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Impression
Impression

Ground floor plan 1 outdoor sports 2 indoor sports 3 work 4 education 5 central square 6 activities 7 services 8 goods 9 visits 10 detainees’ entrance 11 staff and visitors’ entrance
Ground floor plan 1 outdoor sports 2 indoor sports 3 work 4 education 5 central square 6 activities 7 services 8 goods 9 visits 10 detainees’ entrance 11 staff and visitors’ entrance

Dutch Prisons – a timeline. Building & demolishing in the history of Dutch prison building.
Dutch Prisons – a timeline. Building & demolishing in the history of Dutch prison building.

Prison Types – a timeline. A number of striking trends can be observed in the history of Dutch prison building. 1 solitary confinement 2 direct monitoring 3 lookalike housing 4 extension of facilities, embedding in cities 5 efficiency 6 ideal prison
Prison Types – a timeline. A number of striking trends can be observed in the history of Dutch prison building. 1 solitary confinement 2 direct monitoring 3 lookalike housing 4 extension of facilities, embedding in cities 5 efficiency 6 ideal prison

Visiting room
Visiting room

Work cluster
Work cluster

Library
Library

Group living unit
Group living unit




PROJECTINDEX
 
THE IDEAL PRISON
Rotterdamse Academie van Bouwkunst
ARCHITECTURE

Design for a resocialization-based prison where humanization and security proceed in tandem.
The design steps off from the current brief of the Netherlands Ministry of Justice, namely that a prison is a closed institution. However, this strict requirement should not be an excuse to create an inhumane building. Within these parameters this project constructs a living environment that emanates the greatest possible sense of normalization. Detainees must be able to lead a life comparable to that outside the prison.
The design for a prison based on resocialization is an answer to the question of how to give detainees the healthiest possible environment without forfeiting the detention aspect. This could be construed as a contradiction. The Ideal Prison is the result of achieving a balance between two poles, security and humanization. On one hand, the building contains the practical elements needed for detention purposes and for guaranteeing the safety of the staff and of the individual detainees. On the other hand, there are elements that ensure the detainees a healthy environment and prepare them as well as possible for their return into society.
This prison is designed as a seemingly unrelated assemblage of volumes of different dimensions and heights, comparable to the urban fabric of a town or city. A number of courtyards of varying dimensions and content provide the buildings with agreeable views and sufficient daylight. Each courtyard is surrounded by indoor spaces serving one or other end. For example, there is a work cluster and an activities cluster. The courtyards are interconnected in a network of outdoor spaces where detainees can take their exercise in the open air.
Besides the humane aspect, the network of patios works as a super-efficient monitoring mechanism. In the event of a disaster, the courtyards can be closed off individually, a central monitoring ‘loop’ allowing prison officers to be on the spot in the shortest time to restore order and calm. There is this double layer throughout the design. It is a mini-society, benign in appearance but within clear boundaries that guarantee security and surveillance.
The end of the 20th century saw a great many prisons built in the Netherlands with more than 7500 new cells between them. Today we see many prisons closing down and in some cases even being demolished. Yet the present government has plans to build new ones. This remarkable capriciousness in building and demolishing on the prison front is due to changing ideas in society about detention. At a given moment prisons no longer satisfy the prevailing ideas of the day, ideas that oscillate between the two extremes of resocialization and repression.
Dutch prisons are not exactly what you would call humane. They lack sufficient daylight, detainees scarcely ever get out in the open air and the living environment on the whole has an air of bleakness about it. Physical conditions inside the prison can be described as supremely unhealthy. All past attempts to build resocialization-based prisons have failed miserably. The most notorious example is that of Bijlmerbajes in Amsterdam. This vast prison complex is particularly devoid of diversity and the small-scale, factors that can be of positive influence on the living environment of detainees.