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Natura X

Part 2 Project 2008
John Zhang
Royal College of Art, UK
a.k.a Battersea Inmate Rehabilitation District.
The extreme control exercised in our correctional institutions is failing society. Natura X asks if relinquishing the traditional notion of control creates a successful alternative to established typologies? This is a prison without walls or its associated stigmas, a piece of the city. It allows the public and nature to infiltrate it through shared infrastructures and services - powerful sources for spontaneous social encounter and formal chaos. The inmates enjoy a constantly expanding and unscripted range of freedoms and interactions as they approach their release date, until they become a part of society.

John Zhang

As part of the studio’s research into the impact of globalisation on architecture, ADS1 looked at the constant battle between nature and culture and their roles in forming our cities. John Zhang’s own interpretation of such theme targeted architecture’s role in balancing the fragile combination between chaos and control. Strategically, his proposal investigates the very contemporary issue of detention facilities. The simultaneous technological advancement in controlling devices and the current overcrowding and violence of prisons provided an ideal brief to explore. Although the proposal relies on controlling mechanisms such as tagging technologies and scripting softwares, John exemplarily managed to overturn constrains to create a new typology; an urban prison without walls. The project challenges the orthodox, mechanistic use of digital tools in favour of a hybrid approach where advanced computational techniques are coupled with careful observation of the social, cultural, and political factors surrounding any project.


Mr Roberto Bottazzi
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