Women's Prison Holmsheidi


Rikiskaup (State Trading Center)


Holsmheidi, Reykjavic (IS)

  • study
  • in progress
  • built

The imprisonment of people is perhaps the best kept taboo within our modern society. By fencing-in, detaining and controlling a minority, it generates freedom for the majority. Can it, however, facilitate freedom within the confinement at the same time?
In the Holmheidi proposal, the idea of control through the panopoticon is radically challenged. This shift alters society’s view of the prison as an anonymous building. Here, though still separated by a screen, the outside has to face the recognizable and present inside.
The circular ground plan and the fully glazed inner court provide the guards with a 360 vision on all levels.
 Simultaneously, the prisoners gaze is liberated from the centripetal force of the panopticon. The field of view is free and randomized in all directions. This ‘mesh of gaze’ coincides with the ‘openness of mind’ throughout the prison.
All the cells are situated on the first floor, leaving the ground floor for communal activities, staff and visitors. The rooftop is conceived as a communal outdoor space.
The facade is a subtle reference to the traditional Icelandic lopapeysa (woolen sweaters).