S-Space Graduate School of Environmental Studies (환경대학원) Dept. of Environmental Planning (환경계획학과) Theses (Ph.D. / Sc.D._환경계획학과)
Formation and Resident Perception of Gated Communities: the Case of Apartment Complexes in Seoul
빗장주거단지의 형성과 거주자 인식에 관한 연구: 서울의 아파트 단지를 사례로
- 환경대학원 환경계획학과
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- formation of gated communities; perception of gated communities; typology of gated communities; apartment complex; Seoul
- 학위논문 (박사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 환경대학원 환경계획학과, 2018. 2. 이영성.
- Gated communities are clearly bounded residential estates that limit the access of non-residents to privately controlled common spaces. Services such as street maintenance and policing that are usually provided by the public authority are privatised there. In return for funding the private infrastructure and its upkeep, residents acquire the rights to govern their residential territory and exclude those who are not members. As a real estate product or defensive mechanism against crime and nuisances, gated communities proliferate in many countries. South Korea is no exception of the global gating phenomenon.
In the country, privately owned high-rise apartment complexes possess all the characteristics of gated communities. Apartment complexes progressed in a great deal both in quantity and quality during the last decades and gated living is a part of middle class life styles today. The study aims to diagnose the current status of gating in urban space, track its evolutionary process and identify the socioeconomic forces behind the evolution. Three approaches were adopted for this purpose: typology of gated communities, gating actor analysis and analysis of residents perception.
Typology of border permeability through the audit of physical barriers against outsiders in thousand apartment complexes in Seoul has produced four types by the degree of physical exclusiveness: Demarcated, Enclosed, Car-restricted and All-restricted complexes. The most highly gated type, All-restricted complexes that control both cars and pedestrians, is concentrated in the most affluent area of Seoul. Analysis of the average home prices and home sizes between types demonstrates that people with more financial means tend to live in more exclusive communities. Combination of the data with that of non-gated collective housing types extends the spectrum of housing and wealth to cover the majority of Seoul population. In the spectrum, residents of non-gated collective housing constitute the least economically privileged group. These results go further than the conventional notion of gated communities as golden ghettos. The incessant evolution of apartment complexes by private funding and the stagnation of traditional neighbourhood with insufficient public infrastructure create a hierarchical residential space in Seoul, organised by exclusiveness bought by money.
The four types are not fixed and have been constantly evolving. Before the 1990s, Enclosed complexes with walls but without any barrier at complex entrances were the only type of gated communities. Increase of cars and consequent lack of parking space made gated community residents install rising arm barriers at entrances, thus converting Enclosed complexes into Car-restricted complexes through retrofitting. The residents retrofitting has since been integrated in the design of consequent apartment complexes. Thus, Car-restricted complexes are the most prevalent type today. Conversion of Car-restricted complex from All-restricted complex is not as smooth as the precedent conversion. Municipality planners refuse to approve of design integrating electric gates against pedestrians. Nonetheless, some zealous residents of gated communities still proceed to the conversion after obtaining the approval. Demarcated complexes with low walls built in new towns with heavy public intervention come from the will of the public to reduce exclusiveness.
Although gated community residents already feel safe in their apartment complexes and neighbourhoods, they seek an extra measure of protection from crime. People who want electric gates have heightened sense of safety compared to others and their fear of crime is inflated from the incessant media reports of crime rather than actual threat. Gates mostly offer symbolic comfort to the residents when the device can be easily circumvented by criminals with a gimmick as simple as tailgating. However, gates are practical and effective in strengthening the social environment of gated communities by removing opportunistic behaviours by non-residents such as loitering and littering. In this manner, gates can be understood as localised efforts to improve living conditions. However, these efforts are anti-civic and anti-urban due to their inward-looking nature and their problem-solving resorting to avoidance and exclusion rather than exchanges and collaboration.
The production of gated communities has involved three major actors: developers, housing consumers and the state. Each actor has greatly benefitted from the process of developing apartment complexes internalising modern infrastructure by private funding, thus their proliferation in cities. The state has been paramount in the virtuous circle of the production of gated communities which presented the prototype and systemised the production process, while financially benefitting from the process through upgrade of infrastructure without public investment. Today, however, the so-called gating machine in the Korean housing market reached a critical juncture where public and private interests collide. Residents of gated communities want to strengthen physical exclusiveness to escape from the perceived nuisances for themselves but the state strives for a walkable and more equitable city without gates for the many. Bold restructuring of the current housing system with more focus on equality and inclusion on the part of the state will be the first step to cure the urban and social fragmentation caused by walls and gates.