Often, security measures have been an afterthought, an extra layer to an urban environment. Until recently, bollards, concrete blocks, and barriers have been scattered around cities as quick responses to increasing terror threats; consequently closing up our public spaces. Yet, urban designers and landscape architects argue that this does not have to be the case. Security measures do not have to be an extra layer to our urban landscapes, and they shouldn’t make people feel unsafe. Rather, they can be designed into our cityscapes in a way that is non-obtrusive – this is integrated security. In other words, planter walls, street furniture, and even sand dunes are examples of integrated security and can add to a city’s liveability by creating a space that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
It is important that our surroundings remain open and inclusive, and that the addition of physical security measures is integrated and proportionate to the assessed threat. Put simply, integrated security is when the application of HVM measures is holistic, ensuring that the level of protection is appropriate and does not compromise the aesthetics and functionality of our cityscapes (in some cases, HVM can add to these attributes).
The Role of Design
The following sections have been informed by CPNI’s piece on integrated and design-led security, A Public Realm Guide for Hostile Vehicle Mitigation. When it comes to ensuring that HVM measures are properly integrated into the environment, a fresh approach is required from designers of the public realm to provide proportionate security whilst also creating an aesthetically pleasing result. Urban designers and landscape architects use design thinking and technical information to approach these challenges. And along with many other public realm design drivers, security measures should be considered early on in the design process to ensure that HVM measures are integrated successfully into new proposals. Over the past decade security has become a significant part of our urban landscape, so it is increasingly important that a holistic approach is adopted to develop integrated strategies that create balanced responses. In many instances, when it comes to urban landscapes that have already been established, HVM measures are not considered at the outset and solutions need to be retrofitted. According to CPNI, “Unless well thought through and designed, these solutions may provide less effective security, be more costly, and have a negative visual impact. Interventions will vary from a macro scale of site master planning to a micro scale of detailed physical restraints.” Depending on the landscape, some solutions may be discreet, and others overt. However, every place and situation will call for a different site-specific solution.
Effective Security Design: Holistic and Layered Approaches
There are two effective approaches to security in a cityscape: holistic and layered. As pointed out in CPNI’s study, “A holistic approach acknowledges and responds to the interdependence of physical measures with electronic and procedural security measures to ensure that overall security is enhanced rather than compromised.” Depending on the time of day or year, the level of threat in an urban space may vary. Effective security design will, therefore, recognise that the threat level will fluctuate and will be flexible through the use of re-deployable or contingency solutions during peak hours of crowd density or during certain events, such as Christmas markets or concerts.
Alongside a holistic approach, an effective security plan is successful when it is implemented on a number of geographic layers – in other words a layered approach to security. When it comes to HVM measures, layers can feature access control and vehicle management on a district level, design of approach routes, further vehicle management and stand-off distances and secure threshold design to immediate vicinity of the asset.
According to CPNI, the following six key design principles are all characteristics of successfully integrated HVM measures in the public realm. Along with a site-specific response, effective HVM measures will:
- Consider forward planning and flexibility to counter developing threats
- Provide mitigation measures proportionate to the threats
- Be designed to enhance the settings
- Include multi-functional elements
- Ensure an accessible and inclusive environment
- Be designed with maintenance in mind
Elements from public art to street furniture can be adapted and developed (in terms of structure and dimensions) to provide integrated HVM. Similar to many characteristics of public realm design, early planning that considers the opportunities and constraints of HVM is an important part of producing an integrated and holistic security plan. In an interview with Unafor, Monica Galiana Rodriguez explains the importance of considering security requirements in the early design phases. “Starting from the early design phases, we have to, as designers, understand what the actual security requirements are, then we brainstorm and present the feedback. What we usually experience is that, when you make the effort to understand, then there’s room for alternatives.” Equally as important are the considerations carried throughout the design process to delivery on the ground. Finally, a long-term requirement of monitoring and maintaining HVM measures is important to ensure that the measures continue to perform well as successful HVM solutions and aesthetic elements for the urban space.