Custom Rockfon ceiling systems and wall solutions play a substantial role in the overall design, elevating the well-being of inmates and staff while adhering to strict security requirements.
A Village-Inspired Prison Layout
Situated on a 15-hectare plot, the Prison Haren site houses two detention centres, a men’s penitentiary, open and closed prisons for women, a youth institution, a forensic psychiatric centre, a facility for limited detention, and various other facilities.
As part of the prison design, the community building is laid out like a town hall and the cluster buildings that contain the prison cells resemble multi-family homes. All the buildings are interconnected by a central square, enabling convenient movement between the different areas of the complex.
By embracing such a village-style layout, Prison Haren cultivates a sense of community and nurtures social connections among both staff and inmates. It serves as a modern replacement for the outdated prisons in Brussels; namely Sint-Gillis, Vorst, and Berkendael.
Product Challenges and Needs in Prison Design
In the prison’s design, the ceilings of the common areas – a total of approximately 9000 m2 – were initially fitted with hard mineral panels. The Belgian Buildings Agency and the Federal Public Service Justice (FPS Justice) needed an alternative system that would not allow for any manipulations by the inmates for security reasons.
It was crucial that there is no space between the profiles and ceiling panels to prevent prisoners from hiding prohibited items in the plenum. At the same time, it had to remain accessible for maintenance and intervention parties. These two conflicting challenges required a tailor-made solution.
The Buildings Agency collaborated with architecture firms EGM and B2Ai to develop the specifications for the prison project. A solution was devised for the ceilings based on these specifications and in collaboration with B2Ai, the contractor Denys NV, and the installer Mommaert. Along with security, fire safety and well-being criteria were all central to the acoustic design strategy.
“We presented various mock-ups in our training centre in Wijnegem in Belgium so that FPS Justice could see and feel in detail whether the system fully met their requirements,” says Florence van Knippenbergh, Technical Specialist at Rockfon.
Based on the mock-ups, the spaces were divided into guarded and unguarded zones.