The Design of the Women’s Building on the site of HMP Holloway
I wanted to create a building that people would want to come and visit; one that would be an icon on the landscape and be a positive legacy to the prison and all the women and staff that spent time there. The shape of the building from overhead is a representation of the female gender symbol. The façade would have curvy lines that are a reflection of nature, the female form and spirit and a freeing up of the hard straight lines that the image of bars represents. The circular part of the building would be mainly glass, inviting the public to look inside, and an opposite of the closed secret world that is Prison.
The Basement would house a 50 meter Swimming Pool that would promote health and fitness
and provide a training facility for future national and international competition, encouraging those that live in the area as well as outsiders to have a quality venue to train in, to inspire future generations and provide a general area for wellness within the community. Swimming is a great skill that all children should learn as well as providing rehabilitation, fitness and recovery opportunities for the community.
The Ground Floor would house an open welcoming entrance area with a small Museum area
dedicated to telling the story of the site, not only the high profile cases, but testaments from anyone who had encounter with the site. Here there would also be a Shop that was an outlet for products and merchandise that was either created within the prison system or was produced with the building and its associated activities. Some merchandise could be commissioned as it would help promote the branding of the project and the Women’s Centre in general. There would also be a Café open to the public around the area dedicated to an
Open Exhibition Space that would continually hold exhibitions of art and creative projects, often but not exclusively by women affected by thecriminal justice system.
The First Floor would hold more public areas and services that the building is promoting, Sign
Posting Help Centres for women in difficult situations, a Crèche, a Women’s Library, Therapy and Counselling Rooms, Workshops and Studio Space that would not only provide spaces for group sessions, but could produce products for sale in the shop. These could include a Pottery Studio, a Textiles Workshop, a Painting Studio and a Craft Centre.
The Second Floor would House a Music Studio and a Recording Studio as well as space to hire
out for Photography Shoots and Filming. Much of this floor would also be offered as space for
offices to hire, this would help generate income as well as open up some services with in the
building to outside organisations. There would be a protocol as to the type of organisations that would be able to rent space in the building so as to keep the integrity and ethos of the building being a Women’s Centre.
The Third Floor would house Offices for the Administration of the building and for Services and Organisations that are directly associated with the purpose of the Building. This floor would also have rooms that would be available for hire as Function Rooms, Conference Rooms and Meeting Rooms. Classes such as Yoga, Palates, Dance could also be run from these spaces.
The Roof area would house a Roof Top Restaurant that could serve Lunch and High Class Dining in inside and outside dining areas. The circular body of the building would house a Roof Top Garden area that could grow vegetables and plant/organic products for sale in the shop or for use in the café/restaurant. Bee Hives would be placed at the far end of the garden to provide pollination for the vegetables as well as honey. The whole roof area would also be encircled with Solar Panels in order to help power the building. This would also provide an excellent Education Facility for local schools as well as a flagship approach to commercial community buildings.
The Building would provide employment for a great number of people; provide community
services for women in need and creative, confidence building opportunities for all those that
attended classes and workshops. The centre should be aimed at women, but should not be
exclusively for women. It should be aimed at helping women engage with and become valid
contributors to society which would involve including Men too. Obviously there would also be
activities that were for women only, especially for example sessions that dealt with domestic
violence and other sensitive issues.
The Building should also provide outlets and venture opportunities for organisations such as Clinks (i.e. running the Roof Top Restaurant), The Koestler Trust (Providing prison related Artworks), Women in Prison (providing Services for Women affected by the Criminal Justice System). I invite more suggestions as to suitable charitable and business related organisations that you would like to see in the building.
This design was created by Niki Gibbs, Blue Sunflower Enterprises Ltd in collaboration with Holloway Prison Stories.