If security was integrated with building design one benefit would be less hassle getting into meetings

In the last decade words like terrorism, bombs, evacuation, devastation and destruction have become increasingly prominent in our vocabularies and with the MI5’s current UK terrorist threat level set at “severe”, it appears there may be some longevity to our concerns.

The chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling recently announced changes to spending on counter terrorism and security. In his pre-budget report, the chancellor stated that the total annual expenditure on counter terrorism and intelligence will increase to £3.5bn by 2010/11, up from £2.5bn in 2007/08.

The emphasis on this increased budget is being placed on improving intelligence and maximising security in a pro-active approach to eliminating terrorist activity in the UK. So what implications will this have on the built environment and building design?

Right now, building coordination seems to be the approach most organisations in commercial buildings are adopting in an attempt to improve building security. Going to a client meeting these days can be an arduous task. It has sometimes taken us 40 minutes to get into a meeting because of all the security checks, name tags, phone calls, lift escorts, etc.

Surely we can improve on this system through building design. A number of security consultants specify things like turnstiles, photobadging, security guards and access control.

In a new build scenario I would have thought that effective building coordination could reduce the requirement for these things through forward thinking during the initial design stages. This would almost certainly reduce the client’s fit out costs.

In the five years up to the Olympics let's hope that security becomes more than an afterthought.