PriArc PhD Miranda Critchley’s MA dissertation on the redevelopment of Holloway Prison has been shortlisted for the RIBA President’s Awards for Research in the History and Theory category. The dissertation is titled Reinventing the Prison: The Redevelopment of HMP Holloway, 1968-78. Here is Miranda’s summary:
“My research looked at the redevelopment of Holloway Prison, a women’s prison in north London, in the 1960s and 70s. I was interested in how the plans for Holloway fitted into the history of English prison architecture: did they mark a radical change from earlier ideas about prison design? Or did they simply repackage existing ideas? I concluded that the Holloway redevelopment wasn’t simply an idealistic project – it was contested from the start by grassroots campaigns, local government, and prison staff. The prison department’s claims that the redevelopment marked progress were problematic: whereas earlier in the century, progress had been understood as creating open prisons and smaller institutions, the plans for Holloway proposed a large, closed establishment. In this context, architecture was used to project an image of ‘normality’ and progress and limited the understandings of harm in the prison system, suggesting that it derived from the quality of the physical environment rather than from the fundamental principle of incarceration. Whereas the old building, with its castellated gatehouse and high walls, attracted criticism of the penal system and acted as visual symbol of its old fashioned and objectionable nature, the new building, designed to appear non-descript from the main road, deflected public attention. Architecture had a political impact here: it was a device to increase the acceptability of the principle of incarceration.”
The PriArc team are happy and proud to congratulate Miranda on this amazing achievement!