New Horizon in prisons in “Carcelariamente”

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New Horizon in prisons in “Carcelariamente”


Architect PhD .


A jail was then a sinister place

In the late 70s, the existing prison architecture in Spain reflected an archaic prison system , where punishment and not rehabilitation determined the inmate’s life in prison. Throughout the country by the panoptic ancient thick walls of masonry , as almost unique extended prison model .

It was in the early 80s when the Ministry of Public Works, through its Department of Architecture , signed a research agreement with the Ministry of Justice to propose new prison in line architectures with the articles of the new Constitution of 1978 which sets aims ” to ensure that custodial sentences will be oriented toward social reintegration and rehabilitation .”

It happened that by 1985 , three architects were recent graduates was called to develop ideas and develop proposals capable of innovating the anachronistic model prison in use. Each of the young architects Emilio Tuñón, Javier Maroto and Blanca Lleó – we should establish and lead a team of reviewers.


Design of new prisons

Thus a handful of professionals under 25 years , grouped into three teams , worked hard for a few months under the supervision of Manuel de las Casas , Professor of Architectural Design and ADG Architecture- reflecting and discussing solutions aimed at establish a new institutional model to reflect , also through its prisons , the increasingly consolidated Spanish democracy. These works established over 20 years ago, the general design principles on which even the new prisons that have since been built in Spain are based .

These principles essentially trying to dignify prison activity based on the respect and protection of the individual and therefore improving physical and regulatory framework of seclusion . Facing massive inhuman and concentration laid panoptic architecture , proposed in a composition independent and self pavilions, a fragmented organization for everyday life in human groups of no more than 50 individual cells. The pre-democratic prisons not only deprived of freedom to prisoners , also stripped them of all physical and intellectual activity vital to their reintegration . The new prisons have all kinds of services and civic activities for the development of people .

After a few months finished the first part of our work and so are the preliminary inquiries were specifying it in conducting three initial prototypes jail : Alhaurin de la Torre, Algeciras and Jaen. Each team would conduct its respective executive project and construction management . To us the performance we corresponded New Penitentiary Jaén, located 10 km from the city in an environment of ancient olive trees.


Horizon visually free of obstacles for prisoners

I remember we put special emphasis on prison premises do a sort of small fortified city, where all units were to enjoy both the privileged southern natural light and the views of the magnificent wooded setting . To do this, it seemed essential that the lattice is not vertically but horizontally , to avoid the permanent presence of bars crucifying the perspective of olive groves , inmates could enjoy the infinite horizon unimpeded . So thanks to this trick , the deprivation of liberty was relief, behind bars , through sight. We did a small prototype to finish convincing prisons that security was not impaired and was finally adopted as a general solution throughout. It was the first time that this small change was achieved , to great effect for the perception from inside confined .


Ensure the physical safety of prison officers

Another effort in the development of the project focused on ensuring the physical safety of prison officers on site. This entire structure of steps , galleries and pavilions should have dual circulation at all times to maintain the separation and independence that would prevent the taking of hostages and to ensure monitoring a limited number of troops . This circumstance led to greater height spaces and light, transparent spaces and broad prospects in all directions , in a new modern abstract spatial condition opposed to the old claustrophobic closeness .

It was also an opportunity to rationalize the implementation with modern building systems . Thus, for example , was mounted ” on site ” a system of prefabricated concrete panels to resolve the division between cells. Also, to speed production and improve the quality of the elements, the metalwork shop was drawn from standardized measures , each hole was a single piece comprising a metal recercado ( that solved jambs, flashings and landing ) with his carpentry and trellis, all steel assembled and lacquered. The almost 25,000 m2 were built primarily with four materials : brick , glass, concrete and steel.


The architecture favored a new mentality

When the new Penitentiary Jaén was finished in 1990, senior officials of the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Justice and prison officers and other workers who attended the opening commented that there had been a material positive transformation in the new building another atmosphere , closer to more and less old school dungeon breathed . There had been a change in the hardware that was to bring in the near future a change in the mentality and lifestyle of users, both inmates and employees at the center .

It’s been 25 years and many changes have occurred in Spain and the world , our environment is now active and protagonist of a globalized , complex and multicultural society. As the century draws a horizon needs and new solutions to the challenge of uncertainty and profound changes in social structures , we must carry out , as was done in the mid- eighties, a new reflection and debate about the model current prison . Only from the rigorous analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of existing solutions , as well as from the search for improvements and updates to its architectural principles , we can successfully tackle the challenges of success lies ahead .

  • Carcelariamente Blanca Lleó 01