Academic journal article Military Review

Diehard Buildings: Control Architecture-A Challenge for the Urban Warrior

Academic journal article Military Review

Diehard Buildings: Control Architecture-A Challenge for the Urban Warrior

Article excerpt

HOW DO CITIES control their populations, and how can the military benefit (or suffer) from current technology? How does urban design affect military mobility, responsiveness, and effectiveness? How should planners identify and consider control architecture when planning urban activities? What aspects of control technology should the military adapt and incorporate for military purposes?1

During early times, cities were designed to protect citizens from outside invaders. However, one aspect of city design was to protect richer and moreinfluential citizens from the depredations of the city's criminals or rioting mobs. Gated communities are relatively new to the United States but are common in other parts of the world, where high walls topped with broken glass protect the homes of the middle class and the well-to-do.

City planners today are not concerned with protecting cities from conquest; their first objective is usually traffic flow. Where security is a primary concern, however, planners seek to protect residents and high-value property from the city's more aggressive residents. Architects join planners in developing subtle ways to control public access to affluent residential areas, government buildings, banks, major firms, key industrial sites, and such buildings as presidential palaces. While the control aspect of urban design mainly interests architects, others, such as city planners, public safety officials, and military professionals, should be aware of such control aspects. For example, a country's military force might have to back up police and firefighters or capture a structure hardened by new technology.

Military efforts to recapture important urban buildings are often spectacular. Examples are the 1980 British Special Air Service assault on the Iranian Embassy in London; the 1985 Colombian military assault on the Palace of justice in Bogota; and the 1997 Peruvian military assault on the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima. Since then, many key buildings have been hardened and incorporate new control architecture. Hardened buildings present challenges to the military attacker, especially when attackers must limit collateral damage.

Control Architecture

Cities have historically controlled their populations by restricting access; canalizing movement; positioning military barracks or police and fire stations at critical points; gathering intelligence from criminal and dissident elements; modifying public behavior through laws, religion, and education; controlling access to commodities; segregating castes, races, classes, and trouble-prone businesses into designated neighborhoods; controlling movement to and through key neighborhoods and centers; and maintaining a system of rewards and punishments for their citizenry. When these efforts fail, city officials call in the military to help restore order. Modern technology and design assist in urban control while complicating the terrain in which a military force might operate.

Control architecture is the reasonably unobtrusive use of terrain, landscaping, structures, design, and technology to limit access, guide movement, thin and contain groups, or prevent entry to high-value buildings, urban centers, industrial sites, and affluent residential areas. While often appearing to improve access to an area, control architecture actually allows a small security element to control or deny access. Television monitors detect the presence of unwanted elements, microphones monitor conversations, and operators can shut off escalators and elevators remotely or activate barriers on access ramps electronically. Guards can seal intruders into a holding area that appears to be a normal lobby. Many centers are self-contained, having their own water, food, and electrical supplies. Although primarily designed to withstand assaults by criminals, terrorists, and rioters, hardened buildings are also resistant to a military force attempting to gain entrance. …

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