In Defense of a "Third Place": How Reassembling the Boundaries of an Urban Military Installation can Maintain Security while Uniting the Community

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Virginia Tech


"Regardless of the differences among their citizens, cities always define their community as against the outside world; a settlement with internal defense walls cannot be called a true community." Community Design and Culture of Cities, by Eduardo Lozano pg 5

Throughout the history of human civilization, no manmade structure has been used to defend territory more than the Wall. Walls have been used to delineate the edges of empires, separate communities, limit migration and provide protection from enemies. As a result, the Wall has become synonymous with imperialism, segregation, racism and isolationism. But what about instances when security outweighs all other concerns? Is there a way to use the wall to maintain defensible space without negatively impacting the greater community?

In the case of a military installation located in an urban environment, this is a real issue. Walls which protect the sensitive content within, also serve to divide the community. These necessary physical barriers have the incidental consequence of segregating the servicemembers and government civilians within from the community which they serve.

I contend that the thoughtful treatment of these barriers can create a "third place" ripe for interaction between the installation and the surrounding community. By designing retail, educational and cultural spaces along the border, the security of the installation can remain intact while also fostering an active relationship with its surroundings. After all, as Eduardo Lozano states, "a settlement with internal defense walls cannot be called a true community."



Urban Design, Military, Wall, Barrier, Boundary