Halden Prison in Norway looks sort of like a fancy dorm room or a hotel — much different than the barbed wire and cramped cells we often associate with prison design. Its look is all part of a plan to create a more humane prison, one where the architecture isn’t part of the punishment. Most prisons around the world are consolidated into one single building. This style makes it easy and efficient for inmates to move around, but the design is monotonous and full of visually unappealing materials, like steel and concrete. Plus, tight quarters inside these spaces can foster conflict.
Halden has a different structure: a campus design, where inmates move from one building to another, and are surrounded by lots of windows and construction materials that help muffle noise and take advantage of natural light. The prison’s layout also encourages guards to interact with inmates face-to-face, which fosters better relationships and reduces security-related incidents.
Halden’s design style is expensive — which is why we mostly see it implemented in places with good social support systems, like Western Europe and Scandinavia. Still, the design is setting new standards for what prisons could be like in the future.
“How Finland tackled homelessness and why Birmingham might be following in their footsteps”
A revolutionary new scheme under which rough sleepers are given a home straight away could be officially piloted here in Birmingham (UK) after showing success abroad.
The “Housing First” principle gives rough sleepers a permanent stable home and address rather than move them through various shelters, hostels and supported accommodation.
It has proved such a success in the USA, Finland and several other countries that the Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid is looking to pilot the scheme here – and the West Midlands is making a bid to be that test bed.
Finnish students have, in the past several years, consistently ranked in the top ten among millions of students worldwide in science, reading, and math.
In Finland, says the Minister of Education, “all the schools are equal. You never ask where the best school is.” It’s also illegal in Finland to profit from schooling. Wealthy parents have to ensure that neighborhood schools can give their kids the best education possible, because they are the only option.
In Finland, no teacher “is allowed to lead a primary school class without a master’s degree in education, with specialization in research and classroom practice.” Teaching “is the most admired job in Finland next to medical doctors.” And as Dana Goldstein points out at The Nation— Finnish teachers are “gasp!—unionized and granted tenure.” Perhaps an even more significant difference the documentary glossed over: in Finland, “families benefit from a cradle-to-grave social welfare system that includes universal daycare, preschool and healthcare, all of which are proven to help children achieve better results at school.”