Briefing prison design in a risk-averse environment

Mr Kavan Applegate1
1University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom,

The pursuit of rehabilitation in a corrections environment poses numerous challenges and, for the architect, many competing requirements must be balanced as the design of a prison goes from a blank sheet of paper to a fully-fledged and signed-off prison design. But within operational requirements, security assessments, environmental analyses, engineering coordination, and fit-for-purpose legalese comes a risk-averse mentality that for correctional designers requires the management of reward against risk. Often, the aspirational briefing for rehabilitation may be tainted or subverted through compressed timeframes, fears around contractual defaults and risk-avoidance strategies, especially in the Public Private Partnership delivery model. So, how might we change the briefing process and assign the risk to the most appropriate party? Or should we simply decide that rehabilitative design is so important that a particular risk is worth taking?


Kavan Applegate, Director of Guymer Bailey Architects, has been working on secure facility architecture for at least 20 years. Joining Guymer Bailey Architects’ Brisbane studio in 1995, he moved south and started the Melbourne studio in 2000, and has led the briefing, design, documentation, and delivery of dozens of secure buildings and entire facilities throughout Australia. Jointly leading a team of 50 architects and landscape architects, Kavan is passionate about the rehabilitative effects of architecture and the importance of creating normalised secure environments.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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