Vertical Garden

The Greenhouse Project : Local Production For Correctional Institutions

The future of production lies in digitisation and automation. Recently developed production techniques bring new opportunities for local production. Additive manufacturing will lead to new applications and lower tooling costs of individually customised parts and products. The growing customer demand for quality, speed and flexibility play an important role in this. Local production enables customization and with the use of locally available (recycled) materials. In this project, I explored how these technologies can be deployed to develop a product that is meaningful, aesthetically attractive, ecologically durable and with a positive impact on society.  Correctional facilities are stressful environments experienced by millions of people everyday. Yet designers rarely take these environments into consideration. I believe that it makes sense to apply a local production-systems to a disadvantaged and marginalised context such as this one, rather than to other contexts which are already bubbling with activities. The aim of this project is to improve the psychological and physical conditions in prison through the use of Additive Manufacturing for prototyping and producing the design elements of a vertical garden structure. The resulting vertical garden and the process of prototyping and producing the garden will both have therapeutic benefits for the offenders and could possibly reduce recidivism.



In order to maintain a clear sightline and prevent inmates from hiding among the plants. The design should consider the possibility for the staff to observe unit dynamics. The horizontal development of the design suggests a more prosperous landscape-like view. The inclined layers allowed the structure to collect the rainwater and avoid energy waste. In order to absorb the maximum energy from sunlight during the photosynthesis process, when plants trap light energy with their leaves.




During workshops in additive manufacturing and prototyping, inmates learn the technical skills needed to produce the garden elements. They are encouraged to implement their theoretical knowledge and construct a real prototype, produced by 3D printers. During the actual building of the vertical garden, inmates are encouraged to collaborate. They can learn from each other in a cooperative atmosphere that they might not often experience in the usually stressful and psychologically challenging environment of the prison. The acquired technological skills and experience with cooperation and gardening could be helpful when, after leaving prison, the former inmates try to find a job. (Not in the last place since additive manufacturing is an important growth sector.) In this way, the programme may reduce recidivism.

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In general the outdoor recreational courtyard area of a prison looks very simple and austere; fences, concrete pathways and a lack of vegetation or 'natural landscape'. I propose to improve this outdoor area, by adding a vertical garden, so that it becomes a green, therapeutic and restorative place. The elements needed to build the vertical garden are produced locally (in prison) by means of additive manufacturing by the inmates themselves.


During the semester themed The Future is Local we visited important players in the industrial field such as FestoBrightlands Materials Center: Additive ManufacturingPhillips and Smart Robotics and used their knowledge and facilities in order to support our design projects. On 21 June 2018 we presented at Festo BV in Delft the designs projects that explore and apply the benefits of local production technology to become meaningful products.