Rethinking the prison for an urban environment

A graduate architecture student challenges the way we think about prisons, both in design and program.
Written by Beth Carter, Contributing Editor

Design has been used to challenge the current concept of a prison before. In fact, design has separated the prisons that are successful from the ones that aren't. A new concept from Penn graduate architecture student Greg Knobloch seeks to challenge preconceived notions of what it is to build a prison.

A collaborative project, 499.summit proposes a simple design concept: a prison built for an urban environment.

The structural design contains three towers in the shape of an arch.  The arches converge to form Knobloch's circulatory concept. Within the arches there three phases: incarceration (up), transformation (over), and integration (down).  They are isolated at the bottom during the incarceration phase and merge together during the integration phase.

Just the like arches, the inmates are more secluded during this incarceration phase, and when the integration phase happens, the arches merge in their program as well as in their structure.

Public program as well as residential housing units are introduced in the downward side of the integration phase. In other words, the inmate moves throughout the building according to their behavior. The design imagines the inmates graduating through the facility, with inmates slowly exposed to more social interaction in hopes of a smoother reintegration into society.

Would you want one of these in your town? Even if you don't, it is interesting to think about our ideas of what a prison is supposed to look like,  and what design can do to change and better our current systems.

More photos of the renderings:

Images: Greg Knobloch

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards