Roua Atamaz Sibai

Roue Atamaz Sibal


My work investigates the role architecture plays in both causing and ameliorating cycles of crime and punishment. It is an extension of my thesis, titled Rethinking the Architecture of Incarceration: A Closer Look on Rikers Island’s Jail Facilities.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has set a goal of closing the Rikers Island Jail Facilities by 2026 by reducing the incarceration rate and building four new smaller prisons each in a New York City borough. Two hundred women will be housed in a wing of the all-male jail currently is planned to open in the Kew Gardens section of Queens. This project highlights the problems that would be created as a result of housing both women and men inmates in one building. It proposes to build a separate women’s prison that is designed specifically for them.

This project focuses on space design and the interaction between inmates and staff. The idea of my design is to create spaces for more intimate daily experiences. Therefore, the 200 women are divided into five units, which were each then divided into two housing buildings. Each unit houses 40 women (20 in each housing building), five staff members, kitchen and dining areas, lounge spaces, and laundry facilities. Having the five units shaped in a round shape helped create ample communal space in the center and smaller programmed communal spaces between the units. Since this project focuses on fostering positive relationships between inmates and staff, all the communal spaces are shared spaces and accessible by everyone. The central communal space focuses on activities that bring people together, hence, the basketball court, a running track, and an amphitheater. This design creates the opportunity of having different experiences while living in the same place.

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