Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - REDUCING BOUNDARIES (Reducing Boundaries)

Different societies produce different strategies and interventions for securing private and public spaces, which range from spatial segregation (e.g. gated communities) to the control of accesses, use of road bollards, installation of closed-circuit television system, and other techniques of crime prevention through environmental design. Given the worldwide growing economic gap between the lower and the upper classes, human sciences have kept focusing their attention on class differences and its consequences. However, they have mainly concentrated their analysis on how the poor and the low-middle classes inhabit the space or might be evicted from it.
Reducing Boundaries aims instead at highlighting how a sense of 'safety' and 'security' is perceived and reproduced by middle- and upper- classes and how it modifies the urban territory. On the one hand, we intend to detect eventual prejudices in the perception of risk and safety and on the other hand we aim to make specific urban trends 'recognizable' and 'manageable' by local institutions. The research group is concentrating on specific gentrified areas of Brussels, Porto Alegre, Veneto region and it is analyzing the adopted environmental strategies which, in turn, supposedly increased the perception of safety or eventually diminished social anxiety in relation to crime.
The final objective is to understand if a sense of safety and security can be produced with other means than building physical obstacles and barriers that result in a highly divided city.
Through a multidisciplinary approach we aim at focusing on the different strategies - from material to immaterial - of appropriation and defense of space that the higher classes have developed in order to create a secure, comfortable environment for them, their families and businesses.

An interdisciplinary team has been formed, putting together different geographies (Brazil and Europe) and disciplines (principally urban design, communication design, social sciences, law). The main partner institutions are:
- Università Iuav di Venezia, Venice, Italy
_ Latitude - Platform for Urban Research and Design, Brussels, Belgium
_ Centro Universitario La Salle, Canoas (in the metropolitan area of) Porto Alegre, Brazil (replacing UFRGS, Porto Alegre)

Overall 16 Experienced Researchers as well as Early Stage Researchers have taken part to the secondments so far, equally divided among the three partners (Iuav has enrolled one researcher more than the others). The duration of the field research has lasted from a minimum of about three weeks to about two months and half.
The cooperation among the partners has proved to be very effective, both in the preparation of the field research and during its implementation.
Even the withdraw of the project by UFRGS has caused a limited effect on the project: no economic impact, but the necessity of the project extension - in order to complete all administrative procedures to enroll Unilasalle.

During the two years of the project, the exchange among the institutions had led to important insights concerning the selected case studies. Moreover, the interaction among different disciplines and research centres has resulted in a virtuous dialogue during the outgoing phases of European researchers in Brazil and the incoming phase of Brazilian researchers in Europe. Researchers have taken part to academic meetings in the framework of master and Ph.D. programs, but they also had the opportunity to meet local administrators in dedicated meeting sessions.
The interest on Reducing Boundaries was not limited to the universities where the secondments took place, but it spread even on a broader area, as shown by both the participation of researchers to meetings in other cities and by the arrival of scholars from different research centres in Brussels and Venice to attend to the public sessions of the secondments.

As such, it can be stated that the two main aims of the “Reducing Boundaries” project has been accomplished:
- Exchanging knowledge, research tools and methodologies among the different partners taking part to the project
- Analyzing the issue of urban (in)security from the point of view of the upper classes in the three individuated case studies (Porto Alegre, Brussels, Veneto Region).

For details on the fulfillment of the concluded research phases, please read the following pages with special attention to the milestone achievements.
The project website offers an overview of the main research goals, methodology and scholars' profiles.

Regarding the forthcoming activities, a last seconment has to be accomplished. The European researchers, both from Iuav and Latitude are planning their activities in Canoas/ Porto Alegre, together with the local partner.
The main objectives of the secondment will be:
- improving the network: Iuav and Latitude will be at Centro Universitario La Salle, for the first time for a long period (researchers already met during WP2). It will be a very good occasion to enlarge the network of scholars interested in research topics, as well as a great chance to meet with other local experts and administrators.
- deepen and fine tuning the information collected during he first field research, since the focus of Centro Universitario La Salle, is law, sociology of law, criminology.

Approaching the end of the project, special care will be dedicated to the improvement of the research impact.
Besides the preparation of papers for international conferences, a final book will be edited, providing an overview of the security issue in the three case studies, focussing on the modification of both built environment and the dwellers' lifestyle.


Laura Casagrande, (Head of Research Support Office)
Tel.: +39 041 2571727


Life Sciences
Record Number: 193128 / Last updated on: 2017-01-16
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