A prison in the Pacific

Thursday 14 Mar 2013

Spanish architects win [AC-CA] Architectural Competition with ocean prison design

The Spanish design team Taller de Casquería have won first prize in an architectural competition with their proposal for an ocean platform prison in the Pacific Ocean. The brief for the single stage [AC-CA] Architectural Competition was to design a new prison floating approximately 20km to 30km from an Asian, Australian or American coast, and for the architects to use an oil platform as a reference structure.

Described by the judges as an ‘exceptionally well composed and sophisticated project’, the winning [PACIFIC] Ocean Platform Prison design by Taller de Casquería contains several towers or ‘fingers’ to give the look of an ‘uplifted’ island. The complex is constructed using concrete, which gives the building a monolithic feeling

Speaking on the decision to award the team first prize, the judges said: “This ‘social introversion’ of the prison community is balanced by the background presence of the sea and horizon - an interesting choice, considering the standards: closed towards inside, no visual relations between cells and the sea and sky as single outside references. Judges believe this proposal deserves the 1st prize not only because it gives the best answer, but also because it asks the right ones back.”

The second prize went to Lithuanian architects Kristijonas Skirmantas, Povilas Zakauskas and Tomas Vaiciulis for their stainless steel and glass ‘Buoy Prison’ design. Consisting of three main parts - a structural ring, rectangular modules and bearing columns - the use of the removable modules of the building means they can be easily replaced or new columns added. The natural wave energy has also been used as a source of electricity by using a BUOY system which uses the rise and fall of ocean swells to drive hydraulic pumps.

Commenting on the design, the judges remarked: “The proposal is visually precarious in the use of a top hung support system for the prison enclosure. Its appeal lies in its permeability and appearance of openness and transparency that communicates a ‘lightness’ in character, a strong move away from the solid wall/object.”

Argentinean architects Ariel Hakel, Tomas Sanchez and Miguel Minond were awarded third prize in the competition for their ‘Atoll Prison’ project. Referencing the prison’s oceanic setting, the ring-shaped design was inspired by circular coral reefs, with spaces being provided within the design for the farming of fish and algae for food and the generation of the electricity through wave power. The building has been designed to be as sustainable as possible with the inclusion of green rooftops which would allow supplies to be grown for staff and inmates.

As well as the announcement of the three winners on 8 March by [AC-CA], with the first prize team winning €2,700 ($3,500), there were also seven honourable mentions. [AC-CA] is an international architectural competition organisation which focuses on initiating progressive competitions, with other recent competitions including the [RIO DE JANEIRO] Symbolic World Cup Structure.

Naomi Wilcock
Editorial Assistant

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