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Conference paper

Understanding Melbourne’s Federation Square as a multidimensional field of security interventions: spatial observations of control

Public spaces Urban planning Public safety Melbourne
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apo-nid178786.docx 3.24 MB

Public security and anti-terror urban design is increasing in Australian cities as governments respond to continued extremist attacks worldwide. However, controlling safety measures are driven by security agencies and police, rather than urban design professionals. Oftentimes, such outcomes prove detrimental to urban amenity, sacrificing quality public space for security. There is limited critical research within Australian planning and design literature into security and counterterrorism; limiting planners’ ability to contribute meaningfully to public space safety. This research aims to address this gap and stimulate discussion about the architecture, planning and urban design industry’s role in securing public space while maintaining good design outcomes.This research examines security as a multidimensional field of spatial control, operating both spatially and temporally, that acts on public space and the people within it. Using Melbourne’s Federation Square as a case study, this research aims to reveal and understand how security measures are spatially arranged and the relationships between these controlling layers. Controlling security measures include panoptic devices, regulatory procedures and fortress measures. These measures are also designed to behave according to different timescales – responding to, preventing or pre-empting threats.Data consists of fieldwork spatial observations of the location, arrangement and actions of security measures with the Square. Patterns found at the scale of a single site are evident more broadly in Melbourne and other major Australian cities. Federation Square demonstrates how security measures have continued to increase in public spaces, despite Melbourne having never experienced a mass casualty terror event. This research aims to empower planners to work with security agencies in creating safe, well-designed public space.

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