Saf[h]er spaces: Piccadilly Gardens & Reformatory

Building upon my fifth-year dissertation, this project aims to investigate how spatial redesign can affect our behaviour to create gender equitable, safer public spaces within the geographical scope of Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester. The project focuses on those who are marginalised (including women, POC, and the LGBTQIA+ community, as they are subjected daily to harassment in public spaces) as well as the perpetrators of the harassment.

My scheme, therefore, has a multi-faceted approach: the first being a redesign of the public space as an updated return to the sunken gardens. The updates lie in the focus on accessibility, clear views across site, and lighting. The second is installing small ‘light-touch’ buildings across the site; with 24/7 operation and non-alcoholic programmes, they allow for continuous eyes-on-the-street as well as a place where refuge can be sought. The final is the sub-terranean reformatory to house and rehabilitate offenders of sexual harassment, assault, and other gender-based violence.

The reformatory balances a restorative justice (RJ) programme with elements of discomfort. The focus on RJ aims to maintain the humanisation of the reformees (unlike other prisons); and the discomfort element serves as an empathic tool and an incentive to want to develop themselves and leave. The RJ programme includes various forms of therapy to encourage self-reflection and development, including individual therapy, empathetic therapy (VR, group therapy, communication with those they affected), hobby therapy (working out, cooking, creating art and music, gardening), and faith therapy. The reformees can display and/or sell their hobby therapy efforts in the gallery, where the public are invited in. The public spaces within the reformatory are where the discomfort element starts to be introduced; the threshold between public and private are lined with glass, providing the public to watch the reformers, both in the therapy areas, and the residences below.