Conversion of correctional institution to open prison_a sociospatial approach.


10DEC 2015
# TITLE: Conversion of correctional institution to open prison_a sociospatial approach.
# STUDENTS: Agathi Kovani
# SUPERVISOR: Charikleia Pantelidou
# DATE: 2014
# COURSE: Diploma Thesis
# SCHOOL / DEPARTMENT: Academy of Fine Arts and Design / Department of Interior Architecture, Decoration and Product Design



The study is part of the conversion of an existing correctional institution to an open prison. The way it can enliven an inanimate object, such as the prison building, and give life and well-being to its users. This building was selected because of its structure, as it gives greater freedom in new configuration of open prison. The distribution of outdoor space in yards enhances the individuality of the prisoners preparing them for reintegration into society. The aim is the interaction and communication between the micro-society of inmates and the broader society outside the prison. The layout and organization of the building promotes coexistence and cohabitation among people, of different personalities, ages etc. The philosophy is therefore to address the issue in parallel by three viewpoints. The one is to see it from the side of the prisoner, whose human dignity needs to be respected in any democratic system, as stated besides to constitution. The second is from the perspective of staff working inside the prison, and whose work and working conditions can be improved, and the third is from the perspective of society outside prison. The society outside prison is defined both by relatives and acquaintances of prisoners who visit the area and it is important that the whole process is encouraging the maintenance of their relationships with inmates. Moreover, from the rest of the community, which through contact and interaction with the inmates tends to destigmatize the marginal nature and integrate them smoothly into it after the release.

02_Geographical location and current situation

The existing closed prison located in Aschaffenburg of Germany and operates since 1970. It consists of a strict square grid with four (4) interior courtyards and parametrically of these are oblong wings which house mainly the cells and other individual functions.

03_Exploring the design style

The aim of the study is to create an open prison with a simple design that exudes calm and help both to the individual concentration and socialization. The changes that are made concern the interior of the central part of the building installation and the configuration of outdoor spaces. The style and furnishing of each space internally and externally in the courtyards, is simple and timeless, with a focus on urban qualities, which acts as a link for the reintegration into normal life. Furthermore, flexibility in the design is given in great extent in order be determined by the users themselves. The proposed layout aims at freedom in traffic flow both on the horizontal axis, with the creation of open space areas, and on the vertical, with the addition of an elevator and ramp for one of the courtyards, for the best possible wheelchair access. In the existing building there are oblong corridors that strengthen the institutional goal. Dynamic diagonals which soften this orthogonal grid are inserted at some places to deal with this problem. Finally, various functions are added for the development of the prisoner`s capabilities such as the space of the library, the laboratories, second chance school, etc., in ways of encouraging creativity and activate the interaction time between the community within prison and society outside of it.

04_Building program

The main building considered of three levels. Level 1 (floor 1), in which one enters the main entrance is at +1,05m from the ground line and is considered a living room area. It is proposed a type of collective living model, where the organization of spaces is done with the central installation of public spaces and the peripheral organization of more private spaces. Level 2 (floor -1) is formed as a night zone and consists exclusively of organizing private habitation modules, a dispensary for first aid and the wardrobe and linens space. In between of these two levels is the level of courtyards. The basement level 3 (floor -2) includes the current situation storage areas and the mechanical installations, so there was no intervention at this level and it was considered to have remained unchanged.


The implementation of open prisons has actively demonstrated the high efficiency in reducing crime. But, as it is reasonable, these various systems applied have to be adapted to the reality of each culture of diverse societies. The building environment certainly plays an important role in achieving the objectives of an open prison, however cannot by itself ensure success. It needs to function in conjunction with management, the staff, the functions and activities and the support of the wider society. The building can only hinder or help, but not to fix. The aim therefore is the smooth integration of prisoners into the society after their release and the destigmatization of their character, by developing spaces with a number of potential activities that allow socializing among inmates but also with the wider community.