De-institutionalising prison design: insights from user-experience designers and architects about creating restorative spaces in prison.

Ms Abigail Wild1

1Monash University, Clayton, Australia

This paper explores how we might think about creating restorative spaces in prison by bringing together prisoners’ accounts of their favourite places in prison and insights from design architects, landscape architects and user-experience designers. With reference to restorative environment research and the growing body of work in ‘carceral geography’ this research builds on the work of scholars attentive to how social relations and well-being may connect to elements of architecture and design. Interviews revealed a correspondence between the places prisoners sought or created to cope with confinement and the characteristics of restorative environments described in environmental psychology. The interviewees also described the scarcity of restorative resources in prison, their difficulty in finding restorative niches and pointed to the social context of restoration. The paper considers these challenges and presents creative possibilities, in dialogue with design professionals across a number of industries in the US and Australia, from theme park design to correctional architecture.


Biography:

Abby Wild is a research fellow at BehaviourWorks Australia in the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, where she works on a variety of projects, mainly in the environmental sector. Prior to working with BWA, Abby served in a number of research, teaching and consulting roles. This includes designing and teaching courses in the fields of psychology and criminology at Cambridge University, conducting behavioural research with cotton-top tamarins at Harvard’s Cognitive Evolution Lab and serving on the board of a venture capital firm.

Abby has an undergraduate degree in history and science from Harvard (USA). She obtained an M.Phil. in Criminological Research at Cambridge University (UK) and returned to Cambridge on a Gates Scholarship for her PhD, which she is currently completing. Her doctoral research is a study of three residential therapeutic programs in US prisons which analyses the key elements for fostering positive social environments in prisons.

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