- Showing 1 posts filed under: Diversion [–] published between Mar 01, 2010 and Mar 31, 2010 [Show all]
Prisons in the sky
by Dan Van Ness
One of the persistent themes in penology has been the idea that architecture can help produce transformation in people. From the monastery-like isolation of prisoners in the Walnut Street Jail and its successor the Eastern State Penitentiary in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries to the Auburn model allowing for aggregate work but individual isolation, to Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, to today's Supermax prisons, form has indeed followed function.
Now eVolo magazine has awarded first place in its 2010 Skyscraper Competition to Malaysian architectural students for their Vertical Prison, conceived of as somehow floating high above the ground with elevator pods transporting prisoners, staff, food and so forth between the prison and earth.
Prisoners would work in farms to supply earth with organic products. Those who behaved well would be given cells with windows pointed to the earth so they would be motivated to reform themselves.
The naivete of the design (the prison floats without support in the sky) and reform strategy (the architecture students do not appear to have researched the history of prisons) is remarkable, as is that of the judges of the competition.