Student competition to design Community Justice Centre; $5K in prizes

The Canadian Academy of Architecture for Justice (CAAJ) invites architecture students from around the world to speculate on issues regarding social unrest, systematic racism, discrimination, and violent protests in a design competition for a new Community Justice Centre.Society’s standard institutions and approaches to justice are currently being challenged, according to the organization. The CAAJ states that the present court system—with long waits for trials, high rates of recidivism, harsh sentences for minor infractions, failure to rehabilitate offenders, and the overrepresentation of certain racial groups—is one of the potential sites for reform.

New models are evolving that rethink how the criminal justice system operates. These models require a commensurate evolution in building typology that serves and symbolizes these changes, while positively enhancing the connection between justice and community.

One example of this new typology is the Community Justice Centre. Community Justice Centres (CJCs) move justice away from the rigid hierarchy of the traditional courthouse into a more informal community setting. CJCs bring together justice, health and social services for vulnerable accused people and their communities, in order to provide a holistic, fair and integrated approach to the judicial process.

“CJCs improve outcomes by applying restorative approaches to justice that focus on addressing the root causes of the crime, repairing the harm caused to victims and the community, helping to break the cycle of offending and improving community safety,” says the CAAJ.

Submissions are welcomed from either studio groups or individuals. The design will be evaluated by a jury of justice experts, architects and industry professionals. Participants are encouraged to explore a wide spectrum of architectural responses from functional and practical at one end to philosophical and social at the other—including ways in which this building could be integrated into the community and act as a catalyst for building a positive relationship between the justice centre and the community it serves.

There is no fee to enter, but candidates are asked to register on the CAAJ’s website. Submissions are due June 15, 2021. A first prize of $3,000 CDN will be awarded, along with second and third prizes of $1,000 CDN each.

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