Co-designing Intensive Learning Centres for NSW Maximum Security Prison

29 May



On the 2nd April a new Intensive Learning Centre facility was opened at Mid North Coast Correctional Centre that is the result of a unique collaboration between Corrective Services NSW and the Designing Out Crime research centre at the University of Technology, Sydney. The collaborative project was to design and construct a learning centre for 40 inmates that would operate under a therapeutic model within the context of NSW maximum security prison. The brief challenged designers to create a prefabricated and furnished design model which was secure, offered a 21century learning environment, inspired integration and rehabilitation and could be fabricated by inmates in Corrective Services Industries vocational training programs. The project followed a unique process of co-design and consultation with inmates, teachers, correctional centre management staff, and senior managers in CSNSW.  This process realized a facility with the following features:

  • Architecture and materials to create an aesthetic and functionality consistent with co-operative relationships between educators and students, enabling a capacity for problem solving, creativity and social interaction required in modern work environments.
  • A flexible model of classroom design to support dynamic learning that is scalable for differing audiences and activities.
  • Integrated technology to support education delivery and dynamic learning opportunities including smart boards, laptops and audio-visual equipment.
  • Designation and design of spaces to support Aboriginal learning styles and cross cultural discussion.
  • Designed-in capacity for customisation such as interchangeable art panels that allow each cohort to build ownership and establish connection with the environment.
  • Interlinked indoor and outdoor spaces that create a unique sense of community and connectedness in the correctional environment.
  • A secure facility that embeds all the standard security features while creating a safe environment through the use of an open-plan community aesthetic.

The Designing Out Crime team is currently undertaking a post occupancy evaluation to assess the performance of the design and Tasman Munro is undertaking a PhD looking at the design’s  impact on interaction within the space.

Tasman Munro – Industrial designer                  Kevin Bradley – Architect

Rohan Lulham – Psychologist                               Douglas Tomkin – Designer

Lucy Klippin – Designer                                         Jessica Wong – Designer





Contemporary Prison Environments for Aboriginal Prisoners

3 Apr

Contemporary prison environments


Dr Elizabeth Grant, Senior Lecturer, The University of Adelaide

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education: Wilto Yerlo

Centre for Housing and Regional and Urban Planning



The issues of incarcerating Aboriginal peoples have been a matter of contention for prison administrations since colonisation. This presentation presents an overview of the types of places in which Aboriginal people have been imprisoned and how inquiries and people-environments research such as evidence based research and user consultation has influenced the design of contemporary prison environments. The paper will present current trends and examples of prison environments designed for Aboriginal people.

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Dignity by Design: the Coffs Harbour Justice Precinct

3 Apr


Diane Jones


Adjunct Professor UNSW Built Environment and Director PTW Architects


The proposed Coffs Harbour Justice Precinct will provide a new court house, police station, shared custody wing and public forecourt for the Coffs Harbour region. This paper examines
how the design works to integrate the findings of the recent ARC Linkage projects coordinated by the Justice Research Group. Further, the spatial and architectural qualities can actively give those using the court house a sense of dignity in the face of demands for security and standardization.

A prefabricated space for 21st century learning in maximum security prisons

3 Apr


Fiona McGregor, Kevin Bradley, Tasman Munro, Lucy Klippan, Douglas Tomkin and Rohan Lulham

In August 2012 the Designing Out Crime Research Centre was provided with a brief for the establishment of two new Intensive Learning Centres in maximum security prisons in NSW. The brief provided a new frame for considering an educational centre in a maximum security prison. Rather than being described as a secure educational environment for remedial learning, it was framed as a 21st Century learning environment with core values of citizenship, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and other key qualities consistent with obtaining employment and maintaining a life outside the justice system. To be built by NSW Corrective Service Industries (CSI) as prefabricated units and transported to the prison sites, DOC was engaged to bring together a design team to work with ILC and CSI staff to explore how the intentions for ILC could be materialized in the ILC design. In this presentation the design team will reflect and present on the genesis of the ILC program brief, its articulation into design intentions through consultation with inmates, staff and the relevant literature, and the design concepts that are currently being specified for the start of construction.

Disciplinary architecture: using prison design to optimise health and safety

3 Apr

disciplinary architecture


Niyi Awofeso


Architectures of control are deliberately or implicitly part and parcel of most prison designs.  Historically, disciplinary architecture has dominated the designs of prisons, in line with the emphasis of prisons on punishment and a narrowly defined version of rehabilitation focussed on penitence.  Recent trends in hospital design indicate the positive impact of health-promoting hospital architecture and art on patients’ health.  Consequently, humanistic and health-promoting architecture increasingly underpin contemporary prison designs in Western nations.  Although no formal evaluation of the impact of prison design on inmates yet is currently available, anecdotal evidence from Sweden, Denmark and Norway indicates that humanistic prison architecture has a positive impact on recidivism as well as the wellbeing of inmates and custodial officers.  The author of this presentation posits that all new prison design policies globally should include health impact assessments on prisoners and the immediate environment, and that prisons which are designed or remodelled with inmates’ health improvement as one of its objectives are more likely to achieve prisons’ holistic rehabilitation and health promoting functions.

Some Niyi’s related work:

Awofeso N. Disciplinary architecture: prison design and prisoners’ health. Hektoen International Journal, 2011; 3: 68-70. []
Awofeso N. Unlocked potential: improving inmates’ health through prison architecture. International Journal of Prisoner Health, 2011; 7: 3 -9.


2 Apr

To kick off the Justice Design Forum we’ve posted the abstracts and related information from the two special sessions on justice environments that were organised as part of the Design + Crime Conference, 12-13 December 2012 at the University of Technology Sydney. Many thanks to the presenters and attendees – don’t hesitate to contact the presenters if you’d like more information