"The CSIR has conducted extensive research into this phenomenon and has focussed in particular on the tension between the need of residents to respond to short term security needs and the longer term impact of gated communities on the broader city and the community at large," explains Karina Landman, .project leader at CSIR Building and Construction Technology (Boutek).
"Given that this is an emotional issue and the arguments for and against enclosed neighbourhoods are often based on perceptions and hearsay, we have endeavoured to provide unbiased information based on independent research. The approach we have taken recognises that there are many sensitive and contentious issues to consider and these need to be addressed in a comprehensive and integrated manner," she says.
The proliferation of gated communities is a global phenomenon. They are found in various forms in many countries including the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia. While there are many similarities, there are also a number of differences between gated communities in developed countries (for example the USA and Canada) and those in developing countries such as South Africa and Brazil.
"We have also looked at the situation in other countries where enclosed neighbourhoods have been in existence for longer than it has been locally. Experiences studied in Brazil provide useful insights into the longer term impact of enclosed neighbourhoods and particularly highlight the effects on poorer communities," Landman concludes.
There is a very active international debate on enclosed neighbourhoods amongst researchers, academics and other specialists. The CSIR, through Karina Landman, is very active in this debate and she is regarded as a leading authority in the field. Karina is finalising her PhD studies on this topic and is hosting a very active website aimed at stimulating discussion and sharing information on various issues related to enclosed neighbourhoods (www.gatedcomsa.co.za).