West Kimberley Regional Prison by TAG Architects and Iredale Pedersen Hook
Public Architecture: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
This project has re-imagined the role of a prison as a place of refuge and rehabilitation. Although it was designed for the specific requirements of Indigenous Australians, it suggests better ways of dealing with incarceration for all cultures. The design process expanded from a schedule of accommodation to a collaborative process of investigation into the philosophy of incarceration and rehabilitation, where theory informed design, then design informed operations.
Within a secure perimeter, the project has developed clear and logical responses to Indigenous spatial culture and the extreme climate to accommodate functional requirements from the ground up. The design of the buildings provides security without claustrophobia. The architecture aligns the problems of air movement for climate, visual perforation for security, and Indigenous need for open spaces, then solves them simultaneously with open-cornered facilities that only shelter, never trap; only filter, never shut.
The bush-coloured steel pavilions are distributed around a football field, in a boab-dotted landscape. The pavilions are linked through materials and a common language of form. Security is discreet and well integrated, with little semblance to a traditional prison.
The project provokes disturbing questions about the conditions experienced by the Indigenous population on the other side of the security fence.
Read the project review by Elizabeth Grant and Peter Hobbs for Architecture Australia.