Dating back to the early centuries, structures were designed and built with protection in mind. From moats around a castle to barbed wire surrounding a prison, architecture has played a role in safety and security. In today’s society, architects must consider other factors. Take for example, a school. An architect designing a new school must consider the safety aspects while also accommodating the aesthetics – a welcoming learning environment that also keeps everyone safe. Amid the growing amount of shooting tragedies across the country, architects are finding new ways to design smart and create safe and secure buildings.
How architects design with security in mind
Many schools and universities have written protocols for active shooters and other threats, but more and more are bringing architects in at the early planning stages of development. Architects are able to create beautiful design that can also enhance safety.
Finding a balance
Designing a building that is safe, creates a positive learning environment and is appealing to the eye is the number one priority for architects. However, the design must be thoughtful for it to work. While a prison-like school may keep students safe from outside attacks, this approach may incite more violent behavior within the school and could affect the overall learning for the students. Good security design should be basically invisible.
Planning in advance
To plan in advance for safety threats, architects keep in mind things like the number of entrances and exits, visibility inside classrooms, placement of all windows and doors, design of main lobby area, and so much more. The goal of this safe design is to slow people down by placing small obstacles in their path. When it comes to school design, full visibility for administrators around the main lobby area is very important. While full visibility is important upfront, visibility walking through the hallways should be a little different. In the event of an active shooter, an architect should build in blind spots in the classroom. So if they are walking through the halls and they look through a classroom door window, they will not be able to tell that anyone is inside.
Keeping the students in mind
When designing a building, an architect must first and foremost put the student’s interests first. A student should not be intimidated or scared to go to school every morning and a large part of their experience comes from the environment. Creating an environment that nurtures learning and acceptance is immensely important for a student’s growth and overall mental health. While a building may look safe on paper with security cameras, designated entrances and exits, and multiple barriers to entry, it is also an important job of the architect to make the students must feel safe.
Photo Credit: KG+D Architects, PC. Middletown High School Innovation Labs – Middletown, NY