Monday, January 29, 2007

Prison facilities contd

Further to my thoughts about prisons, I suddenly remembered the Roman fort kit. When the Roman army travelled, they took with them a pre-fabricated fort, which could be erected pretty much in a day. Put it up, dig ditches, and you had a very serviceable fort. Also, every fort was laid out exactly the same as every other fort. Therefore, every soldier always knew where everything in the fort could be found, even on a dark, stormy night with arrows whistling past his ears. Also, the components of the fort could be fabricated in large quantities, with a minimum of fuss.

Why not have one prison design, designed by a team of prison officers and intelligent members of the public (absolutely no architects allowed)? All prisons would be built according to this design, which would be simple, functional and built on the principle that the Victorians established: a prison should LOOK like a prison, not like a City Academy with slightly fewer security features. It should be built to last 100 years; it should have no entertainment facilities of any kind; it should be spartan; it should be easy to construct; it should maximise the idea of prison as first and foremost punishment.

The same idea could also be used in public housing. There is no need whatsoever to constantly re-design council houses- have one perfectly practical template and build all council houses to that pattern. That template could also have integral to it a materials quality specification which would have to be adhered to. It could save the nations millions and millions in design fees and in sub-standard council house building.

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