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

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