Ensuring Respect For Human Dignity
Riccardo Miccoli & Maria Vittoria Monaco
The purpose of this thesis is the design of a new pavilion of sociality inside Verziano’s penitentiary (Brescia, Italy). A space capable of hosting the daily activities of prisoners related to consumption and collective meal preparation, also allowing to accommodate specific events such as training courses, workshops and gastronomic dinners.
The entire research work deals with the issue of social spaces related to food in prisons. The reason for this choice is motivated by the fact that food is seen as a strong socialization factor, both inside and outside prison. In a detention environment, where decisional power of inmates subject is suspended, the food becomes an opportunity to personally manage their own needs.
The project not only defines a new inner space, but also intends to work on the green areas of the structure: the concrete perimeter wall, the main physical and visual limit, circumscribes a new outdoor path that connects a horticulture area, the sports and the affection areas.
The architectural reasons that led us to deal with this issue, concern the afflictive spaces of imprisonment, which in some cases do not ensure respect for human dignity. The lack of places for socializing, for the sport and for the affection with their families, increasing the gap between the inmates and the outside community.
It is necessary to work on the detention spaces, ensuring living conditions conforming to human rights.
We believe that architecture can provide a form to this need: an architecture that, although recluse within a detention space, is able to open up and to communicate with the external society!
Who influences you graphically?
During our studies at university, we have always tried to experiment with different models of representation, from photorealistic render to monochromatic graphics . Two years ago we had the opportunity to take part in Pier Vittorio Aureli’s lecture and to deepen his work. We believe that simplification of the graphic representation is essential for a proper communication of the project. For this reason, the works of Dogma or those of Kersten Geers are always interesting references.
How does the choice of graphic language relate to the proposal?
To realize this research work and submit a new project to the prison, we have visited the building for several months, cooperating with different volontary assosiations that work with inmates: our real “clients” let’s say.
We have involved the detainees in our creativity process, interviewing them and bringing study models and photomontages. We realized that it was necessary to use an easy-to-read graphic language to better communicate our work.
In this regard, the collage has been very helpful.
What is the effect and purpose of a white frame?
The decision to adopt a white frame around the representations simply allows you to emphasize the attention paid to the project, view after view.
What dictated the choice of means of representation through which you reveal your proposal?
We have been taken the decision of adopting the axonometric view to represent the entire structure and our intervention on the structure for several reasons.
First of all the inmates are used to having a restricted view of the world around them, limited by concrete perimeter walls. The axonometric view instead, allowed both prisoners and the administration of the prison, to see with different eyes the spaces where they live.
The second reason concerns a consideration that impressed us: for bureaucracy and safety reasons, during our research the prison has never provided us the drawings of the structure. This is absurd if you think that you can get satellite images of the entire area from the internet!
Realizing a digital model was so the only way to understand and reconstruct the structure step by step.
How important and useful was the physical model?
The three dimensional model has been essential to our work. During the months of research we have produced several study models, which helped us to show and explain our idea inside the prison. Especially for the design of the open spaces, it was very useful to have a physical model because it allowed the inmates to interact with the project and to offer some interesting solutions. We can say that the construction of the digital model has been a fundamental exercise that allowed us to know the structure in its entirely while the physical model helped us to interact with the inmates and the administration and to elaborate a project proposal shared and strongly supported by both sides