arc prison furniture, 1998
HMP Barlinnie, Glasgow
with Bob McCaffrey & Aidan Jamieson

Seating system for the new 'open visit' centre at HMP Barlinnie, the UK's largest remand prison.

The brief asked for designs to accommodate seating for up to 4 people - 1 inmate and 3 visitors per group - and a surface for drinks etc. With particular concerns over the increased risk of drug-transfer, the seating solution had to be robust to withstand abuse in a potentially stressful/volatile environment and easy to maintain. A solution was proposed which took inspiration from the 'diner' booth:

arc sketches

All parties sit on one 'bench'; the inmate subtly separated from the visitors by the table's vertical supporting 'wall', which intersects the seating surface and also prevents anything being passed below the table surface.A wraparound back rest provides a feeling of intimacy, cutaway at the intersection of inmate/visitor to ease supervision of this sensitive zone.

arc rear

The unit allows for fewer or greater numbers of visitor without showing 'empty spaces', and allows for wheelchair-bound visitors to join the group. Single access/egress point allows staff to 'contain' inmate if trouble occurs.

Constructed from solid beech, laminated beech ply and powder-coated steel, the sheer mass of each single-unit construction negates concern regarding their likely use as a weapon!

arc occupants

Mil (L), in Jailhouse Rock tribute denim suit, and Bob McCaffrey (2nd from R) test Arc with prison governor Houchen, Nick Savva of Morris Furniture and Barlinnie's head of security, having just helped install and assemble 70 units in the brand new Open Visit Centre, June 1998. As anticipated, it was nigh impossible to pass drugs to Bob under the table!

© mil stricevic 2009