Designing a prison is never easy. More than a simple architectural work, "It is above all a sociological and political question", specify the architects of LAN, in charge of the construction of a dual-use building: a semi-liberty district and the penitentiary integration services of Hauts-de-Seine. Focus on a set with multiple problems managed brilliantly.

The prison universe is a very complex world thought, very often, outside of any urban fabric. Between decentralization and surrounding walls, everything is done to exclude prisons from civic life. The architects of the Parisian LAN agency then start from this observation to register their project in the 21rd century, with societal issues that accompanies our time. One watchword here: "The ambition to blur the feeling of heterotopia between the city and the penitentiary enclosure".

The first characteristic of this project resides in an unprecedented regrouping of two very distinct programs gathered in an L-shaped unit. While the headquarters of the prison services of integration and probation of Hauts-de-Seine (SPIP), installed in the built-up front guarantees follow-up of detainees, the semi-liberty district (QSL), developed at the heart of the block, ensures that convicts benefit from a special regime allowing them to leave prison with the aim of invest in a reintegration project, thus preventing the risk of recurrence and facilitating their final exit.

The project is part of a dense urban area where suburban housing, large complexes and industrial buildings coexist. From the street, the building appears as a large corten steel monolith at the corner of two streets, pierced on the south facade by the entrance to the semi-liberty district. A transition space connecting interior and exterior is overhung by a cantilever structure.

The semi-liberty district is also illustrated by a colorful playground and a planted garden visible from the cells and accessible via the ground floor. Located on this level, the common rooms - refectory, weight room, media library and laundromat - open onto the promenade.

A new conception of the prison environment which opens up new welcome perspectives.

Project title : Day parole district and Headquarters of the Hauts-de-Seine penitentiary integration and probation service
Location: Nanterre (92)
Owner: Ministry of Justice, Public Agency for Real Estate of Justice
Mastery of work : LAN
Surface area: 4 m² SDP
Cost of works: 13 000 000 € HT
Calendar : 2019 delivery

To learn more, visit LAN architecture website

Photographs: Cyril Weiner

Zoe Térouinard

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