The Prison Wall

August 18, 2011

Following Foucault’s idea of a heterotopia of deviation, the cemetery and the parallels it lies with a prison, the essay will focus primarily on the prison institution and shifts both the institutions have undergone from being situated in the heart of a city to the outside fringe. It will look at the implications of reintegrating the prison back into a city and the ‘affect’ of an architectural element of the prison, the wall.

The prison and cemetery are two fundamental institutions that are quickly set up following any given natural disaster that devastates a city’s infrastructure, with the hospital following, however, once order has been re-established, these two institutions are pushed back outside the city, whereas the hospital remains. By relocating the prison back into the city, the knowledge of knowing the presence of the institution affects, almost a sixth principle (following Foucault’s five), where the affect can take place even before physically entering any opening, but rather, a mental entry of knowing. As such, the wall of the prison plays an important role as a mediator of the relationship between the sidewalk, the road and the existing city fabric across the road. How the wall is determined fundamentally ‘affects’ even someone walking by without any intention of entering the premise. Once again, this effect is only applicable with the prison and the cemetery.

The essay will look at several historic prison structures that have remained in the city and its ‘wall’, as well as present day prison walls, and explore what would need to be suitable if prison was to shift back into the heart of a city.

Jacky Chan

One Response to “The Prison Wall”


  1. Jackie, this will be a fascinating essay, but you lack some structure. Perhaps sort out what are the key points you want to make and write the abstract following these key points. For instance, I will undertake an examination of the institution of the prison, which, much like the cemetery and the hospital were institutional forms that were once located closer to the heart of the city, and, except for the hospital, are now to be found at the periphery (but is this the case?)
    I want to explore the idea of relocating the prison back in the midst of a city, with a focus on the impact that the prison wall has in a busy CBD…
    Basically a little more structure, progress neatly through the main points you want to make, and keep all this in mind when you structure the essay as a whole…
    I also like the idea that you plan to add a sixth item to Foucault’s heteroptopias…great! I’m still unclear what this is though?


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