grands-marais prison – orbe

Designing a prison today is about finding the best balance between a very secure building and an environment conducive to the future reintegration of a person serving a custodial sentence.

The North Vaudois prison centre is located in the heart of an agricultural landscape. The plain, formerly a marsh, and traces of this past can be read in the network of canals that surround and structure the site. The new Grands-Marais prison is located in this sector made up of three already existing prison buildings. The new volume fits naturally into the geometry of the latter. An entry / exit threshold, facing the car park, connects the new facility to the site.

The architecture is structured in such a way as to promote the links and the re-socialization of the detained persons while attenuating the effect of the deprivation of liberty. The intention is therefore to create an environment akin to ordinary living conditions.

Each unit offers common living spaces facing the bedrooms. The different orientations of these two programmes offer different views. The rooms have a view towards the fields and the distance while the common areas and the workshops have a view on a landscaped courtyard.

The courtyards are made up of diverse elements that recall life outside, in order to stimulate the senses and the imagination. A mixture of meadow, rock, sand, trees and vegetable gardens could compose these spaces in a fluid form.

Each of the six divisions is organized around a rectangular interior courtyard. On the outer side we find the actual units while the other three sides host the workshops specific to each division. This arrangement brings all of the workshops as close as possible to the cell areas. This system has the advantage of being flexible over time given its central position.

The simple geometry of the establishment allows excellent visibility of all spaces at all times, without dead ends. The challenge is to offer a system that optimizes the possibilities of escape for staff while rationalizing exits in order to avoid escapes of the detainees. The typology in units contiguous to each other systematically offers these two directions of escape.

The design of the building consists of a single, compact and rational block encompassing the entire prison space programme.

The technical network follows the logic of the central artery punctuated by the premises specific to each division. These premises are superimposed to ensure a rational distribution to each unit.

The level of the ground floor of the building corresponds to the maximum flood level, in order to ensure the sustainability of the building.

A set of gentle slopes ensures minimum ground movement while ensuring an effective relationship between the building and the outside.

The outdoor facilities evoke a moment of relaxation and distraction, while being secured.

The sports and walking areas are located directly in front of each division, thus avoiding unwanted visual contact.

The walks are taken in the courtyards, promoting meditation and silence, and the basketball / volleyball courts are located on the exterior side. The latter have the advantage of being used simultaneously by two units of the same division.

As for the football field, it is designed at the end of the plot so as not to be in plain sight, whether by other prisoners, staff or external people. Another area allows for exercising in the open air and a vegetable garden is placed near division 3.

Finally, an entrance park faces the administrative and personnel quarters.

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