Schools do not need to sacrifice a welcoming entry to create a physical secure building.
“Eyes on the street” is a concept to help schools create safer learning environments.
Great schools foster a sense of safety, belonging and beauty at first sight. Even before entering a building, we can see the elements that foster community and connection–key ingredients in safe, healthy communities of learning.
Jane Jacobs, in her seminal work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” identified a key element of safe, vital communities as “eyes on the street” — the presence of people with a visual connection to the building entry.
Two problems work against a welcoming presence: one, a tendency to create grandiose, institutional entries rather than human-centered spaces, and two, the need for a strategy to address violent threats.
People don’t tend to congregate in the center of large open spaces–instead, they hug the edges, and look for the small amenities that support human comfort. A canopy with protection from rain and sun, places to sit, views to people learning and socializing inside, and a view to an administrative office are all key elements that create a welcoming entry.
Increasing violence in schools during the late 20th and early 21st centuries has spurred the science of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Layered access and natural surveillance, an extension of eyes on the street, are core design principles for safe campuses. As the sketch below illustrates, there is always at least one layer of security to public spaces, and two layers of security to Learning Communities.
The sketch below is a conceptual view of the elements of a welcoming entry, strong indoor-outdoor connections, layered access and learning communities working together in harmony.
The campus concepts for a welcoming entry are also illustrated in the photograph below of Texas Tech University Costa Rica on San Jose’s Avenue Escazu, where living, working, and learning are holistically integrated