the architetcure of prisons

Essay Competition: The Architecture of Prisons

Submission: December 11, 2020
Registration: November 06, 2020
Language: English
Location: Concept
Prizes: Please see details below
Type: Open


Nearly 11 million people around the world are currently living in prisons, with a significant number of those still awaiting trial and sentencing for the crimes they are accused of. The impact of a person’s time in prison is felt not only by them, but by the community at large. Many prisoners are so negatively affected by their experience in prison that they are never able to fully rejoin society.
In many developing countries, prisons are built to western standards, removing inmates from cultural norms, and that has a significant impact on their mental well-being. This also makes it more difficult for those who have served their sentence to function normally in society. Isolating prisoners, having them eating and sleeping alone, is often psychologically damaging and makes it harder for them to adjust when they are released.

Bee Breeders, in partnership with ARCHHIVE BOOKS, is calling for essay submissions for their next print publication, “The Architecture of Prisons”, which is planned for release in spring 2021. This essay competition is being run alongside the Prisons Redesigned! architecture competition (prisonsredesigned.beebreeders.com), in which participants must envision designs for a new style of prison that could accommodate 600 inmates. Participants are welcome to join either or both of the competitions.

The Architecture of Prisons essay competition is looking for essay submissions on the impact architecture has on inmates and communities. We’ve seen how incarceration affects individuals around the world, causing them severe psychological distress and subjecting them to abuse and physical harm during their sentence. In many instances, this results in long-term changes in behaviour, making it almost impossible for prisoners to become contributing members of society upon release.

How can prisons be effectively re-imagined? What purpose do they serve now and what purpose could they serve in the future? How has a change in design revolutionised institutions in the past? For this essay competition, the jury panel is looking for submissions that show a deep understanding of how architecture and design contribute to these problems, as well as ideas and insights about the power of architecture to correct them.

Submissions from participants related to any field or discipline are welcome, and selected winners will receive monetary awards and will be included in the ARCHHIVE BOOKS“ The Architecture of Prisons” publication.

Do you have something to say about prison architecture?


3 winning proposals and 6 honourable mentions will be selected. Bee Breeders will award a total of 1,000 € in prize money to competition winners as follows:

1st Prize – 600 €
2nd Prize – 300 €
3rd Prize – 100 €

+ 6 honourable mentions


Authors of all winning submissions will be credited for their work. The publication will be featured on our partner websites, and is intended to receive international exposure.  Each selected author will receive a free copy of ARCHHIVE BOOKS Architecture of Prisons.


Early Bird Registration: MAY 14 – JUNE 19
Advance Registration: JUNE 20 – SEPTEMBER 11
Last Minute Registration: SEPTEMBER 12 – NOVEMBER 6

Closing date for registration: NOVEMBER 6, 2020
Closing date for submission: DECEMBER 11, 2020 (11:59pm GMT)
Announcement of the winners: FEBRUARY 19, 2021

Go to the competition’s website