Holmsheidi Prison Competition

The goal of modern day prisons is to re-socialize the inmates and help them deal with their problems, while supporting their individual initiative.
Education and a regulated workflow help create a self-sustaining life inside the prison as much as it is possible in captivity.

The building complex sits deeper inside the landscape creating a natural secured area.
The building blocks are arranged around a campus-like natural landscape environment.
Accessible from the inmate housing blocks these areas includes outdoor gym equipment, tools for gardening and recreation areas.
This connection to the natural environment and the open sky helps remind the residents that their stay is not permanent.

Using the materials found on site the prison blends into the landscape and makes it almost invisible.
A concrete construction with a think insulation (15cm) and a lava stone finish to the exterior walls make the building “hide” inside the landscape.
The roof is made out of corrugated metal in combination with a vegetated green roof (using moss and local vegetation).
This works as a natural, highly efficient insulation for the building.
Landscape areas use local plants and vegetation to reduce irrigation needs and maintenance.
All building blocks can be cross-ventilated and make extensive use of natural light creating a healthy indoor environment.
Through these measures it is possible to meet BREEMA requirements and also help the facility to save money.

Being inspired by the panopticon layout and the idea of one central control point the design focuses on creating a village community.
The radial building structure supports a system of total control.
One central point, where the “Aðalvarðstofa” is located controls the entire prison.
Due to the radial system the employees can look into every corridor of the entire prison.
It is highly organized and in case of electricity failure only a few employees can secure the prison.
This will reduce the running costs while minimizing the staff and enhance user control.
Each block is separated with one entry and exit point.
This organization is extremely flexible to the programmatic floatation of inmates.

The glass triangles underneath the roof are sun and light catchers and direct natural sunlight into the end of the entire corridor.
This not only supports a better visual control from the central point, but also creates a light and modern atmosphere inside the cellblock.
The glass corridor connecting the resident blocks is open and friendly without ignoring safety issues.

All incoming processes are well separated and controlled.
Prisoners, employees, management and visitors have their own secured block system and separated walkways.
The delivery and release process are joined in the front entrance yard.
There is only one entry and exit point to the prison.

Conclusion/ Goal:
The Holmsheidi prison strives for a safe and humane prison system that optimizes all working conditions.
The prison creates a positive environment through its openness.
Reducing running costs and increasing staff control and efficiency, while creating a respectable human atmosphere and encouraging prisoners to re-socialize the outside world is the goal.