Artipelag and Riddarholmen Church

Funded through a donation by the creator of the Babybjorn, Bjorn Jakobson, the Artipelag is an art museum and restaurant located in the archipelago of Stockholm, just outside of the city. Here, we dined with friends of Kirsten’s for lunch.

Traditional Swedish techniques were used in the construction of the façade including tar to seal the wood and repel water.

Riddarholmen Church

We ended the day with the Fotografiska, a contemporary photography museum in Stockholm. Current exhibits included Like A Horse and The Same New Pet, a series of photographs exploring the process of cloning pets in South Korea.


Goodbye Helsinki, Hello Stockholm!

By now, we have left Helsinki and arrived in Stockholm, Sweden. Reflecting on my time there, the people of the Criminal Sanctions Agency have been incredibly welcoming and kind in sharing any information I requested or hadn’t even thought of to ask. I learned so much and would like to thank Mr. Kauko Niemela and Ms. Jutta Kannisto for organizing this well rounded tour of prison faciltities as well as meetings and presentations I was able to attend to learn more about the process of design and implementation. Also, all of the governors, wardens, architects, and inmates who took the time to answer my questions-thank you as well.

The Finnish prison system has been very open and honest about their practices, intent, and goals for the future. The architects for the newest model prison being constructed in the near future agreed to send me floor plans and elevations of this design. But I will not be sharing this with you.

On to Stockholm!

We arrived in Stockholm on Midsommar Eve, a major holiday in the Nordic countries. Though there are many tourists here currently, many of the shops and stores will be closed due to the holiday-residents tend to leave the city for the country on this weekend. But since they are on holiday-so am I. My prison tours will resume on Tuesday when I meet with the Swedish Prison and Probation Service in Gothenburg. Until then-I am taking in the beautiful city of Stockholm, it’s architecture, cuisine, and museums.

So far, we have visited the Vasa Museet, a museum for the Vasa, a ship that sank in 1628 on it’s maiden voyage in Stockholm Harbor. She was salvaged and reconstructed in 1961.



4. Helsinki Prison – 6.22.17

The fourth and last prison I visited in Helsinki was the Helsinki Prison, a closed maximum security facility for males located in the city limits. I was invited to join a group from Macedonia who were interested in learning more about the Finnish prison facilities and policies because they are making great improvements to their own facilities.

This model would be the most closely related to the facilities of the United States in that there is a higher population housed in one building- roughly 350 clients. Also, the windows, which are operable, do have bars, fences and brick walls surround the perimeter, and there is a hint of barbed wire. Clients sentenced to this facility have committed violent crimes and are not yet prepared for the lifestyle of the open facility.

Some differences between the Helsinki prison and those of the U.S. include the opportunity to have a day of leave monthly once they are halfway through their sentence, a small monetary stipend for commissary purchases, and the ability to wear their own personal clothing.

Entering the prison through a set of automatic steel doors, I was directed into this waiting room atrium space. Clients often pass through this space which is filled with sunlight. This facility was built in 1881 and has many beautiful historic elements such as this stone pattern laid in the waiting room floor.

Sleeping quarters in this facility are much more closed than the three previous facilities visited; clients are locked into their individual cells at night. Most individuals have their own cell, but a few are inhabited by two clients.

Maintaining relationships on the outside with friends and loved ones is very important to a clients rehabilitation and success post-incarceration, so these phone booths are provided for the clients use. Sound proof, these booths allow the clients to speak to family or lawyers in privacy while still being visible to the guards.

As with every prison facility in Finland, physical health is important and provided for. The Helsinki Prison is equipped with a gymnasium, a weight lifting area inside as well as a weight lifting area outside. Inmates can borrow sneakers if they do not have a pair of their own. The outside area is used only in the summertime and the clients can spend many hours here. The summers in Helsinki are brief so inmates are given extra liberties during this season.

As with every prison I visited in Finland, the goal of relationships between guards and clients is one of respect and equality. There is minimal violence between inmates nor is there violence between inmates and guards. Although this prison was much more closed than the previous facilities I toured, I did not sense fear being locked inside with these inmates. There was a brief moment of panic when a door slammed shut and locked, leaving myself as well as two other women behind the tour group in a tiny corridor, but this was mostly due to my claustrophobia and fear of not being able to get out of the building. Luckily, the Governor was not too far away yet.

3. Suomenlinna Island – 6.21.17

A 15 minute ferry ride from Helsinki is Suomenlinna Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally constructed as a fortress, the island now houses residents, tourist attractions, and of course-a prison.

Suomenlinna Prison is Finland’s most open prison housing males reaching the end of their sentence. All must be able to work construction as their full time job is to maintain the fortress and tourist attraction on the island of Suomenlinna. Some clients even leave the island daily to attend jobs or classes in the city of Helsinki.

So when you see a person mowing the grass or repairing a stone wall of the fortress-it is most likely a client (inmate).

Shown above is the most current model for the open prison at Suomenlinna. Housing 8-12 clients, these structures are equipped with full kitchens, living/dining areas, single or double bedrooms, and sauna-a staple of Finnish culture. As mentioned previously, inmates in Finland are guaranteed all rights that other citizens of Finland enjoy-minus their freedom.

Typical client bedroom.

The prison complex is comprised of separate buildings for housing, staff, dining, and classroom space which can also be used for meetings with lawyers. The above image shows the canteen which is a multipurpose facility where inmates dine, staff can hold meetings, and large group gatherings are held.

Other inhabitants of the island include residents-roughly 850 people living free from the prison. Their houses and apartments are adjacent to the prison buildings. There are no fences separating the prison from the residences or the fortress-and there have not been any negative issues with inmates interacting with residents or visitors.

2. Vanaja Vankila – 6.20.17

The second prison visited was Vanaja vankila, an all female open facility located 15 minutes from Hameenlinna vankila in Vanaja, Finland. As with all prisons in Finland, there are no fences or barbed wire typical to the prisons in the United States. Women reside in cottages reminiscent of college dormitories, as shown above. Ms. Kaisa Tammi-Moilanen is the warden here and is very passionate about providing whatever the females need in order to get their lives back on track.

Full kitchens are provided in these cottages where the women cook their own meals. I again had the opportunity to speak directly with two female clients at Vanaja vankila, one of these discussions was held in the dining space pictured above. Mid conversation, the female I was speaking with jumped up to go answer her ringing cellular phone, which all clients are permitted to own.

The women are allowed an abundance of freedoms at Vanaja vankila because they arrive here most often at the end of their sentences in order to gradually transition out of the facility. The normal lifestyle is preparing them to live independently once they have served their sentence and are free to go home permanently.

I was allowed to enter all spaces of the facility including bedrooms. The client is free to decorate her personal space. The flowers on the table were picked on the prison campus-an element that brings cheer into the facility.

1. Hameenlinna Vankila – 6.20.17

Located one hour’s drive north of Helsinki, Hameenlinna vankila is a prison housing male and female clients under both closed and open facility polices. The male clients will soon be relocated to another nearby facility, allowing this to be strictly a female facility.

Finland has 4 levels of prison types ranging from maximum security closed facilities to open facilities where the inmates may have the opportunity to leave the facility for work and family visits.

Mr. Tuomo Karjenmaki, the Director of the facility, graciously guided our group consisting of three women from the Criminal Sanctions Agency as well as Kirsten and myself through the entire facility. I had the opportunity to sit with a client (inmate) to discuss her thoughts and feelings about the design of the prison; which spatial elements were a positive influence on her rehabilitation as well as what could be improved to make her feel as though she was living a normative lifestyle, as all Finnish prisons strive to do.

A major amenity in Hameenlinna vankila is the mother and child facilities; there are several areas where women can visit with their child in a comfortable environment as well as rooms for mothers and children to live. When female clients have yoiung children, they have the opportunity to bring their child in the prison with them.

Due to security and respect for privacy, I am unable to display photographs of the mothers with their children inside of the play rooms.

Our tour group was invited to eat lunch with the staff, which is the same type of food the clients are served, before we departed for our next vankila (prison) visit in nearby Vanaja.

At the end of the tour, the warden presented us with a gift: a tote bag sewn by the clients and a small blanket made from the same material used to make client uniforms historically. Clients are no longer required to wear uniforms, they may have their own clothes while living at Hameenlinna.

First day in Finland

Well, technically this is the second day in Helsinki, but the first day of my research. The first day was spent exploring and adjusting to the surroundings. And experiencing a truly endless day of summer.

This morning, I met with Mr. Kauko Niemela, Mr. Ilppo Alatalo, and Ms. Jutta Kannisto of RISE, The Criminal Sanctions Agency of Finland. They welcomed me to their office, displaying presentations explaining how the agency has operated in the past and innovations that will be implemented for the future. This included proposals to locate new prisons where they are easily linked to amenities such as colleges and healthcare, rather than rurally, which would lessen the financial burden on the prison by allowing clients to use existing facilities.

In the United States, when an inmate is sentenced to prison, especially female inmates due to the fewer number of facilities, they may be located hundreds of miles from home, sometimes in different states, where it is impossible to receive visits. In Finland, there are laws in place that prohibit this; clients, as they refer to inmates, are located in facilities close to home to serve their sentence, an average which is 11 months but varies depending on the offense.

A first time offender in Finland is required to serve half of their sentence because the Criminal Sanctions Agency believes in second chances and that rehabilitation is possible, Mr. Niemela explained to me. The United States, on the other hand, has in place mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug related crimes which have resulted in an 800% increase in female inmates since 1977.

I am now headed back to RISE to observe a presentation for the proposed female facility in Hameenlinna; the existing facility I will be visiting tomorrow.



In just two days, I will be leaving for Finland, Sweden, and Norway to tour prisons through the opportunity of the John Worthington Ames Scholarship from the Boston Architectural College! I am very excited and honored to visit the Criminal Sanctions Agency in Helsinki where they have extended to myself as well as my colleague Kirsten Soderlund their warmest welcomes and offered us tours, lunch dates, and interviews of their carceral facilities. Following Finland, we will travel to Stockholm, then Gothenburg, Sweden where we will meet with various prison groups including the Kriminalvården, Region Väst, touring several prison facilities. And finally, I will tour Halden Prison in Norway and meet with the warden of the facility. Please stay tuned for our upcoming posts, pictures, and experiences of both the prison systems and the culture/architecture of Finland, Sweden, and Norway.