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Security overlay all the rage

Security overlay all the rage

11th June 2012

Just 50 days to go now to the London 2012 Olympics and we’re in full-swing manufacturing and installing perimeter protection systems for securing temporary facilities at the Games.

Zaun is currently working on four temporary sites, both in the heart of London and away from the capital.  It’s all part of a massive growth in the trend for ‘overlay’, the term used for the temporary elements of ‘event architecture’ that supplement existing buildings and infrastructure to enable major sporting events or festivals to take place.

These elements provide additional facilities for the duration of an event and are generally of a lightweight construction, as they are often removed afterwards.

With the threat of international terrorism currently set at the Home Office’s ‘substantial’ rating, there’s a similar need for ‘security overlay’ to protect those temporary facilities.

We’ve got to be able to deploy the security overlay rapidly and with minimal disruption to the ongoing operation of the venue.

For instance, six weeks ago, we put security overlay into Brighton at the Council of Europe meeting hosted by the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP in a few hours – and dismantled it again as soon as the event was over.

Council of Europe Rapid Deployable System HVM installation

Council of Europe Rapid Deployable System HVM installation

It included temporary high security fencing that provided what is called hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM), protecting against deliberate attempts to penetrate security cordons with vehicles driven at speed at barriers.  No mean feat for a temporary structure that took just a few hours to erect.

The use of security overlay is increasingly extensive and can cover all aspects of a major event, starting with the ‘back of house’ user groups, including staff, operations, officials, broadcast, press, hospitality, VIPs and the athletes or performers themselves.

These groups all need rooms to house accreditation, accommodation, segregation and media facilities, which need to be separated from, but connected to, the spectators at the ‘front of house’, to preserve the magic and mystery of the event experience.

Overlay typically includes tents, bleachers, staging, signage, temporary tracks and floors – as well as the kind of security cordons we deal in – designed to provide access to sites and walkways and safe access for spectators.

It is important that the overlay design is integrated into the masterplan of major events at an early stage, in order that the flow of people through the site can be effectively managed and sufficient space provided for the various overlay elements.

The overlay design also has a significant role in helping to define the overall environment of a major event – its ‘look and feel’. The aim is to treat temporary sites with the same attention that would be applied to their permanent equivalents, to deliver a coherent temporary environment.

By adopting a design-inclusive approach and considering the cultural and design aspects alongside the commercial and functional requirements, memorable spaces can be created out of simple components and hired entities.

For the London 2012 Olympic Games, Populous is the official architectural and overlay design services provider and their commitment to accessibility and sustainability has a preceding history, as they have worked at nine Olympics to date.

In large scale events, such as Olympic Games, the considerations are multiplied a hundredfold.  London 2012, for example, involves 26 Olympic sports and 20 Paralympic sports across 29 venues in 27 days – the equivalent of 541 concurrent days of sports competition.