Countering terrorism through design ... RIBA launch new guidelines

The bombing of London’s transport infrastructure on 7 July 2005 and the failed Underground bombings two weeks later, along with the abortive car bomb attacks targeting a central London nightclub and Glasgow Airport in June 2007, highlighted the importance of ensuring the critical parts of the UK’s national infrastructure are protected against terrorism.
Lord West of Spithead was commissioned by the government to review the UK’s preparedness for future terrorist attacks. His findings identified that a new effort to ‘design in’ counter- terrorism protective security was needed. In response, the Home Office and the Office for Communities and Local Government published new guidance on designing for counter-terrorism in the built environment.
The three documents, Working together to protect crowded places, Crowded places: the planning system and counter- terrorism, and Protecting crowded places: design and technical issues, outline advice for local authorities, police, businesses, planners and architects to reduce vulnerability in crowded places.
The documents now form a material consideration in the planning system and in some instances a design and access statement specific to counter-terrorism will be necessary. To establish whether counter-terrorism is material to your project, and to formulate an effective strategy, specialist advice should be sought. Your first point of contact should be your local counter-terrorism security adviser (CTSA); they can be found on local police force websites or directly through us at the Continuity Forum.
Counter-terrorism and the built environment
Our contemporary built environment faces a number of challenges. Terrorism has been and is again one such significant challenge for the UK. Designing for counter- terrorism in the built environment is complex, involving many different players and agencies. The aim of this document is to explain this landscape so that those who are considering or may need to consider counter-terrorism in their projects are able to develop their own measured response to the issue.
In high profile buildings or crowded places that may be attractive targets for terrorists, the challenge for designers is to incorporate counter-terrorism (CT) measures into their buildings and public spaces whilst maintaining quality of place. Therefore the challenge and opportunity for architects and designers is to design in security features from the outset – when any additional cost will be minimal compared to retrofits and how they are integrated and look on site is still maintained by the design team.
Developing counter-terror protection regimes is seldom a straightforward process and when considering incorporation of CT measures, individual cases should be examined through calculated assessment of their particular merits and requirements. Each will invariably differ according to location and assessed threat. Whatever the need, embracing these differences can pose a challenge to designers, but may also provide a canvas for positive enterprise and innovative ideas to emerge. It is fundamentally this ideal of innovation in protection that underpins the aim and objectives of this design guide.
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