Designing Out Crime Research Center


Frequent cases of assaults, fights and murders at the King Cross district in Sydney led to a more restrictive liquor law which increased security in the direct neighbourhood but have displaced violence to other suburbs and led to closure of many local pubs and restaurants. Designing Out Crime took up the challenge of alcohol-fuelled violence in this area renowned for its vivid nightlife. The design team approached the problem by imagining Kings Cross as a music festival and learn from existing and effective methods of organization and control of a big crowd of young partygoers drinking alcohol. Two approaches to solve this problem were identified: Distraction (drifting one’s attention away) and Extraction (leaving the area). Every weekend night in Kings Cross, pubs and clubs were emptying vast numbers of intoxicated youth at roughly the same time. Footpaths and passages became congested. Sharp neon lights attack the senses from everywhere, there is no place to sit, have a rest, sober up, do something – a simple recipe for tension and conflicts. Distraction was needed. The researchers suggested softer outdoor lighting and, on weekend evenings, closing a main street in the Cross to increase the comfort of walking partygoers. It was also suggested to install food stalls along this street, new sitting areas and outdoor entertainment in the form of street performers and interactive games. The idea assumed a process of “unconscious sobering”. The second strategy was the extraction, leaving the district and coming back home. Packs of young people arrived at the place more or less at the same time with the last train leaving shortly thereafter. Revellers could not come back home comfortably and were left with an option of waiting in an hour-long queue for an expensive taxi ride, which caused frustration and impatience. Sparse access to toilets was also a big problem. As a result, additional night buses were scheduled, amenities added, and volunteer guides were present at peak times to ensure partygoers were well informed and feeling safe. The Safe Space initiative was launched to provide support to those who required first aid, a charged phone, transport home or a comfortable place to wait for friends. Some of the implemented solutions are still in place today, although the legislative measures imposed since have transformed Kings Cross into a less active area. An important outcome of this initiative is a comprehensive approach to nightlife violence without exaggerated reactions and overly restrictive regulations.










Designing Out Crime




Kings Cross. Sydney