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PI Ter Apel


A Percent for Art ruling has been applied to new Government buildings in the Netherlands since 1951, and was used in prisons for the first time in 1994. Four artists were appointed through public advertisement in 1996 and commissioned to make works for a new prison at Ter Apel. The purpose of the commissions was to bring individuality to three identical cell blocks and to humanise the prison environment. The project was managed by a team comprising the architect, the prison governor and a visual art adviser from the Government Architect’s Department. The artists and architect collaborated in a process of exchange, and their feedback records an extremely successful project.

The artists took account of the special security and safety issues of prisons in the design and materials they used. Anne Semler and Jolande Traa made floor designs, Liet Heringa and Maarten van Kalsbeek as a team made eleven blue vegetable-like hanging sculptures, and Wout Berger made 10 huge photographs for the communal areas of the prison. The artists also chose the colour schemes for the paintwork of their cell blocks. Their artists’ statements were reproduced in a glossy leaflet for the project launch.