Urban Defenseless Spaces in the City and Sense of Fear Empirical Phenomenology of Crossing Bridge Underpasses in Mashhad Metropolis

Document Type : مقاله پژوهشی


Ferdowsi University of Mashhad


1. Introduction
Defenseless spaces including areas with high vulnerability index in the cities due to the population growth and physical expansion on one hand and the exhaustion and destruction across the old areas on the other hand, nowadays are highly increased (Laidler, 2009). Urban defenseless spaces due to the high influence on urban life especially in order to the sense of fear of crime and insecurity in the city (Newman, 1996) have a high potential to research. The main property of the defenseless spaces is lack of social monitoring. In cities, where the traffic is low or if a crime occurs the opportunity to help someone who is violated is low, gives more audacity to criminals to commit a crime (Trancik, 1986). In addition, in this type of areas instability of population can be seen and is considered as one of the most important features of defenseless spaces. Thus undefended areas are one of the most suitable points for intruders and criminals. In other words because of physical structure defenseless spaces can have an important role in creating a sense of fear and insecurity (Mortazavi, 2002). This paper aims to clarify the concept of urban defenseless spaces and semantic analysis of experiences in the defenseless areas of Mashhad and revealing sense of fear and insecurity in these experiments around three axes: defenseless spaces, defensible spaces and the sense of fear and insecurity caused by undefended spaces are investigated. Systematic review of the records showed that defenseless spaces are defined with 4 physical and social characteristic including lack of visibility, lack of being surrounded and regulatory opportunities, beaten and old space, solitude and darkness.
2. Study Area
Mashhad municipality is divided in to 13 regions and Zone 11 has selected as the study area of this research, this choice is according to the statistics of the transportation and traffic organization of Mashhad municipality that this region has the most underpass, and the reason can be clarified by the two purposed of the underpasses in this zone, one is for daily commute and the other one is because of starting Mashhad subway. The zone 11 of Mashhad Municipality in order to provide faster and easier access to civil services separated from zone 10 in 1995. This region is currently an area of 1.800 hectares which includes 6.16 percent of the entire city and is divided in to two areas and has approximately 222 thousand inhabitants which are about 7.9 percent of the total population of the city.
3. Material and Methods
The research method is systematic review through records of the defenseless and showing the relationship between these spaces with a sense of fear and insecurity. Phenomenological approach is one of the most important methods of qualitative research. The main focus of phenomenological analysis is the study of conscious experience and its purpose is to describe the experience of social life as they are in real life. Phenomenology consider the person as part of environment and it helps creating a comprehensive description of the phenomenon experienced in order to understand its inherent structure. The experience of Pedestrians crossing some defenseless spaces and defensible spaces in Mashhad has been analyzed with the empirical phenomenology method. For this purpose 3 underpasses in zone 11(one of them is before Esteghlal Square, one is in Vakilabad avenue , and the other one is in Kalantary Highway) in Mashhad which have had the maximum swing of defenseless properties and the opposite of defensible space, are selected purposefully and the experience of 12 participants under these underpasses has been analyzed. These experiences through in-depth interviews with passers has been readout, based on three methods of encoding text, (Open, axial and selective), the resulting texts are analyzed. The first step in the process of text analysis is extraction of semantic units and then identifying their common meanings. The second step is identifying the Common points and Points of difference among the Passers which have had the experience of crossing the underpass. In addition, sufficient condition for the number of samples (limiting to 12 participant) was performed based on the principle of the data saturation.
4. Results and Discussion
The phenomenological analysis of the experience of crossing the 12 participants of three underpasses which have had the maximum swing of the defenseless properties showed that firstly in these experiments 12 units of meaning including fear of violence, fear of harassment, feel a vacuum, feel unsafe exist. They can be found in the following categories overall sense as a sense of fear and insecurity categories. Secondly, in these experiences features of harassment occurrence, horror and dark are the subscription aspects in those underpasses which had the characteristics of defenseless spaces. And good light - the guard- crowd and high congestion are the subscription aspects in those underpasses which had the characteristics of defensible space and the use of underpasses and intense of fearness are the different aspects of the underpasses. Thirdly, lack of supervision, visibility, quiet and darkness, exhaustion and oldness are the most important elements of defenseless spaces (underpasses).Generally the results of this phenomenological experience of crossing the underpasses expresses the sense of fear among those who perforce or accidentally have used the underpass and their views and observations confirmed the defenseless of the space. Finally, according to the results of field observations in order to reduce sense of fear and to prevent the emergence of environmental opportunities for the criminals to commit a crime. It is recommended that in the design of underpasses color and light pollution should be avoided. Underpass should not be inscribed. In addition, the selected color in the space can help to feel comfortable or tension. Beginning and end of the underpass should be clear. It means that it should be balanced and be in a form of a straight line. U-shaped and L-shaped design of the underpasses should be avoided. Apart from all these aspects the most important principle in providing safety and comfort for Pedestrians passing an underpass is enough light. That's why one of the fundamental principles of Oscar Newman's theories is that, the crimes in day and night, have significant differences. So it is better that adequate consideration about lighting be given to the underpasses and burned out or broken bulbs be replaced on time.
5. Conclusion
Phenomenological experience of crossing the bridge underpass in Mashhad among 12 passersby (Participants in the interviews) showed that Point against defenseless spaces, are defensible spaces that Newman introduced the defenseless spaces theory in 1996(Newman, 1996: 41). The features of defenseless spaces can not be generalized to all the bridges, but the results and the evidence suggests that the characteristics of the defenseless spaces should be visible in the environment. In the case of defenseless areas underpass and overpass bridges were also named, but the main problem is that every bridge underpass or overpass will not be considered as defenseless space. In terms of features, the continuous absence of people and activity disorder are effective characteristics in order to create a non-defense area and then a sense of fear and insecurity and because social factors in comparison to physical-social factors are more effective, Social factors also have a proportionally greater impact on creating defenseless areas.


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