Hostile vehicle mitigation systems don’t have to turn our public spaces into ugly, oppressive, intimidating fortresses, as this one shows … if you can see it.
It’s easy to miss it at first glance but this computer-generated image shows an entrance to Paddington Station with a KarabloK HVM system protecting it.
Planted with flowers and shrubs it actually brings welcome cheer to an otherwise gloomy and strictly functional corner of one of London’s busiest places.
Proven against crashes, blasts and canon fire
Of course, something that is going to stop terrorists using cars and trucks to mow down innocent people in the street is going to be pretty significant.
And, when it comes to its hostile vehicle mitigation role, this precast concrete barrier system – designed by British engineers – has been tried, tested and proven to stop a 7.5 tonne truck travelling at 50mph, as this video shows.
It has also been tested against a range of explosives as well as canon fire and is proven to meet sections of NATO’s exacting STANAG 2280 standard for ballistic, blast and impact barriers.
A softer look for hostile vehicle mitigation
Yet the visual impact of this otherwise imposing precast concrete barrier has simply been transformed to make it look like a bright and cheerful piece of street furniture – the sorts of municipal flower beds seen in towns and cities across the land.
“Living and thriving in the free world is what we’re trying to achieve here but making town and city centres look like war zones does not meet our goals.”
“We’re fighting to preserve our way of life so any hostile vehicle mitigation system that makes ordinary people feel anxious or apprehensive, intimidated or vulnerable, is failing – it’s letting the bad guys win.”
“We need to feel confident and relaxed when we attend public events in parks and stadiums. We should feel at ease when travelling on our transport networks.”
“The KarabloK hostile vehicle mitigation system sets out to protect people in key public places without adding to the tension. It allows us to safely get on with our business as usual.”
“Unlike some systems that look like municipal benches and flower beds and call themselves HVM systems, KarabloK has been tested and shown to be big enough and strong enough to stop big vehicles dead in their tracks. Yet, despite this very serious role, it can easily brighten a place up rather than turn it into a fortress.”
Units can be planted up to soften their impact
The blocks have hollow centres which are fitted with purpose made bags normally filled with ballast. The top few inches of the ballast, however, can be removed so the units can be planted up to soften their impact, using the sorts of flowers and shrubs local authorities routinely grow in tubs and hanging baskets.
Trailing plants can almost completely hide the units but the precast concrete surface also comes in a range of different finishes so when they are visible they blend in with other local buildings.
As the KarabloK system is quick to install – needing no ground fixing or foundations – and just as quick to remove again, it is also ideal for temporary locations, such as festival sites. Here, units could also be painted and decorated to completely tune in with their environment.
“It doesn’t take a lot of effort or imagination to turn a KarabloK barrier, with a very serious function, into something positive and aesthetically pleasing,” added Gareth Neale.
“The bottom line is that these barriers save lives; they shouldn’t spoil them.”