In its modern form, a gated community is a form of closed community, characterized by a controlled entrance for pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles, usually staffed by full-time, private security guards, that leads into one or more small residential streets, with walls or fences surrounding the perimeter of the entire development. Many gated communities have various amenities which make it possible for residents to stay within the community for day-to-day activities.
Gated communities are a type of Common Interest Community (CIC) or Common Interest Development (CID).
A worldwide phenomenon
A limited number of gated communities have long been established for foreigners in various regions of the world. Some examples include, the worker compounds in the Middle East, built largely for the oil industry, or the compounds built under apartheid in South Africa.
In more recent times, a much larger number of gated communities has rapidly developed in various regions throughout the world, especially in China, Mexico, and the United States. Especially in China, the trend towards gated communities is accelerating, in response to changing laws and economics.
In 2000, eight million U.S. residents lived in gated communities. However, in China, by law, all new residential developments are gated, and China is already well on the way to overtaking the U.S. for the largest number of residents living in gated communities (more info) (http://www.gated-communities.de/Abstracts%20New%20Orleans.htm).
J.G. Ballard has examined the phenomena in his novel Super-Cannes.
Real estate developers design and build gated communities because buyers want them; the existence of walls and gates around a community enhances the value of the homes located there. Many homeowners prefer to live in gated communities, just as many apartment dwellers prefer secured buildings, not only as a deterrent to crime, but also to enjoy privacy and peace of mind.
Physical walls, in some cases fortified and surveilled, give the inhabitants a sense of security. Some sociologists have criticized the creation of these type of walls as fortressing. Opponents of gated communities argue that physical segregation is not always necessary to create defensible space, that is, to establish control over a particular space. They claim symbolic barriers can be sufficient.
Another attribute of gated communities is that in many cases their population is homogeneous, that is, grouped along boundaries of social class, race/ethnicity or culture. White flight is often a factor in this respect.
Some of the newest gated communities in China include:
- Riverside Garden (more info) (http://22.214.171.124/74598586884554752/20021226/1045557.shtml), (Shenyang city, Liaoning province) A luxury development with over 1,000 housing units, a supermarket, business center, laundry delivery service, tennis court, and fitness club.
- Beijing Riviera (more info) (http://www.bjriviera.com/select.html), (Chaoyang District, Beijing) This multi-faceted development includes hundreds of apartments, condominiums, and villas, along with an onsite water treatment plant, an office center, sports and recreation facilities (including swimming pools, tennis courts, a skate park, and a golf driving range), a supermarket, a beauty salon, and a travel agency.
- Oriental Grand Garden (more info) (http://www.moveandstay.com/shanghai/apartments_description.asp?id=1451) (Pudong District, Shanghai) The facilities at this gated community include a swimming pool, spa, gym, tennis court, a hair salon, and a 24-hour convenience store.
Some of the gated communities in Mexico include:
- Bajamar (more info) (http://www.bajaexpo.com/cities/bajam.htm#anchor234567), Baja A gated complex of homes and condominiums, with a view of the Pacific Ocean, centered around a 27-hole gold course.
- Chula Vista Norte (more info) (http://www.mexconnect.com/amex/cvn/), (San Antonio, Jalisco) This secure development overlooks Lake Chapala, and offers various sizes of lots on which to build homes.
An example of a gated community in the United States is Seagate in Brooklyn (New York City).