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PRINT September 1981

Project for the Renovation of a Panopticon Prison

IN 1979 I WAS ASKED to “study” the possible renovation of a panopticon prison—one of three built on the principle in its pure form: a circle with the all-seeing “eye” of the observatory as its center. The drawings presented here are the outcome of this study.

The 100-year-old building which lies along the Rhine had to be equipped “for at least another 50 years” and “to embody present-day insights into the treatment of prisoners. . . .”

In the 1950s, when the prevailing ideology subscribed to the “pavilion” model of prisons whereby, supposedly for psychological reasons, the inmates were divided into small groups, this building was condemned and its demolition planned. Now, for a variety of reasons—its uniqueness as a purely theoretical building, its undeniable architectural quality, the convenience of its existence—reinforced by the fact that the prison was surprisingly popular with its

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