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Anstalten Correctional Facility

Nuuk/ Greenland

Size/ 8,387 m²
Competition/ 2013, 1st prize in restricted competition
Status/ Completed in 2020
Client/ Danish Ministry of Justice/ Danish Prison and Probation Service
Partner architect/ Friis & Moltke
Landscape architect/ Lytt (Møller & Grønborg)
Full Service Consultant/ Rambøll A/S
Awards/ 2017, WAN Future Projects Civic Award

Nestled in the rugged terrain of Greenland’s seaside capital, Anstalten in Nuuk - a new correctional facility, is the setting for progressive rehabilitation, and a bold statement about the power of architecture to affect human behavior. Openness, light, views, security and flexibility are the leading values behind the design of the first such facility in the capital of Greenland. The project matches the unique and beautiful surroundings and supports the focus of the Danish Prison Service on both punishment and rehabilitation.

Architecturally the facility is composed of accurately shaped blocks, which in their positioning follow the contours of the rocky landscape. In appreciation of the character of the landscape, the orientation and scale of the project makes the building appear subordinate to its surroundings.

The burnt sienna corten steel facades, impacted by the local climactic conditions, complement the surrounding landscape.

Anstalten is designed like a small village over three levels with residential blocks, workspaces, education and sports facilities, a library, a health center, and a chapel.

Openness is a central theme at Anstalten. Large windows in the common areas draw nature inside.

The surrounding natural landscape permeate the housing units and common areas. The walkway connecting the housing units and the remainder of the facility gives inmates a physical and mental separation between the “residence” and the “workplace,” mimicking life outside the prison.

Visual artist Julie Edel Hardenberg adorned the walls of the prayer room with snowflakes formed by animal motifs. Made of white plexiglass and beads, the works are inspired by the Greenlandic national costume.

The gymnasium also features works by visual artist Julie Edel Hardenberg. The motifs are inspired by Greenlandic mythology.

Anstalten’s building form follows the natural contours of the rocky landscape along Greenland’s coast 265 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle.

The project consists of three residential units with 12-square-metre private rooms for 76 inmates, 40 of which house inmates in the closed section. A panoramic window spans the common area, and most of the inmates have an unrestricted view towards the sea from the bar-less windows in their rooms.

The enclosed area of the correctional facility is surrounded by a five-meter-high wall adorned with animal motifs by Greenlandic artist Aka Høegh. The cells are designed so inmates can see over the wall, to the sea and mountains beyond.

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