planning]
- 2015. BSc in Psychology (interdisciplinary course/shared course)
- PS 1047. Psicología Ambiental: Movilidad activa y áreas verdes
- [Environmental Psychology: Active Mobility and Green Areas]
- Schools: Biology, Psychology, Engineering and Architecture.
- 2011-2013. MSc in Environmental Management and Ecotourism (Interdisciplinary master)
- PF 6810. Planificación Territorial 1. [Land Planning 1]
- 2004. BSc in Eco-Tourism (shared course)
- Naturaleza y proyectos turísticos [Nature and Tourist Projects]
- UCR - Liberia Branch
Barrantes, K,. (2019). ‘Barrios conviviendo con comunidades cerradas entre el miedo y la segregación. El caso de la GAM-Costa Rica’ [Neighborhoods “cohabiting” with gated communities: between fear and segregation. GMA- Costa Rica’s case]. Revistarquis, University of Costa Rica, VOL 8, Num. 2, San José, Costa Rica, pp. 66-76. https://doi.org/10.15517/ra.v8i2
Barrantes, K,. (2015). Ingenierías en los procesos de renovación urbana y gestión communal [Engineering in urban renovation and community management processes]. Iberoamerican Journal of Project Management (IJoPM). Vol.6, No1., Section Code, pp.37-60. 2015. http://www.ijopm.org/index.php/IJOPM/article/view/221
Barrantes, K,. (2014). Calle de la Amargura: hacia una renovación urbana con actividad humana. [Amargura Street towards an urban renovation with human activity], On the Waterfront Magazine, University of Barcelona, Spain. (21-39), 2014 http://www.ub.edu/escult/Wateremail@example.com
Barrantes, K,. (2012) Plan regulador de Pococí, Limón, Costa Rica. Retos y compromisos [Regulatory plan for Pococi, Limón, Costa Rica. Challenges and commitments]. InterSedes Journal. Vol. XIII. (24-2011) 61-77. DOI 10.15517/isucr.v12i24.965
Barrantes, K; Zumbado F. (2012). Aporte de los procesos participativos en el ordenamientoterritorial: caso del Plan Regulador Costero de Isla Chira y Zonificación propuesta [Contributions during participative proceedings in land laws: case of the Coastal Regulatory Plan for Chira Island and Zoning proposal]. Reflexiones Magazine. 285-296,. DOI 10.15517/rr.v0i0.1540
Zuñiga M; Barrantes K, Brenes M, Zamora L, Nuñez O, Sanchez L & Castillo M. (2017). Observación directa de ambientes de aprendizaje en centros educativos costarricenses con distinto desempeño. [Classroom observation of learning environment in Costa Rican High Schools with different performance level] State of Education 2017. State of the Nation Program CONARE. San José, Costa Rica.
Barrantes K, Mora K & Robles D. (2015) Importancia de los espacios de convivencia y recreación en el contexto de la educación secundaria. [Relevance of cohabitation and recreational spaces within the context of high school]. State of Education 2015. State of the Nation Program CONARE. San José, Costa Rica.
Barrantes K, (2015). Lecciones aprendidas de casos latinoamericanos en la gestión del territorio y el contexto costarricense. [Lessons learned in land management, Latin American examples and their application within the Costa Rican context], State of the Nation Program. CONARE 2015. San José, Costa Rica. Pujol R,
Barrantes, K, Dobles, D, Peréz, E & Sánchez, L. (2013) Formas de atención de la demanda de infraestructura educativa y calidad de los ambientes de aprendizaje que se construyen. [Ways to deal with educational infrastructure demand and quality in learning environments being created]. State of Education, CONARE.
Books (participation and chapters)
Pujol R, Barrantes K & López C. (2013). ‘Spatial Planning as a Tool for Heritage Protection: Costa Rica Master Plans’ in Tangible Risks and Intangible Opportunities: Long-term risk preparedness and responses for threats to cultural heritage. ICOMOS 2015.
Barrantes, K. (2013). TCU Calle de la Amargura [TCU Amargura Street] in Activaciones urbanas para la apropiación del espacio público, UN-Habitat. San Jose, Costa Rica, (54-57) 2013.
Pujol R, Barrantes, K. (2013). Áreas recreativas de la GAM [GMA Recreational Areas] in Activaciones urbanas para la apropiación del espacio público, UN-Habitat. San Jose, Costa Rica.
Barrantes, K. (2011) Descripción básica y esquema de las etapas de un proceso de gestión del ordenamiento territorial. [Basic description and stage outline a for land law management process]. In Guía de Ordenamiento Territorial en espacios Rurales. DEMUCA-ProDUS.
Barrantes, K. (2011). Principios generales de la Zonificación Rural [General Principles of Rural Zoning]. In Guía de Ordenamiento Territorial en espacios Rurales. DEMUCA-ProDUS.
Barrantes, K. (2011). Políticas de fraccionamiento en espacios Rurales [Division Policies in Rural Spaces] In Guía de Ordenamiento Territorial en espacios rurales (40-42). Land Law Guidelines in Rural Spaces, DEMUCA-ProDUS.
Barrantes, K. (2011) Formalización del proceso de ordenamiento territorial mediante ordenanzas y reglamentos municipales. [Formalization of land law procedures through municipal by laws and regulations]. In Guía de Ordenamiento Territorial en espacios rurales DEMUCA-ProDUS.
Barrantes, K. (2011) Reglas básicas de zonificación, reglamentos y ordenanzas municipalesde ordenamiento territorial [Basic zoning rules, municipal by laws and regulations for Land Laws]. In Guía de Ordenamiento Territorial en espacios rurales. DEMUCA-ProDUS.
Barrantes, K. (2005). Elaboración de regulaciones y mapas. [Elaboration of regulations and maps] in Reflexiones para el Debate Nº 8, Manual para la Gestión Municipal de la Zona Marítimo-Terrestre en Costa Rica, San José, Fundación DEMUCA, 2005.
Barrantes, K. (2005). Capacidades institucionales municipales para la gestión territorial (localy regional) de la zona marítimo terrestre. [Municipal institutional capacities for land management (local and regional) for the land-sea zoning] in Reflexiones para el Debate Nº 8, Manual para la Gestión Municipal de la Zona Marítimo-Terrestre en Costa Rica, San José, Fundación DEMUCA, 2005.
- Conferences and talks
Barrantes, K. ‘More than walls: Exploring fear of crime beyond Gated Communities’. Presented at Working with Co-design, violence and fear of crime. Some views from Latin America. Socially Just Planning Network, Bartlett School of Planning, May 2019, London, United Kingdom.
Barrantes, K. ‘Miedo al crimen más allá de los muros: Efectos de las comunidades cerradas en el espacio público. Caso de la GAM’ [Fear of crime beyond the walls: Effects of gated communities towards public space. The GAM case], December 2018, School of Architecture, University of Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica.
Barrantes, K. ‘Efecto las comunidades cerradas en los espacios públicos vecinos’ [Effects of gated communities in neighbouring public spaces’. Presented at Ministry of Housing and Human Settlements, Costa Rican Government, November 2018, San José, Costa Rica
Barrantes, K. ‘Aproximación a la investigacion en temas urbanos’ [Approach for researching in urban topics]. Presented at Seminar for the Master in Environmental Management and Ecotourism, University of Costa Rica, November 2018, San José, Costa Rica.
Barrantes, K. Fear and segregation: anxiety beyond the gated communities. The Costa Rican case. Presented at ‘AESOP annual conference: Planning for Transition’, July 2019, Venice, Italy.
Barrantes, K. ‘Beyond the walls: neighbourhoods facing gated communities, between fear and exclusion. The Costa Rican case’. Presented at ‘Cities in Conflict: Urban Space and Violence’, June 2019, Cork, Ireland.
Barrantes, K. ‘Miedo al crimen más allá de las murallas: ¿Son las comunidades cerradas un catalizador del miedo hacia los barrios más desiguales? El caso de Costa Rica. [Fear of crime beyond the walls. Are gated communities a fear catalyst towards the more unequal neighbourhoods?] Presented at OUT 2018 XVI International Conference in land planning and urbanism, October 2018, Habana, Cuba.
Barrantes, K. ‘Ingenierías en los procesos de renovación urbana y gestión comunal’ [Engineering in urban renovation processes and community management]. Presented at The Latin American Engineering Project Congress and the IV International Congress on Knowledge and Innovation, November 2013, Loja, Ecuador.
Barrantes, K. ‘Land Laws as a tool to preserve the Heritage’. Presented at International Scientific Symposium ICOMOS: Tangible risks, intangible opportunities. October, 2013. San Jose, Costa Rica.
Barrantes, K. ‘Calle de la Amargura hacia una renovación urbana con actividad humana’ [Amargura Street towards an urban renovation with human activity]. Presented at Latin American Congress Cross Curricula in Urban Design. 2013. San José, Costa Rica. Pujol R,
Barrantes, K, Ávila, D. ‘Quepos: Proposal to reusing the State’s natural patrimony and the Historic Patrimony of the American Zone and Zone Zero. Presented at Costa Rican Pacific Area Research meetings, University of Costa Rica, 2012. Puntarenas, Costa Rica.
Barrantes, K, Solano, J. ‘Planning Experience at the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve’. Presented at Costa Rican Pacific Area Research meetings, University of Costa Rica, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Zumbado, F,
Barrantes K. ‘Land Laws for islands in the Nicoya Gulf: Regulatory Coastal Plan for Chira Island and final zoning proposal.’ Presented at Costa Rican Pacific Area Research meeting, University of Costa Rica, 2012, Puntarenas, Costa Rica.
Habitat III. United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. Member of the Costa Rican official delegation. Quito, Ecuador. 2016 UNESCO chair meeting: ‘Intermediate Cities Urbanization and Development’ Lleida, Spain. Representative of University of Costa Rica. 2008.
- Acknowledgements and grants
Doctoral School UCL. Research Images as Art / Art Images as Research Competition – 2019: honourable mention.
Bartlett Doctoral Initiative Fund. Socially Just Planning Doctoral Network. 2018/2019
University of Costa Rica’s fellowship to lecturers and associate professors for PhD Studies abroad. 2016.
State of Education - CONARE. Grand Fund for Research in Education. Classroom observation of learning environment in Costa Rican High Schools with different performance level. (Infrastructure Assessment). San José, Costa Rica.
Recipient of the grant bid from the Social Vice-rectory from the University of Costa Rica, with the following projects:
2010. Stimulating high school student’s abilities and promoting the use of public spaces. Part I 2011. Stimulating high school student’s abilities and promoting the use of public spaces. Part II 2012. Stimulating high school student’s abilities and promoting the use of public spaces. Part III 2013. Reading and Laughing: Encouraging reading in children and teenagers with fun and artistic experiences.