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Prisoners design Freedom Room low-cost micro-living module


April 25, 2013

Freedom Room is seen as a viable modular low-cost living space, suitable for implementation in hotels, student facilities, and hostels

Freedom Room is seen as a viable modular low-cost living space, suitable for implementation in hotels, student facilities, and hostels

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Located within Spoleto’s high security prison is an inmate carpentry workshop which produces furniture for other prisons throughout Italy. Artist collective Cibic Workshop joined forces with co-operative organization Comodo in order to task these talented carpenters with the creation of Freedom Room: a flexible and low-cost micro-living module concept that could be employed as a tiny dwelling, social housing solution, hostel, or perhaps even a more comfortable prison cell.

The project was initially conceived by Aldo Cibic, Tommaso Corà, and Marco Tortoioli Ricci, of the Cibic Workshop. The trio joined forces with Comodo – a company which has experience teaching useful skills to Italian prisoners – and set about harnessing the ingenuity displayed by prison inmates in maximizing the potential of their less-than-spacious living quarters.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then Spoleto's residents have ample cause to think outside the box. Their 4 x 2.7 meter (roughly 13 x 8 ft) cells serve as kitchen, office, closet, gym, library, and anything else required. The inmates were consulted throughout the design process for ideas on how best to produce furniture which can serve multiple functions.

Freedom Room features innovative space-saving furnishings, including a sliding-door closet with integrated worktop, a bed which becomes a closet, and a table that can be used as a rudimentary gym. In addition, a toilet and shower were also included in the cramped space (most Italian prison cells do not contain a shower).

The team envisions Freedom Room as viable for implementation in hotels, student facilities, hostels, and even industrial and commercial areas. A more comfortable prison cell was also cited as an eventual goal for the project. Regardless of what it eventually becomes, the physical footprint of the Spoleto cell will be retained.

The endeavor appears to be in its infancy at present, and beyond its particularly small size, it’s not yet clear exactly what sets Freedom Room apart functionally from similar existing designs like the House Arc.

An early prototype unit of the Freedom Room was unveiled at this year’s Milan Design Week.

Source: Freedom Room

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

I wish our prisoners in the US were able to do something more useful since we have so many of them.

I'm not entirely sure I support letting them leave prisons with masters degrees paid for by the government but I see no reason they can't work in manufacturing or practice a trade in prison.

Right now instead of learning to be better laborers they learn how to be better criminals.


It makes sense to let them get an education, since most of them don't have any marketable skills to begin with, and they'll need them to get a job when they're released.

Freyr Gunnar

Just add outside walls and a roof and one has a tiny house. I think that is really cool.

Perhaps they could be stacked and made into a dorm or housing for single people or perhaps in a long stay hotel? It has a lot of potential.

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