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‘Fit and Re-Orientation’: Unpacking Layers of Carceral Design Heritage in Contemporary Design of Special Care Homes for Youth, and Its Impact on Well-Being

Conference contribution
Authors Franz James
Sepideh Olausson
Published in Paper presented at the conference 'The Material and Immaterial Heritage of Psychiatry', organized by Centre for Critical Heritage Studies, UGOT, Heritage and Wellbeing, Sweden.
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Design and Crafts
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Language en
Keywords Carceral design, Carceral heritage, Well-being, Architecture, Prison architecture
Subject categories Design, Architecture, Nursing


Abstract: This paper aims to critically discuss and analyze the carceral (prisonlike) layers of the particular design heritage that form the contemporary interior design of rooms in institutions that serves as correctional facilities; such as prisons, psychiatric hospitals and so-called special youth homes. Moreover, it aims to shed a light on the impact carceral design may have on well-being for people who inhabit these spaces. The main focus of this paper will be on special youth homes that are run by The Swedish National Board of Institutional (Statens Institutionsstyrelse, SiS) and provide compulsory care and rehabilitation for children and adolescents with severe psychosocial problems, substance abuse and/or criminal behavior. The special youth homes are considered to be neither prisons nor jails. Nevertheless, some are actually located in former prisons, and the majority are built for incarceration. To analyze the layers of carceral design the concept of ‘Fit and Re-Orientation’ is used. This concept stems from a phenomenological viewpoint developed by Sarah Ahmed; “Queer phenomenology”. To elucidate incarcerated young people’s lived experiences of carceral design and the impact it has on their wellbeing in everyday life, examples of empirical data are brought in. It is further discussed how the physical environment ‘Fits or Re-Orientates’ them in the process of (re)habilitation. Finally, the authors suggest a model for how the dialectic relationship between the incarcerated person and the physical environment can be understood and why this relationship becomes counterproductive for (re)habilitating care processes and well-being.

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