Prison Spaces for Rehabilitation: Contemporary Applications

Mrs Friederika Hackler1

1Swinburne University Of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia

This study explores prison spaces in the state of Victoria, Australia, examining whether they are designed with sufficient preliminary research or with a specific focus on rehabilitation. It is suggested that simply focusing on security and basic infrastructure, with little commitment to understanding the user needs has been resulting in a problematic result for the Victorian population rates. The design outcomes have been generally sterile spaces, limited to poorly vegetated garden beds, sports and recreation areas, concrete seats, and paths. Finally, spaces can be of great value for rehabilitation practices (e.g. healing gardens) and may represent important outcomes in prisoner’s rehabilitation outcomes.

This research investigates and position Victorian active prison spaces and their evolution, attempting to understand whether the changes are random consequences of unplanned factors (e.g. increase of prison population, accidents, riots, an unintentional reflex of events’ mitigation); or if there is intentional design research behind the current results. By combining interview data with architects, spatial syntax methodology and studies investigating levels of anxiety and sick calls the research will investigate how correlations can inform future prison design.


Friederika completed a Bachelor of Architecture and Urban Planning from the Federal University of Bahia; a Master of Design from the Swinburne University of Technology, and is currently a Ph.D. student. Her interests include psychology factors determined by the architectural spaces, and her current research focus is on the prison environment.


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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