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The City Between Freedom and Security
Security measures can cost more than they taste. Consideration of well-being and safety in the urban space is a demanding balance. 


Security in the public space has long been a factor that every world citizen has had to deal with to a greater or lesser extent, but something few have had the opportunity to get a thorough introduction to. You can now, but be prepared for it to be quite a long and dark corridor, with the occasional scary surprise on the road. The book is black on the outside and has 336 pages, most written in small print. Potentially scary, because the National Security Authority (NMS), the Police Security Service (PST), and the UK's Center for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) are some of the contributors. There, among other things, PST has written a post about how security for you and me can be a balance between «function, budgets, material resilience (resilience) and design ».

This is a matter of course, but of course the undersigned had thought little before this book.

Oversized flower pots. The book is a bit like an architectural signature building itself: mirrorless and cold on the outside, with elements of natural touch as you move into the book's room. It is an elegant combination of cold and soft, smooth and material. After opening the cover, an unusual book back with exposed binding appears. Black, CMYK yellow and white with clear chapter transitions, easy-to-understand topic sections, quotes, and thorough credit.

It must have been a hell of a floor plan that formed the basis for the sewing of the project. The book is very comprehensive, has a good balance between the different contributors, is well written (the foreword, written by the head of the Bergen School of Architecture, Cecilie Andersson), and not least it includes a number of detailed drawings from all the world's crickets, hooks and hubs, which show how different security measures have been implemented. This, for example, in the form of installations, barriers, watchtowers, video surveillance, underground reinforced concrete – not to mention the oversized flower pots that have sprung up everywhere in this country. Each one big enough to accommodate a slightly short-lived student with modest needs.

You can aesthetize the safety measures, such as the oversized flower pots or "safety-cleared art".

Fuse. It must have been PST and NSM who themselves contacted Bergen School of Architecture (BAS) with a request for a possible collaboration and exchange of subjects. The initiative resulted in a series of lectures from both public bodies and private actors, and several study trips to Europe and the Middle East. This culminated in a master-level course with the name City Secure. The book The City Between Freedom and Security reflects a number of areas covered during the course. All contributors agree that in an open democracy there must be a good balance between freedom for the individual and security for the people.

The parties also emphasize that they have given each other room to design their paragraphs at their discretion, and have not wanted to influence each other's conclusions. The aim of the book is to strengthen communication and information between the two fields, and a basis for further discussion. This seems to have worked well for both parties. Then it may also be that there is a slight feeling that the measure may also have been initiated to disprove some views on the authorities' closed doors. I find it interesting to know how border crossings, government buildings, embassies, city walls, underground stations, memorials, sports arenas, housing estates and museums have been secured or can be secured in the future.

Visible security. We have all known the fear of terror on both home and away ground following the terrorist attacks here at home on July 22, 2011. We had barely made it across New York, London, Madrid and Mumbai before tapping in with reports of new bomb attacks worldwide. Now we are suddenly living in a time where security has become an international responsibility that is no longer about local laws and officials, but about a collaboration that extends its roots far into adjacent sectors: everything from residents, behavior analysts and risk experts to politicians, architects and city ​​planners. Now, your father is almost as big or small no matter where you are. The airport, the subway, the mall, the amusement park, the town hall square, the football game, the nightclub or the French bakery on the corner. The question some of the authors in the book ask is how we can solve this challenge in a way that still preserves the individual's right to move freely in the city, without being afraid of what might happen. There are obviously different methods for securing a city. You can aesthetize the safety measures, like the aforementioned flower pots or have "safety cleared art". You can hide the measures, like the example of the underground reinforcement plates. Or you can simply put it right in the crowd on the population with surveillance cameras from every corner, armed guards and enemy fences, such as at the US Embassy in Oslo. In fact, a girlfriend had to sell her apartment around the corner for hundreds of thousands of dollars under tariff because the few dared to live there anymore. Visible security apparently makes people unsafe.

Visible security apparently makes people unsafe.

Alienation. Now it looks like we're about to do the same mistake again with the government quarter. From the plans released on September 27 this year, this may seem to be just an example of imbalance between function, budgets, material resilience and design; not to mention well-being. It seems somewhat incomprehensible to me that the team behind the planning of the quarter has not consulted the editors behind the book; it is, after all, the result of massive research on the subject. Statsbygg, Forsvarsbygg and Team Urbis are recommended to read this before they start. It provides many examples of how securing urbanized areas in a new reality with new threats can alienate the population and create architectural neuroses. For my own account, I believe that these neuroses can, in the long run, cause short-grown ex-students to pack the snippets and go home to Snåsa. In the end, only bureaucrats, politicians and security forces are left. After all, they can enjoy themselves in a cafe overlooking the government quarter. I liked the forest cherry trees on the planning drawings from Team Urbis. They looked so safe in a way.
Marstrander is a freelance writer.

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