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Friday, April 19, 2024

Aesthetic architectural security


Jonathan Goss discusses the most effective way to counter criminal attacks on public buildings


There is an increasingly significant requirement for security and protection of public buildings and spaces from criminal and terrorist attacks. As high profile buildings step up their anti-terrorist protection, terrorists will look at alternative targets. 


Any crowded place is a potential target for vehicle-borne attack. In fact, the National Counter Terrorism Security Office has identified the following types of premises as being at particular risk: bars, pubs and clubs; shopping centres; stadia and arenas; visitor attractions; cinemas and theatres; hotels and restaurants; major events; commercial centres; education facilities; health premises and places of worship.


Architects have a duty of care for the people using these spaces and the growing importance to protect the public has been noted by the Royal Institute of British Architects in the ??RIBA guidance on designing for counter-terrorism?? document. 


However, landscape designers and architects have difficult choices to make when it comes to the need to protect a building, whilst keeping the harmonious relationship between functional hard landscape features and soft natural elements.


One robust solution is through perimeter protection using the CT (Counter Terror) Block system. Attractive defence lines can be installed around a building to make it safe against a 7.5 tonne vehicle incursion. Each block weighs 2.2 tonnes, only needs to be recessed 100mm below ground and is manufactured to PAS 68 standard, a classification for vehicle security barriers.


Designers at Gunwharf Quays Leisure Complex used CT Blocks to develop a perimeter security system, which complemented the coastal views and reflected the heritage design of existing landscaping. Using hardwood sapele timber surrounds to encase a CT Block system, complete with planting membrane and drainage material, an attractive planter was created to protect the location from the threat of hostile vehicle incursion.


Another example of creative perimeter security comes from architects at the Titanic Centre in Belfast (pictured). The landscape design surrounding the visually impressive tourist destination needed to look attractive yet also create a protective zone to prevent vehicle incursions.  


These projects are great examples of how design and security can work together. Whilst blending security measures into the architectural landscape these public spaces have been able to cleverly create a safe environment for visitors with a security system that actually enhances the visitor experience.


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