Site: Sant Esteve Sesrovires, Barcelona
Use: Administrative

Building a prison is building a closed world, as were the abbeys, fortresses, monasteries, or the ancient acropolis. Life passes here without freedom and relations are conditioned by control.
There is a parallelism between the spaces of a prison and a city since we find: squares, streets, and façades. The uses, however, are not the same: the square is not a meeting place, but of classification; the street is not a space of communication, but of separation; the façade does not have a sense of interior/exterior relation, only of reclusion.

The protagonists of these spaces are closed walls, passages, stairs, drops and shadows. These elements must be combined in order to achieve a certain variety and to be able to escape from monotony: to create irregular forms, gestures, changes in alignment that make them richer and give more meaning to a street without its usual attributes such as windows or balconies.

It involves creating a city with an unspoilt terrain, attending to reflections on geographic and scenic order, achieving good implantation and integration, as well as a programmatic order, an aspect of great complexity in which questions of control and security are keynote.

We were able to summarize the program in three clearly differentiated zones. The external zone, outside the walls, which contains the administrative services, is situated in the higher part of the site. Having passed the wall, we come to a mixed zone where the inmates are classified and where they have contact with the outside world: family and lawyers´ visits. From here we go to the internal zone: modules of residence, hospital, sports center, and leisure areas, structured from a main street, which is the main axis of the center. A series of elements (slopes, stairs, projections and turns) provide validity to façades without windows and help achieve an effect of perspective.

Image of the entrance of Can Brians penitentiary brick ceramic facade and main tower

Sketch by Manuel Brullet Tenas of can brains courtyard
Site plan Sketch of Can brains Penitentiary in Sant Esteve Sesrovires Barcelona
Can brains Penitentiary Floor Plan by Brulletdeluna Architecture Firm
Can brains Penitentiary Longitudinal Section by Brullet de luna Architecture
Can brains Penitentiary Longitudinal Section
Can brains Penitentiary Longitudinal Section
Can brains Penitentiary Longitudinal Section
Can brains Penitentiary Elevation

Project Name: Can Brians Penitentiary Centre
Site: Sant Esteve Sesrovires, Barcelona
Use: Administrative, Penitentiary
Project date: 1986
Construction end date: 1991
Property: Justice Department – Generalitat de Catalunya
Land area: – m²
Floor area: – m²
Finalist, FAD Architecture Awards 1991
Finalist, Mies Van der Rohe European Award 1992 (link)

Authors: Manel Brullet i Tenas, Francesc Rius i Camps, Josep Mª Gil i Guitart, Esteve Bonell i Costa
Contributors: Alfonso de Luna, Moisès Aguilar Christine Aubry, Contxita Balcells, Jordi Barba, Carles Francesc, Fidela Frutos, Montse Garcia, Julieta Guardiola, Emma Idrach, Felix Khun, Miquel Lacasta, Josep Llobet, Desiree Mas, Jaume Ratera, Josep Sanmartín, Jaume Valor
Surveyors: Joan Rivas, Pere Rius, Enric Rego
Facilities: Jesús Castillo, Josep Granell, CIATSA
Structure: Robert Brufau, Manuel Arguijo, AREINSA
Builder: Cubiertas i MZOV
Photographer:Hisao Suzuki
Publications: (link)