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Protecting buildings from blasts: How to integrate protective objectives and security layers through good design

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In our previous blog, “Anatomy of a blast: How explosions harm buildings and people”, we took a close look at the physical properties of explosions and how they actually cause damage to structures and the people within and around them. As we saw, the various methods of explosive attacks can present a serious threat to the wellbeing of personnel and critical assets.

In this blog, we examine some of the principles of physical protection relative to preventing bomb attacks and to mitigating their harmful effects through design.

Of course, buildings and people can be at risk from many other threats than explosions–not least burglaries and ballistic attacks–but that’s the stuff of future blogs!

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The anatomy of a blast: How explosions harm buildings and people

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As physical protection experts, one of our main concerns is explosive attacks. Bombs and explosive devices have proven to be particularly destructive and dangerous to both people and structures. As we pointed out in our blog about attacks on embassies, explosive devices have become the go-to tool for those who would do harm to a building and its inhabitants. But why is that the case? Why are explosions so impactful, and what threat do they represent?

In this blog, we’ll first take a look at blasts, starting with the chemical reactions and physical processes that determine their strength. We’ll then examine the threats they represent, including methods of attack, and their damage and injury mechanisms for buildings and people.

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Five of the most iconic secure buildings in the world

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Once you start getting interested in secure buildings, you really can’t stop looking at what separates great buildings from the less great.

At one level, of course, physical security is all about creating an acceptable balance between the protective properties of a building’s perimeter, shell and cells. We’re sure you’ll notice these three key parameters in the descriptions below.

But when we started looking at which secure buildings are most iconic, other dimensions soon also proved themselves to be relevant. One example of this is the value and importance of what the building protects. Another is the cultural or symbolic significance of the building itself. A third is what the building protects against.

Our list is by no means exhaustive, but we think it’s a great start at describing some buildings that are iconic as they are secure. Feel free to make comments – and add to our list. 

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Physical Security and the 7th of January Terrorist Attacks in Paris

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Between January 7th and January 9th 2015, Paris and the Île-de-France region suffered five terrorist attacks. 17 people were killed (the three perpetrators included) and 22 others were wounded.

The first—and deadliest—of those attacks occurred on the 7th of January, when two gunmen (identified as belonging to Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch) assaulted the headquarters of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The attack was motivated by Charlie Hebdo’s satirical drawings and caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

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6 attacks that redefined embassy security

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Highly symbolic of the nations they represent, embassies are more than diplomatic missions: they are also targets of choice for anyone who has a grudge – peaceful or otherwise – with countries flying their flags abroad. Six attacks in particular have redefined embassy security around the world. Read the post