Hostile Vehicle Mitigation – a guide for architects

 The UK and Europe have recently witnessed a string of horrific terrorist attacks. As worrying as the increasing frequency, is the use of vehicles to target crowds of people. Online terrorist propaganda is glorifying vehicle terrorism attacks and calling for further emulation of them – a move that has put security services on full alert.

 In order to protect citizens, planning law very wisely dictates that all new build and regeneration projects need to satisfy modern standards of perimeter security. However, frustratingly for those seeking to achieve a very specific project look – exterior perimeter security is often the last thing to be specified.

This means that when budgets overrun, basic specification Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) products end up detracting from the look. To avoid this, architects need to control all aspects of the visual execution of a project from the outset.

 To help architects, designers and town planners to achieve their visual aspirations while protecting citizens, we have pulled together guide to help you through the process.

What is Hostile Vehicle Mitigation?

Hostile Vehicle Mitigation is a system of permanently installed perimeter security products that is strategically designed to stop speeding vehicles from harming people or property. The term is heavily associated with counter-terror prevention, anti-crime measures as well as the more everyday general safety aim of keeping pedestrians and vehicles separate.

Physical, highly engineered barriers such as counter-terror blocks, PAS 68 bollards and PAS 68 rated vehicle barriers and planters, block access to restricted or pedestrianised areas. The idea of HVM systems is to close physical space and eliminate vehicle access by using engineered products to act as physical barriers.  

 Most HVM systems will be installed in and around busy pedestrian areas or around the perimeter of buildings that experience significant footfall i.e. airports, train stations, hospitals or national landmark

Architectural Hostile Vehicle Mitigation

Safety and impact resistance are the priority when it comes to Hostile Vehicle Mitigation – but design and aesthetics are also incredibly important. The look and feel of a building or public space is paramount when it comes to striking the right balance between the public being protected against hostile vehicle attacks without feeling as though they are living under the constant threat of attack.

Security measures that are obviously security measures, can appear obtrusive to the general public, creating a feeling of restriction. This represents a challenge for architecture and design professionals. It is important to remember that while a challenge, it is possible to install physical security measures that provide the correct level of protection without taking away from the aesthetics of the surrounding environment.

Creative innovation is paving the way for seamlessly integrated protection measures that complement and enhance public and private spaces. Indeed in instances where architects and designers have greater early stage authority regarding Hostile Vehicle Mitigation specification – products can actually enhance the look and functionality of spaces.

Here at Concrete Barriers HQ, we manufacture all of our counter terror perimeter security products with the appearance of the urban landscape in mind. This ensures that effective perimeter protection blends into and complements the surrounding environment, preserving public freedoms.

 A key piece of advice with regards softening the visual impact is to maximise the protection offered by natural barriers and deflections by installing a combination of HVM products such as counter-terror blocks, PAS 68 bollards and counter-terror planters. This ensures installations blend naturally into the streetscape and don’t cause the general public any undue alarm.

What is PAS 68?

 If you are working on UK project with pre-agreed perimeter security needs, you will need to procure products that are PAS 68 rated. PAS 68: 2010 is a standard which was created by the UK government in conjunction with perimeter security manufacturers to create a benchmark against which perimeter security products, such as our counter terror blocks, planters and bollards, could be tested.

 The standard is a mark that demonstrates that perimeter security products have been tested. If a product has met the PAS 68 standard then you can be sure it is high quality and will behave as you would expect it to when installed.

 As well as taking your design considerations into account, you should always ensure that the products come with PAS 68 rating. This is essentially a way of measuring the effectiveness of a HVM product. If products don’t carry this certification, they simply cannot be relied upon to protect the public against vehicle-borne attacks – no matter how much they enhance the look and feel of a building or space.

 Our products are PAS 68 tested meaning you can be sure they have passed extensive testing to assess a product’s tolerance to vehicle impact

An example of architectural Hostile Vehicle Mitigation

A good example of how beautiful, design-led systems can provide subtle yet effective vehicle mitigation is 20 Fenchurch Street. Designed by Rafael Viñoly, the “Walkie-Talkie” skyscraper breaks the rules of architecture by increasing in size near the top of the building rather than the bottom, creating a unique design.

To ensure the architectural ethos of the building remained intact, security engineering consultants QCIC asked us to create a bespoke perimeter security solution to protect the building from vehicle attacks and while providing a memorable and high quality urban landscape at ground level.

 Working with the leading stone brick work firm Gormley, we created and installed six PAS 68 counter terror blocks, which are finished with granite and incorporate LED spot lighting on the sides.

 The resulting blocks not only provide physical security at the base of the building, but act as seating for passersby. So subtly and architecturally does the installation tie into the prestigious City of London environment – guests at 20 Fenchurch Street will be subconsciously unaware that the stylish seating they enjoy is a carefully crafted hostile vehicle barrier system.