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National Level Architectural Design Idea for Jails | Competition

Year         2020

Status     Proposal

A prison, commonly viewed as a correctional institution, is often found to lack a humane approach towards its functional interpretation and design philosophy. In terms of function, it is considered to be a place where one is punished for his or her inappropriate actions in the past.

While the main intention of a prison is to curb unethical activities and practices in society by means of confinement, the place of confinement need not be in an uncomfortable and inhumane environment. Instead, it may be more effective to think of a prison as a place that nurtures human values, self-realisation and transformation – a place that tackles the root cause of crime in society. 

The fundamental aim is to provide a place with opportunities to unlearn old patterns and habits while learning new ones aids physical well-being and emotional healing to bring a positive outlook towards life.

The design philosophy revolves around the following aims:

A. Replacing punishment with Supportive/Preventive Discipline

A controlled and regulated campus without giving a sense of confinement to ensure a conflict-free environment


B. Isolating from society for

Reflection and Contemplation

An opportunity to reflect on past actions, mistakes and experiences to establishing a foundation for change


C. Preventing future crime through inculcation of Social Values

Creating a community living experience through interpersonal support and empathy


D. Rehabilitation through Self-transformation

Facilitating transformation through workshops for skill development and sports activities

The site plan amalgamates conventional prison types to create an integrated campus plan. The main buildings housing the inmates are lined along three main axes converging towards the central administrative building along with other common facilities. The central court space acts like a doorway to all the spines of the living units. The doors are secured for one to allow to certain spines in specific allotted schedules. This also acts as a central tower to keep constant surveillance.

The prison is imagined as a place to ‘unlearn’ and ‘learn’ and achieve inner transformation. The design strategy for the living units of the inmates therefore takes strong inspiration from the learning institutes of ancient India where students or monks spent time away from societal obligations to acquire deep knowledge, skills and a path towards self-realisation and inner transformation.

The approach was to look at the design as an amalgamation of typologies to provide a habitable and resourceful space for the prisoners as well as for the people of the society. Apart from a healthy and positive environment for the prisoners, the complex also focuses on developing good staff and inmate relationships by providing areas for discussions and gatherings. 

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