Correctional Architecture, Carceral Space and the ‘Pre-Prison’: ‘Habitation’ and the Architectural Geographies of Confinement

Activity: Academic and Industrial eventsGuest lecture or Invited talk


The lecture draws on empirical research conducted as part of a study funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council to explore the ways in which spaces of confinement reflect the punitive philosophy of their specific context. Prisons have been conceptualised variously as ‘total institutions’, unusual and separated spaces; as heterotopic spaces, discrete from but still within the ‘normal’ social order; and as spaces in which prisoners can be located outside of the rubric of citizenship, and in which characteristics of ‘spaces of exception’ can become entrenched and normalised. Recent work within carceral geography has addressed the significance of carceral spaces, recognizing space as more than the surface where social practices take place, but although geographers understand that space can affect the ways people act within it, and are increasingly applying this perspective to carceral spaces, studies of prisons as buildings and environments where the behaviour of inmates can be dramatically changed, and which investigate how this might happen, remain scarce. In this lecture I draw on geographies of architecture to explore the processes of architectural design and construction in order to uncover and question the multiple political, affective and material ways in which buildings are designed and constituted, especially those processes which occur before ground is broken and before a building starts to take shape. In the lecture I contend that the dynamic encounters which occur between the client commissioners of buildings, the consortia which tender to deliver them, and the technologies which inform and visualise their design, are as critical to understanding the inhabitation of the completed building as are the encounters which happen in and around the building once it starts to exist as a material entity.
Period27 May 2015
Held atUniversity of Eichstatt-Ingolstadt, Germany