Monday, November 6, 2017

Inside Amsterdam's abandoned 'humane' prison

The Bijlmerbajes prison complex in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was built as a 'humane prison' and opened in 1978. Situated close to the Amsterdam Amstel railway station, it consists of six high-rise buildings, each operating as a separate prison. The buildings are joined by a 260-meter (850-foot) long tunnel called the ''Kalverstraat'.

Besides the six towers there are also six external areas (one for each tower), three gymnasiums or sport-centres, a small religious building functioning as church and mosque. A central front building houses some central functions such as the kitchen, visitor reception rooms, the entry processing department and the offices.

Being a 'humane prison' the windows didn't have bars at first. However, it turns out the glass wasn't unbreakable, so bars were retroactively fitted. On each tower, measuring 14 stories high, each two floors operate as a different department, connected via open stairs. Two large lifts were used by the prisoners only and a special small lift was available for staff. Each prison department would accommodate different types of prisoners: repeated offenders, drug addicts, prisoners with psychological problems, prisoners for light crimes etc. 

The Bijlmerbajes prison shut down in June 2016. It was one of the several prisons that have closed in the Netherlands during the last years due to the country's low crime rate and short prison sentences. The prison however remained empty only for a short time. As of 2017 it is being used to house refugees seeking asylum while it also operates as a cultural hub for locals. Meanwhile, there are already plans to transform the former prison to a new neighborhood powered by renewable energy and built largely from recycled materials.

SEE ALSO: More abandoned prisons around the world // More abandoned places in the Netherlands // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES
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