The Designers Role in Safety and Security: The Use of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) Principles as Case Study Explorations in D

Presented by: Linda O'Shea, Rula Awwad-Rafferty

Context Concern for safety and effective security in an increasingly complex and uncertain age has reshaped life in the United States and across the globe. Most significant for design implications is the direct impact safety and security have on the built environment. Designers of the 21st century must address safety and security needs throughout the design process and learn how to best integrate security solutions with overall design intent via the integration of security design thinking. A new approach to utilizing security in design thinking in theory and studio applications is needed. Through case study analysis, this presentation will provide educators with teaching tools and strategies to apply the principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) to the design process to create new and innovative design security concepts within the studio environment. Research Question/Theory Explored The use of CPTED principles is the overarching paradigm for understanding and applying safety and security precautions within the built environment. CPTED’s mission is “the proper design and effective use of the built environment that can lead to a reduction in the fear, incidence of crime, and an improvement in the quality of life. CPTED Security Paradigm: ? Natural surveillance: capacity to see what’s occurring without having to take special measures; ? Natural access control: capacity to limit who can gain entry to a facility, and how; ? Territoriality: capacity to establish authority over an environment; ? Maintenance: if a nuisance is allowed to exist unmitigated, it will lead to others; ? Target Hardening: designing a designated part of a building or space to be more difficult to forcibly enter Conceptually, the five CPTED principles are applied through a 3-D approach, i.e., the three functions or dimensions of human space: designation, definition and design. The 3-D approach is a space assessment and design thinking guide that helps the user to determine the appropriateness of how a space is designed and used. The 3 “Ds” in application are: ? Designation: what is the purpose or intention of the space? ? Definition: how is the space defined? What are the social, cultural, legal, and psychological ways the space is articulated? ? Design: is the space designed to support prescribed or intended behaviors? Through case study analysis the authors explore innovative and contextual relevant ways by which design practitioners can access risk, prevent potential security breaches, and mitigate incidents. This presentation will provide recommendations for application in student work that initiates design thinking, and provides project solutions that include safety and security considerations. Framework of Exploration Embracing an integrative approach that values physical and psychological security, a model was used to position safety and security within a contextual, sustainable, and user centered systems approach. Facility types selected for investigation were commercial spaces, educational facilities, and government facilities. Incident reports, expert analysis, and spatial layout were reviewed, focusing on design features that play a role in anticipating, and reducing impact of threats while designing built environments that support human needs. This presentation will provide case study analysis of one educational and one hospital setting as examples of the studio design scenerios that can address safety and security. Conclusions and Implications Among those most central to the security dialogue are design professionals responsible for creating healthy, safe, functional, and beautiful environments. Deisgn educators and students of the 21st Century need to be proactive, integrative, and visionary about safety and security and its valuable role in the health, safety and wellbeing of the public.


  • AS/NZS4360 - Risk Management Process. Qualified Audit Partners. Retrieved from
  • CPTED – Crime Prevention through Environmental Design Retrieved September 8, 2016
  • Design and Security in the Built Environment. O’Shea, L.; Awwad-Rafferty, R. 2009. Fairchild books.
  • Newman, O. (1972). Defensible Space: Crime Prevention through Urban Design. New York, Macmillan.
  • U.S. General Service Administration. Security Design. (Last Reviewed 2016-07-08). Retrieved from
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