Best practice to protect a buildingPrint

Consider alternatives first

  • Before committing to using elements like locks, bars or grills, consider other safe design principles first. 
  • Restricting access to upper floors and entrances to a building may make extra security measures unnecessary. For example, emergency ladders should not be accessible to the public from the street in non-emergency situations.
  • Security elements for the site should be selected during the design phase of the development. Especially consider how conditions change throughout the day and night and design accordingly. 

Support with clear visibility

  • Interior lighting from retail stores can help to increase ambient lighting on the street.
  • Building entrance and exit points should be visible from the street so they are in clear sight of passers-by. The more people that overlook the space, the safer it will feel.
  • Use plenty of lighting around entrances to ensure visibility at all times of the day.
  • To increase safety of the main lobby, it should be clearly visible from the entrance of the building.
  • Lifts and staircases should be in a visible location. Avoid locating them in corners or recessed areas. 

Control access

Entrances are vulnerable spots in a building and need to be secured by restricting access to the public.
  • Use electronic methods, like key cards, to control access to buildings and indoor spaces.
  • Restrict access through balconies or emergency exits to upper levels of the building. If this not possible, consider one-way exit doors.

Set boundaries between spaces

  • The topography of a site can be used to define spaces by:
    • using different ground surface treatments
    • incorporating changes of levels
    • using landscaping.
  • Fencing is a common method of defining site boundaries. Front yard fencing should be:
    • 1.2m in height or
    • 1.8m in height for up to 50 per cent of the site frontage and 1.2m for the rest or
    • 1.8m in height if the fence is at least 50 per cent visually permeable.
  • High opaque fences should be avoided as they cut off visibility between the sites and prevent opportunities for passive surveillance.
  • Permeable fencing or see-through gates create buffers between spaces without compromising visibility.
  • Lower, less solid fencing can be used to discourage graffiti. Pool-style fencing is the best for this purpose.
  • As another method, that will also visually enrich the community, try approaching fencing creatively and make is a sculptural piece of a design. ​


Design features

  • Think carefully about who the users of the space are and how the design might impact them. For instance, instead of using a gate at an entrance, consider using bollards to allow access for prams or wheelchairs, while still stopping vehicles from passing.
  • Bars, grilles, and fencing should be well incorporated into the design so they do not negatively impact the image of the place.
  • Use materials and techniques that discourage graffiti and vandalism.


More can be found in the section on See and be seen​.
  • CCTV in public spaces should be considered on a case by case basis.
  • CCTV cameras are most effective when they are monitored, especially during vulnerable hours. This can be done by an agency, like private security firms or the police, who are able to respond quickly to emergencies.
  • Provide adequate lighting to improve camera visibility and effectiveness.

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