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Mas d’Enric Penitentiary in Tarragona, Spain, by AiB estudi d’arquitectes and Estudi PSP Arquitectura

The undulating green roof echoes the canopy of the surrounding woodland bridging an otherwise insuperable divide between inside and out

A rectangular perimeter subdivided into modular courtyard blocks in the form of a grid: in these terms, Mas d’Enric Penitentiary superficially resembles a mat building of the sort described by Alison Smithson in 1974. However, the mat building was intended to be open-plan blown up to urban scale and to be, at least in principle, infinitely extensible. A prison can be neither of these things. Security demands rigorously enforced interior divisions and an equally impermeable exterior boundary. This is the circle that the prison’s architects have tried to square: openness and closedness, freedom and its opposite. And perhaps it is appropriate to the humane prison that its architecture should also be openly riven with contradictions. These surface in the several courtyards, which allow constrained recreation, and the undulating green roof, which echoes the canopy of the surrounding woodland, bridging an otherwise insuperable divide between inside and out.  


Aib psp mas d enric penitentiary cross sections

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This case study is part of Typology: Prison. Read the full article here

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