Custom Rockfon ceiling systems and wall solutions play a substantial role in the overall design, elevating the well-being of inmates and staff while adhering to strict security requirements.  

A Village-Inspired Prison Layout  

Situated on a 15-hectare plot, the Prison Haren site houses two detention centres, a men’s penitentiary, open and closed prisons for women, a youth institution, a forensic psychiatric centre, a facility for limited detention, and various other facilities.  

As part of the prison design, the community building is laid out like a town hall and the cluster buildings that contain the prison cells resemble multi-family homes. All the buildings are interconnected by a central square, enabling convenient movement between the different areas of the complex. 

By embracing such a village-style layout, Prison Haren cultivates a sense of community and nurtures social connections among both staff and inmates. It serves as a modern replacement for the outdated prisons in Brussels; namely Sint-Gillis, Vorst, and Berkendael. 

Product Challenges and Needs in Prison Design 

In the prison’s design, the ceilings of the common areas – a total of approximately 9000 m2 – were initially fitted with hard mineral panels. The Belgian Buildings Agency and the Federal Public Service Justice (FPS Justice) needed an alternative system that would not allow for any manipulations by the inmates for security reasons.  

It was crucial that there is no space between the profiles and ceiling panels to prevent prisoners from hiding prohibited items in the plenum. At the same time, it had to remain accessible for maintenance and intervention parties. These two conflicting challenges required a tailor-made solution.  

The Buildings Agency collaborated with architecture firms EGM and B2Ai to develop the specifications for the prison project. A solution was devised for the ceilings based on these specifications and in collaboration with B2Ai, the contractor Denys NV, and the installer Mommaert. Along with security, fire safety and well-being criteria were all central to the acoustic design strategy. 

“We presented various mock-ups in our training centre in Wijnegem in Belgium so that FPS Justice could see and feel in detail whether the system fully met their requirements,” says Florence van Knippenbergh, Technical Specialist at Rockfon.  

Based on the mock-ups, the spaces were divided into guarded and unguarded zones.

Together, we succeeded in developing a new innovative system. It has already garnered interest for use across several other prisons in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Fabrice Alen

Area Sales Manager at Rockfon

Acoustic Solutions for Prison Design and Architecture  

The acoustic ceiling panels Rockfon Pallas formed the foundation of the ceiling system in both the guarded and unguarded areas of the prison corridors.  

Ultimately, a customised solution was used with as many standard profiles and accessories as possible.  

The suspension heights were limited in some zones, and the assembly sequence was adjusted accordingly. Galvanized steel, longitudinal and transverse profiles were used to fix the panels, and the locking profiles were custom-made for the project. 

A securing system was also devised for the lighting. To grant maintenance and intervention parties access to the technology in the plenum, secured inspection hatches were built at strategic places. 

Standard Rockfon ceiling and wall systems were also installed across the correctional complex: 

  • Over 400 m2 of Rockfon Mono Acoustic were installed in the courtrooms.
  • Rockfon Facett panels were affixed to the architectural ceiling in the stairwells.
  • Rockfon VertiQ wall panels were installed in the sports complex.

A Model for Correctional Facility Design  

The customised acoustic ceiling solution at Prison Haren supports the security needs while providing excellent acoustic performance.  

FPS Justice ultimately increased the ceiling systems awarded to Rockfon from the initial 9000 m2 to 38 000 m2. Given the scale, Sunny House became involved in the installation process as a second contractor. 

“Together, we succeeded in developing a new innovative system. It has already garnered interest for use across several other prisons in Belgium and the Netherlands,” said Alen. “Psychiatric institutions and schools have also exhibited interest in the system, which is unsurprising given that the security features are relevant to such environments.” 

By creating a secure and comfortable environment supported with acoustic comfort, the prison’s interior design and architecture aspire to establish a new benchmark for indoor environmental quality in correctional facilities. 

Location:Haren, Belgium
Architect:EGM architecten i.s.m. B2Ai
Installer:Mommart, Sunnyhouse en SGM -Afbouw
Photographer:Regie der Gebouwen, Régine Mahaux
Tiles:Rockfon Mono® Acoustic, Rockfon VertiQ® wall panel

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