Recycle the prisoners

Fie Vandamme has designed a visionary prison model in an adapted urban environment. The model was drawn up after consultations were held with various users of prisons, namely prisoners, directors and staff. In accordance with the Belgian Prison Act of 2005 (Basiswet) the design allows the prisoners opportunities for development in as far as this is possible without compromising security.

The present study shows a visionary prison model in which the deprivation of freedom is not synonymous with being deprived of one’s dignity as a human being. The design study explores how to humanise prison architecture and surroundings. The human principle and vision behind the Belgian Prison Act of 2005 (Basiswet) is the starting point for the design.


Prison space as we currently know it in Belgium is a pure, formal interpretation of a functional plan, such as the so-called humane prison in Beveren, which is based on the 19th century Ducpétiaux model. The prisoner remains a pure abstraction within such a design process. The question is how can a humane prison be conceivable if the people using it have no say in the design process?


The key to a humane prison lies in the prisoner’s approach to his or her material existence. An intelligent design transcends functional government specifications and the myths that circulate in the popular imagination. Once prisoners have been defined as people with human longings and needs, it is no longer impossible to design a humane living environment for them.




See pdf, for complete study


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