Designers involved in the creation of significant new public buildings and public spaces have new design obligations to consider and integrate into designs.

Credible intelligence, assessed by Australian security agencies, indicates that individuals or groups continue to possess the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.

Australia’s National Terrorism Threat Level remains probable. Of particular concern are spaces that host mass public gatherings, where even a small scale attack by a lone actor or a hostile vehicle can have significant impact, particularly during community celebrations or on culturally significant dates.

Recent documents have been prepared by authorities that provide excellence guidance in the management and design of places of mass gathering include buildings and outdoor spaces. The first document, entitled the Improvised Explosive Device Guidelines Guidelines for Places of Mass Gathering (IED Guidelines), was prepared by the Australia-New Zealand Counter Terrorism Committee. The second document, Safe Places Vehicle Management: A Comprehensive Guide for Owners, Operators and Designers (Safe Place Vehicle Management Guidelines), was prepared by the NSW Police Force. Both documents are publically available.

The IED Guidelines are intended to assist people who own and operate places of mass public gathering. They outline the threat context and characteristic of IED incidents, as well as clear guidance on prevention of incidents and limiting damage to structures and people, including stand-off distances. The guidelines also address operational parameters of such spaces including preparedness, response and recovery. They are available here.

The Safe Places Vehicle Management Guidelines outline the definition of hostile vehicles and critical infrastructure, how to separate hostile traffic from pedestrians and buildings and smart design approaches. The design approaches include standoff distances, barriers, pedestrian area design and traffic management options to reduce speed and direction of travel. These guidelines emphasise that the security arrangements and design response should be proportionate to the threat. They note that by recognising and acknowledging in the design stages of a building or public space the persisting threat posed by vehicles, it is possible to achieve an optimal, holistic approach to safety and security. They are available here.

Both guidelines provide useful links to additional resources and more information.

Design professionals, particularly landscape architects, who are involved in concept design and design development for key public in and around our cities need to be fully conversant with these documents. In the same way as accessibility, sustainability and crime prevention guidelines have fundamentally influenced the way spaces are designed and managed, so do these new rules.

On a positive note, these guidelines embrace quality design outcomes that contribute positively to the success of the space. They seek early consideration and creative thinking leading to create successful integrated design solutions that are also cost effective. The guidelines reference examples of urban design and landscape architectural solutions including landscaping, artworks, levels and stairs to achieve desired performance outcomes.