Security-conscious design of Public buildings- an assessment and optimization tool

Today when Architecture is no longer region-dependent, not as Climate governed and not as culture-specific, we find a shift towards new Global concerns. Next, to the sustainability concerns and the green revolution, Security and Resilience are the most popular captivation currently.

As externally the world grows more peaceful and there is less and less preoccupation with External security, defence expenditures, and wartime infrastructures, Governments are finding more and more involvement in internal security and Resilience to threats from within.

Some aspects like Women’s security and terror go even further to relate at a Global level to cut across cultures, languages and even religions. In these times the concepts of Liberty and freedom are threatened at a more immediate level thereby affecting modern-day sensibilities at the base and generating a totally new strain of paranoia and insecurity despite all the related efforts of the security establishments. In the contemporary world of Democracy, human rights and Civil Liberties we find more and more cases of psychological trauma and fear being reported and affecting the evolution of an entire generation.

As architects and designers of the physical environment, security has been the primary reason for the origin of architecture and is today a service as important as climate control. There are many ways of integrating security into mainstream architectural design. The idea is to embed it into the design concept just as one does for climate-responsive architecture.

The tricky part, however, is to achieve the right balance between actuality and perceptibility of the security in a physical environment, i.e. to make the inmates ‘feel secure’ without overdoing it. At the same time to judge how much security is required, how much to provide and how much of it is really effective takes a little more insight into the subject.

The research undertaken first examines all the data available on the subject to assimilate all the known design techniques for securing buildings in a comprehensive manner with least mechanization or dependence on personnel. Global theories and techniques need careful understanding and contextualization for the appropriate application. A cursory understanding of the psychological relationship is required to be able to respond to security needs in a well-rounded and sensitive manner.

Based on these inputs the research attempts to derive a mechanism to assess and quantify the security provisioned in any physical environment and achieve the required balance by optimization indicators. These tools should aid a generation of designers, policymakers and security men to come together and work in tandem to achieve a more comprehensive and effectively secure urban world.

Final intent and applications:

The author foresees a huge scope of application of the above-mentioned tool for the following commercial applications

To provide certification and rating to buildings: this may be done on similar lines to the green rating by Leeds or Griha in India. The purpose would be to give a complete picture to the end-users, policymakers and promoters of the built environment. This may become a major aspect of the publicity and sale of future buildings and as a marketing strategy too. The certification process would apply to buildings under design and existing built also.

Achievable levels of security may be re-defined as a part of the brief when formulating a project outline. Depending upon the security levels desirable, the tool may be used to guide project managers etc. draw up the broad requirements.

The tool may be used as a policy standard to guide the future developments of critical/public installations.

The tool may also be used by insurance companies to identify the actuatable of buildings to be insured and for them to scientifically assess the threat vs security components.