1.14 - ICON - The Impact of Closed Condominiums in the Urban Form

Project Description

The production process of the built environment of a particular city result from a variety of aspects, such as: built technologies, land-use regulations, real estate market dynamics, development strategies, housing policies and/or simply the individual or family preferences. Nowadays, these ways of production show great dynamics, mainly due to social, economic and cultural changes. The urban landscape of our contemporary cities and of their peripheries has been affected by the emergence and proliferation of great residential developments known as closed condominiums, separated from immediate surroundings by huge walls and gates, and managed by private associations. In a wide variety of national contexts, this new way of urban development (production) has been the focus of several research projects, which have been approached from different social, economic or political perspectives.

This is a controversial subject among urban planners. For some, closed condominiums constitute opportunities for urban innovation with new solutions and, for others, they represent a strong threat to our cities and our urban way of life. The research we have been developing points out that in Portugal closed condominiums have taken different forms with different impacts. According to different management procedures and built characteristics, closed condominiums can produce a wide variety of impacts inducing or restraining social and spatial segregation, different levels of security and senses of community and of belonging. With this research project, we intend to reach a deeper understanding of the physical and functional impacts of closed condominiums on the urban and suburban fabric, at a micro scale, and on the metropolitan form and structure, at a macro scale. We believe these two scales of analysis, which are closely related, will enhance the investigation of this complex new urban phenomenon.

Research Team
  • Paulo Pinho (coordinator)
  • Benedita Côrte-Real
  • Fernanda Sousa
  • Mafalda Ferreira
  • Sara Santos Cruz
  • Vítor Oliveira
Financial Support
  • FCT - Project: POCI/ECM/60475/2004
Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2007