Redefining the prison : transitioning back to society

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McSweeney, George
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Kaza, Krystina
Turner, David
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Glen Eden (Auckland, N.Z.)
New Zealand
Waikumete Road (Glen Eden, N.Z.)
correctional facilities
rehabilitation centre design
male prisoners
bicultural design
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
McSweeney, G. (2018). Redefining the prison : transitioning back to society. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
RESEARCH QUESTION: How can the current New Zealand architectural prison typology evolve to facilitate the rehabilitation of prisoners by creating an open/closed community integrated prison to support reintegration? New Zealand is currently witnessing incarceration rates at recordbreaking numbers. There is a need to accommodate the growing prison population, which has led to significant levels of overcrowding. The current New Zealand prison system relies on traditional architectural techniques, many of which originated in the late 19th century and involved large scale prisons, often located at a distance from urban centres and communities. These prisons were and still are organised around high levels of surveillance and control, rather than concentrating on rehabilitation. Aspects of traditional typologies do not provide significant rehabilitation to support the transition of prisoners back into their communities at the end of their sentences. There is also limited support for prisoners to aid their transitions back to their communities. My aim in this design project was to develop a new architectural typology for prisons that could facilitate the reintegration of prisoners into mainstream society within New Zealand. This new typology would respond to the critical issues of overcrowding and lack of rehabilitation opportunities. It uses architectural spaces to provide the inmates with real-world experiences, for instance job training, education, community contribution, recreation and normal living environments, which could help them reintegrate into society. This is based on the development of open/closed detention centre satellite nodes located within the fabric of established town/city centres, which might integrate prisoners back into their familiar environments. Ultimately, this new design will advance prison typologies, eventually eliminating large scale, control-focused facilities, and could reduce public anxiety about the criminal justice system.
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