The Cuyo Federal Penitentiary Complex is located on 50 hectares of land near Lujan de Cuyo in the province of Mendoza, Argentina. The new Cuyo Prison Complex will consist of three separate correctional facilities:
§ A 392-bed Male Facility (Instituto Penitenciario Federal de Cuyo),
§ A 112-bed Female Facility (Instituto Correccional de Cuyo), which includes a unit for incarcerated mothers with children, and
§ A 32-bed Open Facility (Instituto Abierto), which is a minimum security center for individuals transitioning back into the community.
Each facility will be managed independently, will operate autonomously and in a decentralized manner with regards to the inmates’ security and treatment. In line with national and international penitentiary standards and rules concerning the treatment of persons deprived of liberty, this scheme will allow for the proper separation of females from males, untried from sentenced inmates, and young adults from older ones.
The design of the new federal prison complex represents a move away from punitive and oppressive custodial environments in favor of a normalized and dignified confinement. This project exemplifies the manner in which Argentina has sought to provide contemporary prison facilities that strive to meet the goals of rehabilitation and social reintegration by allowing people to pursue economic, social and personal development.
Rather than hardened, enclosed environments, the new model emphasizes greater openness. In line with modern design principles, each facility precinct embraces the campus planning concept where open and closed spaces are interposed, providing greater sensory stimuli and a spatial experience similar to that of a small urban setting. Following the therapeutic principles of the campus model, each facility is comprised of separated, informally grouped housing buildings organized around large communal open spaces. This allows the building occupants a sense of community and maximum freedom and space inside each precinct without compromising the safety of the inmates, staff and visitors.
To facilitate the process of rehabilitation, each prison facility is equipped with a variety of spaces for the provision of academic and vocational education, prison industries (including vitiviniculture, a regional specialty), recreational and treatment activities according to the inmates’ legal status and classification risk and needs. Another relevant aspect of rehabilitation is the concept of dynamic and progressive treatment system. Depending on the progress each individual makes towards their treatment goals and positive change, all sentenced inmates will be able to gradually advance from more restrictive to less restrictive environments and prison regimes, ending their sentences in an open regime. This final stage is characterized by the absence of physical security barriers and a less structures environment, with reliance on self-discipline, self-determination and pro-social behavior, providing the most favorable conditions for a successful transition to the community.
From a physical design perspective, this progression is accomplished through an element of internal flexibility. Accommodations are designed with different characteristics and different finishes appropriate to different security classifications, enabling inmates a sense of progression and movement through the architecture of the buildings.
The new model proposes multiple housing units of small size, each one with its own spacious living room and support spaces.