An Auckland prison designed by Australia’s MODE and Peddle Thorp Aitken (PTA) has recently reached practical completion and seeks to usher a new era of correctional facility design in New Zealand.

The 960-bed Auckland South Corrections Facility, known locally as Kohuora, is New Zealand’s first ever Public-Private Partnership (PPP) prison project designed around a ‘Responsible Prisoner Model’ where prisoners earn their way to’.

MODE and PTA were the lead design consultants for the $300 million project and they focussed their efforts on creating a facility and environment that supported a reduction of re-offending prisoners in the system.

The gaol is located on 17ha of land at Wiri in the southwest of Auckland, and is laid out according to the prisoner's journey. Where prisoners are housed at Kohuora is decided according to a variety of factors including severity of sentence, level of risk and past behaviour within the walls.

Higher risk prisoners for example will sleep in the X-shaped “House blocks” to the north of the site while lower risk and rehabilitated prisoners will take up residence in the more flexible Residences blocks to the south.

The two-storey high Residences will house up to 24 prisoners in self-care accomodation. Prisoners will have their own bedrooms and a budget to buy their food.

Unlike traditional prisons, Kohuora also rejects cage or wire walkways instead using state-of-the-art technology to ensure security in a more open layout’. The perimeter fence is steel mesh although precast concrete panels were used by MODE and PTA to create acoustic and visual barriers between men and women’s facilities.  

MODE Director and lead architect on the project, Stuart Young says the design follows a progressive model that aims to promote rehabilitation with reward incentives.

“The operational concept was centred on a progressive model of accommodation that rewards a prisoner’s rehabilitation progress,” he says.

“Prisoners are initially accommodated in a cell with standard amenities and finishes, and as rehabilitation progresses, they are upgraded to progressively better-equipped accommodation.”

“At the final stage, some prisoners will be moved into residential self-care accommodation within the prison, and, finally, on release or parole, are relocated to outside accommodation with intensive support from Not-For-Profit agencies”.

Images: Dave Olsen, Infographic: NZ Herald.