Living in a society means living under rules, but if you don’t respect those rules, you’ll probably end up living in a 2,7 x 4 meters cell.
Then, if we’re talking about Italy’s penitentiary system, you should consider that you’re going to share those almost-eleven-squared-meters with other 3 or 4 people.
Yes, we don’t have death penalty since 1948, but that’s the only thing my country should be proud of when speaking about justice and prisons. However, the most symptomatic problem has always been the amount of space available for detainees in prisons that inevitably revolve around the issue of overcrowding, which makes the prisons of our country unworthy of a civilized society.
“The problem may be tackled seriously only by questioning the so-called ‘leggi carcerogeniche’ (‘carcero-genic laws’, cfr. ‘carcere’, the Italian word for ‘prison’), which provide for imprisonment as the first option when it is deemed that a punitive response is called for and not as a last resort for certain types of minor offences. Reference in this regard may be made to the Bossi-Fini law on immigration, the former Cirielli law relating to habitual relapse into crime and the Fini-Giovanardi law on drug addiction.” says Lucia Castellano, a prison director since 1991 and, from 2002 to June 2011, prison service manager at the Bollate penitentiary for common detainees, which, under her supervision, developed as one of few model institution in Italy and at European level for activities relating to the social and occupational rehabilitation of prisoners.
All of this issues are the starting point of Cibic Workshop and Comodo’s (Comunicare Moltiplica Doveri) project Freedom Room presented at Triennale di Milano from 9th to 14th of April 2013.
Freedom room is a project developed by Aldo Cibic, Tommaso Corà, Marco Tortoioli Ricci in collaboration with one of the Italian High Security Prisons, Spoleto’s correctional facility. Comodo – a cooperative- has started since 2003 its education activities in that prison, dedicated to inmates’ professional training in design, grapichs and publishing.
Comodo and Cibic Workshop started to work together in 2009 in order to identify and analyze the opportunities provided by design to improve work inside prisons.
The result is a modular room, the same size as an average prison cell, designed with the carpentry workers of Spoleto’s prison as project consultant. Cibic Workshop and Comodo say that it could be used as “a brand new essential and economic housing module has aroused from this work, a proposal/product for innovative temporary or permanent solutions, spread hotels, student facilities, hostels. A room that becomes a place designed to use the space at its best, for working, studying, living, enjoying. But also a room that becomes a tool for urban renovation in abandoned areas.”
They add that it could be the starting point to “imagine new Italian prisons’ cells”.
In the end, this duplicity may be something closer to a confusing ambiguity than to a fertile multiplicity, and the taste is more sugarcoating the pill, than facing a real solution.
But we have to admit that, at least, it made possible to spotlight once again one of the darkest corners of contemporary societies, something architecture is used to evade.