Concierges and Secure Communities

Interesting interview with Richard Rogers in in today’s Guardian. The conversation turned to high-rise living, and this snippet caught my eye

RR: We are beginning to learn that management is one of the key elements with tall buildings. Now, of course, people want to go back to tall buildings because it’s very easy to control security. You can have your CCTV cameras and the guardian at the bottom, and if you do it carefully that guardian will know everyone. Actually, it can become a community if you really work it properly. If you leave it empty and threatening and everyone pees in the lift, then you have a problem.

RP: Are you saying that the combination of management, the people inside and the design turn a building into a proper community?

RR: It’s a failing in British housing. On the continent, you have a concierge, and the concierge knows everybody. He knows if the woman on the top floor needs whatever it is with five kids or someone needs help and so on. Ideally, the concierge’s family is there and we get a form of community. We’ve been very slow on that here.

If, for a moment, you assume that life behind the firewall is analogous to high-rise living (secure, individuals are traceable and accountable etc.), then that would suggest that for the high-rise to work as a whole, there needs to be a concierge. Clubs need club secretaries, that sort of thing.

Stretching the point as ever … ho hum.

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