Designing for security does not equate to creating defensive architecture that looks like a fortress and feels like a prison. Instead, modern architects are growing more and more adept at designing safe spaces that feature subtle, and sometimes even beautiful, in-built security features. By working with criminologists, industrial designers, security companies, and other key contributors, architects are able to work security into the fabric of a building from the outset, striking an ideal balance between form and function. Below, we explore some of the most fascinating ways architects are designing for security in the 21st century.

Crime prevention through environmental design

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a branch of criminology dedicated to precisely what its title suggests. By working with specialists in this field, architects can design buildings that are intrinsically unfavourable for criminal activity. Glass walls, for example, can remove blind spots and hiding places, reducing the risk of muggings and other interpersonal crimes.  
Glass walls: an example of passive security in architecture
Photo: Laura Tancredi & Pexels
CPTED concepts can help architects create buildings that offer natural access control and easy surveillance, deterring criminal activity while simultaneously supporting legitimate uses of the space. Even something as simple as including pathways in the grounds can prevent a property from being used as a shortcut while directing pedestrian traffic along designated (and controlled) trajectories.  Photo: Laura Tancredi from Pexels

Art can improve building security

Both inside and outside of buildings, artworks, landscaping, and other decorative features can be used as subtle barriers that cordon off certain areas and control the flow of visitors to the building. A fantastic example of this comes from landscape architect Mikyoung Kim, who designed a fountain for the Little Rock Courthouse in Arkansas The fountain adds beauty to the nearby park, creates a visual barrier between the park and the courthouse, but most importantly, the sturdy stainless steel construction protects the courthouse from vehicular attacks.

The importance of working with security companies 

So far, we’ve explored the ways in which criminologists, industrial designers and artists can collaborate with architects to create buildings and features that offer subtle forms of security. While these measures reduce the capacity for criminals to target a building for theft, vandalism, and other nefarious activity, it’s still essential to integrate smart security systems into a building’s design from the start. In residential design, top architects give homeowners the scope to pre-plan future security upgrades through the process of pre-wiring. By working with a security company in the planning stages, architects can include pre-wiring both for the initial security system and for any upgrades that may be made down the track. Cables and wiring can be run for things the homeowner would like to have in the future, like motion detectors, an intercom system, or home automation devices.  Though BPoint regularly retrofits such home security measures, preparing for them at the design stage allows for seamless integration with other design elements and security measures. By working with qualified security professionals, architects can plan out flexible homes that are able to adapt to the changing security needs of the owners. 

The beauty of discrete security measures 

Certain environments – like schools, homes, and offices – benefit greatly from discreet security measures that deter criminals and provide protection and confidence without making the environment feel too stark or soulless. A highly fortified building may be functional, but if it looks intimidating and makes users uncomfortable, the intensive security measures can end up undermining the building’s original intended purpose.  In buildings designed for customer interaction, like banks, restaurants, and retail stores, architects and security professionals are collaborating on the installation of discrete measures like hotkeys at workstations which can be programmed to trigger the building’s security personnel or emergency services. Networked door locking systems can be used both automatically and manually to lock down certain areas in case of a critical event. There are also sensors capable of detecting activity and issuing location-based alerts, allowing for a targeted and near-instantaneous response to security breaches. In homes, schools, and offices, landscape architects can also create a range of discrete features that make ingress and egress difficult for intruders. From the configuration of the space to the placement of garden beds and the selection of plants, particularly those used for ground cover, a landscape architect can create an environment that looks beautiful to those who use it but difficult and uninviting to those who have criminal intent.  One of the simplest forms of discreet security is lighting. For example, ensuring office corridors, common areas, parking lots, and the surrounding grounds are well-lit will go a long way toward boosting the comfort and confidence of employees while deterring criminal activity at all hours of the day. 

Including visible security features in key places 

While discreet security measures are essential for ensuring the original intended purposes of a building are able to be comfortably carried out, well-placed visible security features are also important to include in the design phase.  If they are carefully considered, these features can make legitimate users of a building feel more comfortable as they offer evidence of the protective measures in place. At the same time, the visibility of features like CCTV cameras, access control systems, and alarms have a powerful deterrent effect on would-be criminals.  Modern security cameras come in a wide range of options, with many offering elegant aesthetics that work hand-in-hand with their state-of-the-art functionality. Even intercoms and alarm systems can be selected to match the overall aesthetic of a building, adding sleek elegance and a deep sense of security.  Whether it’s your home, workplace, school, or any other facility, much of your sense of comfort in a building comes from knowing that there are safety and security measures in place. However, if the right balance between form and function is not achieved, the very security measures that keep you safe can make you feel like you’ve stepped into an Orwellian nightmare.  This is why architects the world over are working on cutting-edge features like those described above. By collaborating with experts in fields ranging from art and design to security and criminology, they are able to provide us with safe spaces that are as comfortable and inviting as they are secure. If you’re in the process of designing a building and would like to know more about the security measures that can be seamlessly integrated from the outset, contact BPoint today for a no-obligation quote.