Postmodern Prison Architecture | Austria

glass prison02 Postmodern Prison Architecture | Austria

If you believe the conventional widsom that prison sentences are for designed solely for rehabilitation (as opposted to retribution), Austria’s Leoben Justice Centre may very well be the leader in turning lives around. If you believe that those responsible for heinous crimes deserve to suffer in squalor, wretched conditions, however, you might want to stop reading this and go rent a Linda Blair prison movie.

Those of us who’ve toured Alcatraz in San Francisco can imagine the cold, harsh, unfeeling reality facing years of hard time. You committed a crime and now you must pay for it by enduring isolation, bad food, prison fights and being somebody’s bitch for twenty-five to life. If you exhibit good behavior, you might one day see the sun again. But is the system doing you any favors? Is the daily misery of life in the slammer inspiring you to make better, more law abiding choices in the future?

glass prison03 Postmodern Prison Architecture | Austria

glass prison04 Postmodern Prison Architecture | Austria

This glass penitentiary in Steiermark, Austria takes a radically different approach to rehabilitation. Instead of making criminals harder, angrier and more likely to commit future crimes, this Josef Hohensinn-designed structure provides a shiny, happy place to rethink the errors of one’s ways.

Or does it? Why focus on the negative aspects of your past when you can marvel at the sleek design of your cell, which comes with a bed, a desk, a bulletin board, custom ply built-ins and its own TV? What could you possibly have to brawl about with your fellow inmates? Who gets to sit in the green Verner Panton chairs? The cynic in me wonders if this five-star prison would have the opposite effect and actually invite crime. What’s to stop a homeless person from clocking old ladies on the street in order to be “forced” to utilize LJC’s cafeteria, gym, and indoor court with ping-pong?

Not sure if Austria’s got its head on straight. First they give us the Von Trapp family and now this. What’s next?

For more images, click here.

glass prison01 Postmodern Prison Architecture | Austria

glass prison05 Postmodern Prison Architecture | Austria

glass prison06 Postmodern Prison Architecture | Austria

glass prison07 Postmodern Prison Architecture | Austria

  • Clifford

    you know i don't think its going to work… cuz then all i have to do is do something bad to live in an awesome environment for free…but i like the architecture.. to kool… i can see this as a court house.

  • http://www.triedtastedserved omid

    What an awesome idea. Turning some bewildered minds into Creative Monkies.

    Thanks for the post :-)

  • darkill5

    What's stopping them is that the state tries not to have any homeless people at all. The homeless are mostly a problem caused by the political and economical system so if the state works right there won't be any such problems. Or if there are homeless people there will also be homeless shelters. I am sure that they have thought it through more than you.

  • JWQ

    great, now you can rape your doughter all you want and, after 20 years, IF someone finds out, live here in this beautiffull glass house were people actually "believe you can do better"…. i say screw them, guess who's paying for the building and their good life? People that don't commit crimes and pay their taxes!
    but the architecture truly is great!

  • gmonkie

    U.S. prisons suck and look what happens. People who end up in them usually find their way right back inside because they are all about punishing and tossing you into a horrible environment, which does nothing to prepare a person to survive let alone thrive in life. If your a gang member, you end up living with more gang members and having to be harder just to survive. I think the glass prison and a quality environment is a positive step in the right direction.

  • Jack R Thomas

    Subliminal and conscious messages of Solidarity; Silence and Penitence, Isolation, Obedience, Intimidation and Oppression inscribed within – echoed only but a patriarchal conception of psychology; that ‘evil communication corrupts’. Why be consistent with ever failing attempts of a secular justice aimed to reform vice to virtue? Why not try other mediums that study the phenomenology of interior space and its experiential effect on the occupant… Prison architecture is one of the least evaluated, large scale, commercial society serving institutions endeavouring to look for reformative notions for their inmates. I pitty your dispise of a generative architecture that illuminates and exposes a process before society! Psycohological impliacation of a prisoners within a plain transparent cell over looking a world passing him by, surely thats and instigator for mediative embodiment and a questioning of the own psyche!

  • paul macdonald

    I think its a great ideal , why not try to inspire these people and give them a glimse of what could some day be theirs if they work hard, I bet the people in prison were rarely shown any good examples of what life can be like. To all the cynics out there, its still prison with no freedom of choice , I would rather live in a garage and be free than in a five star prison 

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