New landscapes of gated communities: Australia's Sovereign Islands

Download New landscapes of gated communities: Australia's Sovereign Islands

Post on 16-Apr-2017

212 views

Category:

Documents

0 download

Embed Size (px)

TRANSCRIPT

  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Otago]On: 21 December 2014, At: 19:23Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Landscape ResearchPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/clar20

    New landscapes of gated communities:Australia's Sovereign IslandsMatthew W. Rofe aa School of Natural and Built Environments , The University ofSouth Adelaide , AustraliaPublished online: 23 Jan 2007.

    To cite this article: Matthew W. Rofe (2006) New landscapes of gated communities: Australia'sSovereign Islands, Landscape Research, 31:3, 309-317, DOI: 10.1080/01426390600783483

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01426390600783483

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

    Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.

    This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

    http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/clar20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/01426390600783483http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01426390600783483http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • SHORT COMMUNICATION

    New Landscapes of Gated Communities:Australias Sovereign Islands

    MATTHEW W. ROFESchool of Natural and Built Environments, The University of South Adelaide, Australia

    ABSTRACT The gated community phenomenon is well entrenched in numerous cities around theworld. Stimulated by concerns over eroding public safety and legitimated through a discourse ofcommunity civility, gated communities are the physical manifestation of complex social anxietiesand aspirations. Typically, gated communities rely upon aggressive mechanisms of exclusion,such as gates and walls that are policed by private security guards. However, this need not be thecase. Socio-spatial exclusion can be established and maintained through the more subtle, butnonetheless effective, creation of landscapes that are so imbued with a sense of prestige that theyarguably initiate a process of self-othering amongst those beyond their margins. Here, theSovereign Islands development in Queensland, Australia is examined to explore how thelandscapes of gated communities themselves can be physically and discursively constructed so asto obviate the need for aggressive barriers of exclusion.

    KEY WORDS: Gated community, exclusion, Sovereign Islands

    Introduction

    Gated communities are cited as heralding the emergence of a hostile, fortress-orientedurban future (Davis, 1992). Stimulated by discourses of eroding public safety, gatedcommunities arguably offer decent citizens residential security. The currentliterature on gated communities asserts that residential security is achieved throughthe fortification of space. In response to what is predominantly a North Americanliterature, this paper represents an initial examination of the Sovereign Islands gatedcommunity to provide an Australian perspective. Located north of QueenslandsGold Coast region, it is proposed that this development has been physically andvisually created so as to reduce reliance upon aggressive mechanisms of exclusionsuch as gates, walls or guards. Rather, through an extraverted display of wealth andprestige a process of self-othering is initiated in order to dissuade transgression byoutsiders. This suggests that the act of enclosure need not be premised upon the

    Correspondence Address: Matthew W. Rofe, School of Natural and Built Environments, Urban and

    Regional Planning, The University of South Adelaide, GPO Box 2471, South Australia, Australia 5001.

    Email: matthew.rofe@unisa.edu.au

    Landscape Research,Vol. 31, No. 3, 309 317, July 2006

    ISSN 0142-6397 Print/1469-9710 Online/06/030309-09 2006 Landscape Research Group LtdDOI: 10.1080/01426390600783483

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f O

    tago

    ] at

    19:

    23 2

    1 D

    ecem

    ber

    2014

  • aggressive fortification of space. Thus, the Sovereign Islands represents an interestingre-fashioning of the traditional gated community philosophy.

    The Sovereign Islands is a prestige residential development 30 minutes drive fromSurfers Paradise (see Figure 1). Developed by the Lewis Land Group of Companies,the development is situated on the Broadwater, an estuarine system of waterwaysthat link the rivers and canal systems with the Pacific Ocean. Reconstructed fromnatural sand deposits, the islands have been created to accommodate prestige,waterfront allotments. In total, six residential islands are planned, containing a totalof some 700 residential allotments. Currently, Islands One to Five are complete withdevelopment on Island Six ongoing.

    It is not implied that the development is completely divergent from the typicalgated community model. Indeed, the Sovereign Islands is fortified in the sense that itis surrounded by a moat and contains a private security presence. However, it isasserted that these factors play a secondary role in the securing of space. As such, theprocesses active in the construction and maintenance of difference reflect a departurefrom the traditional concepts within the literature. Accepting that landscapes are notpassive, but are inscribed with meaning (Duncan & Duncan, 1988), a reading of thephysical form and numerous marketing representations of this landscape willelucidate how this development functions as a landscape of power (Zukin, 1991).The term landscape is here employed not to uncritically denote . . . the appearanceof the land as we perceive it (Hartshorne, 1939, p. 150), but as an encapsulation ofthe complex entwining of the physicality of place with more ephemeral and contestedsocial meanings inscribed upon space. Consequently, landscapes are socialconstructions that emerge as groups struggle to . . . stamp their vision into thelandscape (Crump, 1999, p. 299, emphasis added). The ability to stamp meaningon space is a direct function of power. Accordingly, Mitchell (2002) argues thatuncovering how landscape works as an ideological medium is crucial to criticallandscape analysis. Here, Cosgroves assertion that landscape is as much a way ofseeing, or understanding, as it is a physical object is most instructive (Cosgrove,1998). What Mitchell (2002) and Cosgrove (1998) are suggesting is that how we see

    Figure 1. Study site location.

    310 M. W. Rofe

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f O

    tago

    ] at

    19:

    23 2

    1 D

    ecem

    ber

    2014

  • the landscape should not be approached unproblematically. Consideration must begiven to the landscape itself and representations thereof. Landscape and its variousforms of representation constitute a text. Texts by their very nature are partial andsubjective. Authorship rests at the heart of this subjectivity, as texts are not mirrorsthat reflect the physical reality of the world; they are active in its construction (Rose,2001). This is particularly the case in marketing exercises that project highly specificdiscourses of prestige, exclusivity and security onto space. Hook and Vrdoljak (2002,p. 199) reveal that gated communities embody a marketed form of security statussymbol. In short, a new ascetic of affluence and lifestyle, reified by a celebration ofhigh-tech security measures, has emerged the world over (see, for example, Bremner,2000; Connell, 1999; Davis, 1992; Leisch, 2002). A central theme of such advertising isthe association of spatial exclusion and residential exclusivity with prestige.

    In order to expose the Sovereign Islands discourses of prestige and exclusivity tofurther scrutiny, a critical reading of both the developments physical landscape andpromotional materials, including sales brochures, a promotional video and websitematerials, are combined. This approach draws upon deconstructive analyticaltechniques as detailed by Rose (2001) and Winchester et al. (2003). Specifically,Roses (2001) discussion of discourse analysis I and II was most instructivethe firstto identify the explicit rhetoric of prestige created about the Sovereign Islands andthe second to reveal the implicitly socio-spatial discourses about exclusion andlegitimacy mobilized through the developments physical and textual landscape.Such an approach . . . offers a way of working out the relationship between mind,society and environment in concrete studies of real places (Walton, 1995, p. 65).From this undertaking it is suggested that, rather than being premised upon explicitand aggressive exclusionary practices (see Davis, 1992; Hook & Vrdoljak, 2002)commonly associated with other gated communities, the Islands discourse ofdistinction is enmeshed within a subtly crafted extension of social distinctionsembedded within wider societal discourses.

    Fortressing the Landscape

    Notions of security are multi-faceted. The creation of defensible space not onlyimplies physical security; it is also shot through with inferences of social andfinancial security. Implicit within these notions is the rhetoric of drawing away fromthat which is considered dangerous and/or unpredictable. However, this turningaway may not be prompted by the fear of social interaction per se, but rather thefear of indiscriminate social interaction. Setha Low (2003) argues that the potentialfor indiscriminate social interaction induces a sense of personal vulnerability,thereby heightening anxiety. This sense of personal vulnerability, further stimulatedby media discourses of crime and violence, has material consequences. Theemergence of the car as a means of secure conveyance (Sibley, 1995) andpanoptic-style shopping malls (Davis, 1992; Judd, 1995) exemplify these materialconsequences. The creation of defensible boundaries then stems from the recognitionthat spatial boundaries are in fact permeable (Morgan, 1994).

    While not a new phenomenon (Landman & Schonteich, 2002; Leisch, 2002), gatedcommunities have recently proliferated throughout the world. This proliferationreflects Bremners assertion that [s]ecurity has become a way of life (2000, p. 48).

    New Landscapes of Gated Communities 311

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f O

    tago

    ] at

    19:

    23 2

    1 D

    ecem

    ber

    2014

  • However, disparities between actual crime rates and the fear of crime suggest thatresidential security is more complexly situated than a response to ensure personalsafety. Gated communities have thus been studied as an act of enclosure in responseto questions of community and belonging (Davis, 1992; Hillier & McManus, 1994;Low, 2003; Morgan, 1994). This literature contends that gated communities are elitelandscapes that construct a communal persona founded upon belonging andexclusivity. This is achieved through the alienating aspects of the development, suchas walls, screening vegetation and inward-facing houses that turn their backs on theother. Gated community logic then is essentially about securing a buffer zone aroundprivate spaces (Morgan, 1994, p. 394). In essence, the act of personal seclusionreinforces the exclusion of others through the establishment of physical barriers.

    Blakely and Snyder have located gated communities in the United States as . . . partof a deeper social transformation (1997, p. vii). They position the gated community asa dramatic form of residential boundary in which normally public spaces are privatized.Davis (1992) argues that the destruction of public space occurs through the privateprovision of security services that police residential areas. Essentially, territory andcommunity are defined by deterrents, which challenge the right to participate incommunity. Via segregation gated communities are able to . . . physically insulate . . .real estate values and lifestyles (Davis, 1992, p. 172). In a dubious moralistic sensedevelopers refer to this as positive ghettoism (Judd, 1995, p. 159). Here the public/private dualism is conflated within the confines of physical margins.

    In the case of the Sovereign Islands, the materiality of bounded space isaccentuated by the cognitive reinforcement of difference through overt representa-tions of wealth and status. The cognitive separation of the Sovereign Islandsdevelopment represents the edges of bounded space. Entry to this space is denied notprimarily by the maintenance of physical barriers, but arguably by the maintenanceof an identity of difference.

    Of Gates, Towers and Bridges

    Promoted as the finest residential islands in the world, the Sovereign Islands areexplicitly positioned as a . . . paradise reserved for a fortunate few (Lewis LandGroup: Island Three Promotional material). Physically, the islands do indeed containseveral segregation features common to all gated communities. These include a singleentry point, replete with sliding gate and security station. The gate box, combinedwith the developments observation tower, embodies Foucaults discussion of gazeas an exercise of socio-spatial power (Foucault, 1977) (Figure 2). Indeed, theobservation tower itself is reminiscent of Benthams panopticon model prison, whichexercised authority through the principle of visible yet unverifiable monitoring.

    However, a closer reading of these features reveals them not as an aggressiveapparatus of segregation but as highly ambiguous features of the development. Thetrue nature of the developments observation tower is a case in point. As part of themanagement complex situated at the developments entrance, the tower adoptsthe ambiguous architecture of a guard tower. Due to its location and form such amisreading is not unsurprising. However, the tower is a sales observation platform,serving to provide potential investors with panoramic views of the development.From without it undeniably appears as a guard tower. From within it enables

    312 M. W. Rofe

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f O

    tago

    ] at

    19:

    23 2

    1 D

    ecem

    ber

    2014

  • prospective investors and residents to both observe their domain and exercise acommanding gaze beyond the...

Recommended

View more >