Last June, I posted about an unusual studio led by Will Alsop – a group of prison inmates. The year-long workshop, organized by Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation), was initiated to provoke discussion on the future of prison design, especially in regards to the education and artistic components of the rehabitional system.
“We could do better with our prisoners,” Alsop said, “rehabilitation should start on the first day that they go in.” The inmate-and-architect-designed prison — more follied landscape than panaopticon — features much smaller communal living blocks and places a greater focus on educational facilities. The ideal prison, he says, will give its inhabitants a sense of self-respect and would speed their reintegration into society.
Starting June 8th, the designs will go on display for the first time…in a prison. Winson Green in Birmingham, to be exact. Accompanying the new prison designs will be a film showing the imagined interior, prisoner-designed artwork, and, by artist Shona Illingworth, a video on the current state of prison conditions.
…and for those of you who oppose the very concept of a new prison, no matter how enlightened it may be, there’s the Prison Design Boycott Campaign.