Urban Terrorism: St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City


  • Daniel Tan Woha Architects Pte Ltd




In the wake of the 2015 Paris attacks that claimed 130 lives, and in response to FBI warnings about threats by the Islamic State terrorist group, stringent security measures were pre-emptively imposed on St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City to deter possible attacks. The very nature of exclusion and control brought about by the securitisation corrodes the inherent nature of what the square previously symbolised: a sanctuary where all could enter and be welcome. Using the case of St. Peter’s Square, this work illuminates the three main contradictions between security and architecture apparent in practice today, as a way to understand the role of architecture in contributing to a convivial city under the conditions of terrorism.

Author Biography

Daniel Tan, Woha Architects Pte Ltd

Daniel Tan is based in Singapore, where he works as an architectural designer in internationally renowned firm Woha Architects. Graduating with a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the National University of Singapore, he found his passion in architectural design and theory. His research explores the increasingly intertwined relationship of contemporary warfare with the urban spaces we inhabit, in particular the transformation of these spaces in the presence of warfare. He continues to contribute actively to journals, while establishing himself as a practicing architect in the thriving Singaporean architectural scene.


Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Times (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007).

Nick Squires, ‘Security stepped up at Vatican over fears of terror attack’, The Telegraph, 20 September 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/the-pope/11110644/Security-stepped-up-at-Vatican-over-fears-of-terror-attack.html.