A brand new hospitality concept. A low cost essential housing module, conceived, designed and made and in jail with inmates. A proposal, a product, an exhibition featuring a different idea for temporary and social housing, spread hotels, hostels.

Can design act as a mean for social innovation? Can it provide answers to new emerging needs? In other words, can it be played as a freedom tool?

Freedom room is a project developed by Aldo Cibic, Tommaso Corà, Marco Tortoioli Ricci in collaboration with one of the Italian High Security Prisons, Spoleto’s correctional facility. Comodo – a cooperative- has started since 2003 its education activities in that prison, dedicated to inmates’ professional training in design, grapichs and publishing.

Comodo and Cibic Workshop started to work together in 2009 in order to identify and analyse the opportunities provided by design to improve work inside prisons.

Working with a group of inmates they came up with new ideas about “low cost living”; about objects that have to be necessarily multifunctional; about spaces that must be flexible and adaptable. A cell is a closed shell, defined as a spatial module. For its inhabitants such space has to be a kitchen, a room, an office, a playroom, a closet, a gym, a library, and much more all at the same time. A place that is continuously reinvented by those who live inside it. A “module” where a stool becomes an oven, a bed becomes a closet, a can becomes an antenna, a table becomes a gym. Inside the cell, one finds out that space necessarily has a flexible dimension that changes according to how it is experienced by each individual.

Many of the furnitures found in the Italian prisons come from a big carpentry located inside Spoleto’s correctional facility. Working together with the prison’s inmates, Aldo Cibic, Tommaso Corà and Marco Tortoioli Ricci have discovered that most of the items produced there become something else inside a prison cell. Space itself becomes something else. Living under restraint has led many inmates in Italian prisons, out of necessity, to reinvent the space in their cells as well as the way they use many of the items inside. That’s how Freedom Room project was born. The inmates working in Spoleto’s carpentry have become the project’s consultants. Their contribution has led to the idea of a more liveable space, conceived to be compact and functional, able to meet new needs while keeping the original cell’s size (4 x 2.7 meters).
A brand new essential and economic housing module has aroused from this work, a proposal/product for innovative temporary or permanent solutions, spread hotels, student facilities, hostels. A room that becomes a place designed to use the space at its best, for working, studying, living, enjoying. But also a room that becomes a tool for urban renovation in abandoned areas. Freedom room modules can be used inside industrial, commercial, non-commercial and urban areas fallen in disuse, pushing new social dynamics and re-shaping communities and neighbourhoods.

Freedom Room could be imagined also as a starting point to imagine new Italian prisons’ cells, or as a low cost hotel room or a spread youth hostel, or even as the answer to new low cost housing demands.

Freedom Room could also be a new local social network idea, a new way of accessing, booking, or otherwise relating to find out by whom and how the modules are occupied, letting you know your module’s neighbour and its habits, building up a virtual and a real community. Facing the actual crisis, prisons can be intended as a potential for new ideas and examples for innovation, social cohesion and renovation.

The first Freedom Room Prototype will be shown at Milano Triennale during the “Salone del Mobile” and a special conference will be held Thursday, April 11, at 5 P.M. with project’s testimonials.