Security Design & Project Management

When thinking of security, people tend to think of cameras, security officers and metal detectors. While these are all important elements of building security, the best security plans begin long before these elements are installed, and long before the building itself is even constructed. They begin on the drawing board, as designers and clients come together to sketch out buildings able to withstand a wide variety of threats, ranging from natural disasters to man-made attacks and cybersecurity concerns.

DPH Security Consultancy specialises in corporate and urban security architectural design and can help clients achieve a variety of security needs, from the everyday to the top-secret. Some clients are simply seeking to provide a safe, comfortable workplace – after all, we all want to feel secure when we are at work or at school. For other clients, security is of paramount importance – they are responsible for critical data and operations that must be protected from natural and man-made threats. Their buildings are more than just structures – they are targets, living in an increasingly unpredictable society . In each case, good design can be a very powerful defence mechanism.



The creation of open, visible spaces should be carefully balanced with measures controlling and restricting building access, to ensure that the open spaces themselves do not increase potential threats. The wayfinding strategies built into a facility are key to achieving this goal. Signs, placards and other markers should guide all visitors to a central area upon entering the building, with minimal opportunity to disperse into other rooms. This makes it much easier for on-site security personnel to scan incoming visitors and identify potential threats. Lighting, artwork and other interior design elements should subconsciously enforce this direction by emphasising spaces where designers most wish to draw the eye and direct visitors’ footsteps.

Aside from pedestrian access, secure designs should also limit vehicle access and, as much as possible, remove a building from the radius of external threats.

Effective physical security design of an asset can be achieved by multi-layering the different measures, what is commonly referred to as ‘defence-in-depth’. The concept is based on the principle that the security of an asset is not significantly reduced with the loss of any single layer. Each layer of security may be comprised of different elements, including for example:

  • Measures to assist in the detection of threat weapons, including for example explosives, knives, firearms, chemical/biological/radiological material etc.
  • Measures to assist in the detection, tracking and monitoring of intruders and other threats, such as unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Access control and locking systems
  • Physical and active barriers to deny or delay the progress of adversaries
  • Measures to protect people or assets from the effect of blast or ballistic attack
  • Measures to protect against or limit the spread of chemical, biological or radiological material
  • Measures to protect sensitive (e.g. classified) material or assets
  • Command and control
  • The response to an incident
  • Security personnel (covered within the Personnel and People Security)

The above measures are interdependent and their effectiveness will be dictated by their ability to support one another. For this and a variety of other reasons, DPH Security Consultancy recommends that all security measures are developed following the security design process.

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It is very important that the security design process is based upon the correct threat planning assumptions and that exercises (e.g. table top) are conducted to ensure that planned security measures will work together to deliver the intended effect.

Considering the physical security requirements at the outset, as part of the building or facility design, will often result in more effective and lower cost security. For new builds, high level security requirements should be incorporated into the original brief.

Physical security requirements should also be considered during the construction phase of new builds or the modification of existing facilities, as these are likely to be subject to different risks and issues. Consideration should be given to:

  • Identification and assessment of existing and new security risks
  • Identification of security requirements for both the construction works and any changes to the security of the facility itself (this will depend on whether the construction works are adjacent to or within the facility)
  • Determination of the transition of the security measures from ‘construction phase’ into normal operations.
Promoted by Derek Horne on behalf of DPH Security Consultancy Ltd, both at Dane John Works, Gordon Road, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom, CT1 3PP
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