growingchange teams with MIT students to flip a prison in north carolina

growingchange teams with MIT students to flip a prison in north carolina

north carolina-based nonprofit growingchange and a group of MIT students transform decommissioned prison sites into sustainable agriculture and community hubs. the two plan to convert former work camp prisons to feature spaces for lectures, meetings, outdoor activities, cooking and growing produce.

the former group barracks is converted to a large space that can be used for meetings, lectures, classrooms or a dining hall



growingchange teamed with MIT architecture and planning students to address the legacy of small, decommissioned, work camp prisons scattered throughout the US rural landscape. originally operated by the department of transportation, the prisons that forced inmates to build roads and other infrastructure projects of the state are now being closed and prisoners are being consolidated into new larger facilities. the goal of the project is to flip these sites into hubs where communities can work together to counter a legacy of incarceration by providing clinical support, education, and vocational training as a means to divert youth from the criminal justice.

working with previously incarcerated youth, growingchange and ‘group project’, a student group from MIT, are designing and building the first campus renovation in wagram, north carolina. ‘group project’ is a collaborative between alex bodkin, john fechtel, stephanie lee, milan outlaw, and joey swerdlin.

prison buildings are inherently inward facing – new porch next to the community kitchen reclaims outdoor space for eating and lounging

large glass openings connect the exterior courtyard to the kitchen—the heart of the campus—and invite visitors inside to watch chefs prepare healthy food, using ingredients grown on the campus

the entrance of the museum and conference space is lively with greenery and activity

centered on healthy, local food, the community kitchen building will be the heart of the campus – this building will also host administrative offices

the new adventure tower’s four sides are divided between a rappelling wall, an entrance wall, and two climbing walls

the upper platform offers a larger and higher space with views over the whole site

the hearth’s oversized roof provides shading and lots of space to cook, chat, and chill

a colorful illustration showing different type of planting throughout the growing change campus

map showing the open (grey x) and decommissioned (black x) prisons in north carolina – the wagram prison is marked with a red x



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: sofia lekka angelopoulou | designboom

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    492,671 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample