|■_ In Berkeley, CA, Kurani designed an educational space that gives men an alternative to prison.|
|■_ Kurani worked with the Reset Foundation to create a supportive, rehabilitative experience.|
|■_ The campus allows men to get an education, learn skills, receive therapy, and find good jobs.|
The experience of going to prison in the US is a painful and shameful one, often marked by punishment instead of rehabilitation.
Several years ago, Kurani partnered with a Berkeley, CA nonprofit, the Reset Foundation, to imagine a completely different experience. Instead of locking up men who were sentenced to prison, what would a space look like if it focused on fully rehabilitating them?
In the US alone, approximately two million people are incarcerated in prisons, jails, and other detention centers. Often, these sentences are for misdemeanor offenses, which still end up on the person’s record and make employment, education, and achieving a stable life much more difficult.
And when people get out, a lack of training and preparation for re-entering society often leads them to reoffend. Within three years of release, 50% of people are arrested and go back to prison.
Reset is a campus for men ages 18-24 who were sentenced to prison. But instead of going through the prison system, Reset allows them to work toward their high school diploma, pursue internships, receive job-skills training, talk with a therapist, and get social and emotional support with their peer group. It’s the complete opposite experience of being locked up.
“Architecture is a tool—one that can be used for good or evil,” Kurani’s founder and chief designer, Danish Kurani, told Architect Magazine. “We need to make the conscious decision about whether we are using this tool for good or ill.”
Through its design, layout, tools, and technology, the Reset campus tells young men, “You still deserve a chance at a better life.”
How Reset was designed
Kurani designed the Reset campus with a holistic support system in mind.
As Michael Caton wrote for Architect Magazine, the campus is “a conceptual inversion of typical carceral space; it fosters a sense of agency and community among its residents, who feel cared for, nurtured, and valued despite their misdeeds.”
All this takes place in a revitalized 5,000-square-foot warehouse, where men begin the day with a morning social circle and, throughout the day, can meet with mentors and peers, lounge and socialize, do research in the library, tend to the community garden, meet with potential employers for job interviews, and receive therapy.
These opportunities add up to an experience that puts a sense of control back into men’s hands. Instead of being designed to ostracize and minimize freedoms, as prisons often are, Reset was designed to lift men’s spirits and give them tools for a fresh start.
Reset’s campus is a vote for reimagining ways to create more equity in society, and help everyone make the most of their circumstances. It’s a vote for using architecture for good.