How a considered design approach can protect retail environments against terrorism

  • 11 Nov 2016

Jane Embury, marketing director of steel and aluminium glazing specialist Wrightstyle, has spoken out about the importance of security and counter-terrorism measures in the retail sector on the run up to the Christmas holidays.

Basic counter-terrorism strategies must be considered for any venue where large numbers of people may congregate. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan recently commented that a terrorist attack like those seen across continental Europe in the past year is likely to happen in the UK sometime soon.

His statement has been backed up by new Security Minister Ben Wallace, who has already held talks with the managers of stadiums and shopping centres to review security, in addition to Europol, the EU law enforcement agency, which recently disclosed that 103 terror attacks were carried out, planned or foiled in Britain in 2015.

Not only has Jane Embury reiterated these comments in a blog post on the Wrightstyle website, she has also highlighted Government guidance on counter-terrorism and protective security measures that building professionals and architects can take during the design stages of a project to protect sites vulnerable to terrorist attack.

Jane recommends building designers seek advice from architectural liaison officers (ALOs), who can be contacted via the Secured by Design website, as well as counter-terrorism security advisers (CTSAs), who devise appropriate protective plans for areas susceptible to attack. CTSAs are trained and supported by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and can be contacted through local police forces or [email protected].

Counter-terrorism measures

There is an extensive range of protective design measures that can be incorporated into projects of any size or risk category including; landscaping to prevent vehicle access; vehicle-hostile street furniture and road layouts and staircases that create stand-off distances from explosive attacks.

Stand-off distance in particular is an important consideration, as a bomb detonating at seven metres from a façade will, depending on the size and type of explosive, generate blast pressure of up to one ton per square foot. At 30 metres, blast pressure falls to one-tenth of ton per square foot – within building regulation parameters on structural integrity.

Protective glazing systems

A growing trend in modern building design is the extensive use of glass to allow natural light into a building to create a more open and pleasant interior environment. However, it is also important that these glazing systems contain fire, smoke and toxic fumes and, where appropriate, withstand explosive detonation.

In bomb blasts the main cause of unjust and death is from broken glass and flying debris, but only in places where non-specialised glazing systems and glass have been installed.

At this point Jane highlights that Wrightstyle conducts live bomb testing on its advanced glazing systems, including simulated lorry bomb attacks (using 500kg of TNT-equivalent explosives) detonated 75 metres from a test rig, followed by a simulated car bomb attack on the same glazing system (100kg of explosives) detonated at a distance of 20 metres. In both instances the tests were successful and the glazing remained intact.

The company’s glazing systems have been supplied to retail and leisure regeneration schemes worldwide and are accredited to EU, US and Asia Pacific standards; with a focus on both aesthetics and security.

Jane concludes by emphasising that designing in safety has become an integral part of the retail environment and that modern glazing systems are playing an important part in the counter-terrorist narrative.

Unit 2&7 Banda Trading Estate,
Nursteed Road,
United Kingdom,
SN10 3DY

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