MMC Takes Centre Stage In New Prison Construction

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

MMC Takes Centre Stage In New Prison Construction

MMC Takes Centre Stage In New Prison Construction

The government has announced that four new prisons are to be built around England over the next few years, using modern methods of construction (MMC) to increase construction times and reduce energy use and emissions.

Chief secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay said in a statement that they will be turning to new construction technology to construct the prisons, with MMC already being used to construct a facility in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, PBC Today reports.

The first of the four new prisons will be built next to HMP Full Sutton in East Yorkshire, work now underway to find locations for another prison in the north-west and two more in the south-east, creating thousands of jobs during construction and afterwards.

The government has plans in place to create 10,000 additional prison places as part of a £2.5 billion programme designed to deliver modern jails to boost rehabilitation and reduce reoffending, with enhanced security and more training facilities to help people find employment upon release.

Discussing MMC, Mr Barclay went on to say: “Building on lessons from recent school construction, this will be part of a much wider change, to be embedded at the next comprehensive spending review, ensuring public buildings benefit from the quicker assembly times, lower energy use, and stronger green footprint offered by new construction technology.”

A recent RIBA-backed report looked into how prison design could actually help reduce violence and aid rehabilitation instead. It shows that behaviour can be changed through prison design and lifestyle costs reduced by using staff more efficiently, while putting prisoners to work.

The UK has the highest prison population in western Europe and the most effective way of reducing the costs related to imprisonment is to imprison fewer people.

RIBA president Jane Duncan explained that there is an extensive body of evidence suggesting that well designed spaces, created holistically, can have massive impacts on “performance, emotional outcomes, improvements in perceived security, privacy and safety”.

Look to Scandinavia for inspiration as to how it’s done and you’ll find prison architects experimenting with progressive and stylised designs, with internal prions spaces created that are more flexible and open, making spatial planning the norm and setting out to produce human alternatives to the more traditional prison architecture.

The concept also prioritises freedom of movement through design, such as using glazing instead of bars, infrared sensors, secure perimeters and few barriers inside prison grounds, and excellent sight lines to create a more normal, humane environment.

In contrast, thick mesh fences, high internal walls, gates everywhere, vandal-resistant furnishings and so on may be reaffirming negative messages and potentially reinforcing criminal identities.

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