When the Government of Gibraltar made the decision to bid for UNESCO World Heritage Status for the ‘Fortress of Gibraltar’, this presented a challenge for the existing prison, which was located within the historic Moorish Castle. ONE Creative environments (ONE) was appointed to design a new facility which would meet modern demands and allow the castle to be restored and preserved.
Following initial feasibility studies, ONE was appointed to design a new prison facility for the Government of Gibraltar. Located on the Upper Rock area, the new three-storey prison accommodates approximately 50 cells with two bunks and provides recreational and educational facilities, an administration block with associated command suite and additional storage facilities. The design also incorporates secure anti-ligature fixtures and fittings throughout for inmate safety.
The new building’s prominent position is in an area of historic interest and its construction used local building techniques. The choice of heavy masonry not only complements the surroundings but was chosen for its heavy thermal properties. The thermal mass absorbs heat during the day, helping to cool the interior, while heat is purged at night through a series of secure open vents.
The site of the new prison also posed a significant ecological challenge. Home to the native Barbary Partridge (a protected species in Gibraltar), ONE’s design incorporates a series of secondary perimeter fences to provide a safe zone for the protected bird. This also creates a secure buffer between the prison and the surrounding area, while protecting this important natural habitat.
Each floor is designed with a series of secure partitions. Due to the diversity of the prison population - from women and young offenders, to those serving life terms - this allows the expansion or contraction of each wing according to inmate numbers and their demographic, with secure separation between groups.
Due to its exposed location on the Rock of Gibraltar, heating and cooling of the facility is a key consideration. A natural ventilation strategy has been employed, offering a more energy efficient and cost effective design solution. Service ducts double-up as smoke extraction and natural ventilation risers, allowing warm air to escape up through the roof, while cooler air is drawn in through secure open vents at night.