‘The Self-Defensive City‘
Berlin, 11 April 2019
The use of structural measures to protect against the risks of terrorism is becoming an increasingly important aspect of urban planning. Such defensive measures are guided by three different philosophies, according to the architect Theo Deutinger, speaking at the specialist forum Future City@Grünbau Berlin 2019 (Zukunft Stadt@Grünbau Berlin). In front of the Arsenal stadium in London, for example, a sign that is more than head-high is used to protect against motorised attackers. However, because it harmonises so well with its urban surroundings it is not apparent to passers-by that this sign fulfils a protective purpose. By way of contrast, in New York the protective measures around Ground Zero are very evident. The structural work suggests a ‘mediaeval portcullis’, says Deutinger. There is also extensive video monitoring.
In comparison, as Deutinger points out, the armrests on park benches which are intended to prevent their night-time use by homeless people, look quite innocuous. Discussions about aesthetics in urban planning are made more difficult because of the primary need to provide security, Deutinger stated. “If we carry on like this the entire city will look like an airport.”