An imposing building interrupts the dense Arab fabric of Graziella district on the island of Ortigia (Syracuse): the seat of the former Bourbon prison. Bentham’s Panopticon inspired its shape, but the final form was somewhat altered by local customs, in accordance with Bourbon reforms. As learned from archival and unpublished sources and following detailed geometric and material surveys carried out by integrating traditional and innovative techniques, in the centre of the courtyard, a Panoptic chapel was designed for religious purposes. The prisoners could so participate in the sacred ceremonies that were hypothesized to facilitate their repentance and social rehabilitation. Based on the study of morphological and system construction evolution, this work aims at highlighting the building’s important historical significance. It also intends to formulate a proposal for a new function, which sees in the creation of a "museum of prisons and Bourbon domination in Sicily" a way of cultural promotion.
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