Could You Survive These Sci-Fi Prisons?

24 Apr 202429:55

TLDRThis video script explores the psychological and physical control mechanisms inherent in various science fiction prison settings. It discusses five different sci-fi movies, analyzing how architectural strategies are used to exert control over prisoners. Starting with the cult classic 'Cube,' the script draws parallels to real-world architecture like Jean Nouvel's Institut Du Monde Arab. It then delves into other films, such as 'The Platform,' 'Minority Report,' and 'NARKINA 5,' highlighting the use of space and design to manipulate human behavior. The narrative also touches on the societal implications of such control, referencing Foucault's Panopticon concept and its modern interpretation. The script concludes by reflecting on the potential future of imprisonment, where mind and body could be separated, offering a new perspective on rehabilitation and punishment.


  • 🎬 The movie 'Cube' uses architecture as a narrative device to control characters both physically and psychologically.
  • 🏛️ Architectural similarities can be drawn between the 'Cube' and Jean Nouvel’s Institut Du Monde Arab, particularly in their grid systems and facades.
  • 💡 The concept of kinetic architecture in 'Cube', where the structure moves like clockwork, is an interesting contrast to static buildings.
  • 📊 Budget constraints in 'Cube' led to innovative set design, using a single room and color changes to represent multiple cubes.
  • 🤖 In 'Cube', the architecture is designed to be accessed in three dimensions, which is a unique concept with few real-world examples.
  • 🌐 The 'Rotating Tower' in Dubai was an example of a kinetic structure that was canceled due to structural and mechanical challenges.
  • 🧐 The possibility of an architect unknowingly contributing to a harmful project is plausible due to the specialization within the field.
  • 🔁 The philosophical aspect of 'Cube' suggests that sometimes inaction can be more effective than action, as the characters could have escaped without moving.
  • 🍽️ In 'The Platform', the architecture serves as a narrative device, with a focus on the dynamics influenced by food distribution and scarcity.
  • 👥 The rectangular cells in 'The Platform' are designed to create tension between inmates, highlighting the impact of space on human relationships.
  • 🚀 'Minority Report' explores the concept of pre-crime and the use of psychics, with a prison system that stores bodies while keeping minds active in a dream state.

Q & A

  • What is the main theme of the video regarding sci-fi prisons?

    -The main theme of the video is the exploration of how architecture in sci-fi movies is used to control and psychologically impact the inmates, creating a 'prison in the mind.'

  • Which Canadian movie from the nineties is mentioned in the video as an example of a narrative device using architecture?

    -The movie 'Cube' is mentioned as an example where the architecture itself is a narrative device.

  • What is the name of the cultural center in Paris that shares visual similarities with the setting of the movie 'Cube'?

    -The Jean Nouvel’s Institut Du Monde Arab is the cultural center in Paris that shares visual similarities with the setting of 'Cube'.

  • How does the movie 'Cube' utilize its low budget to create the illusion of multiple cubes?

    -The movie 'Cube' used its low budget by building just one room for their set and changing the colors to give the illusion of multiple cubes.

  • What is the term used in the video to describe the concept of separating the body from the mind?

    -The term used to describe the concept of separating the body from the mind is 'sleeve'.

  • What is the significance of the rotating tower proposal in Dubai mentioned in the video?

    -The rotating tower proposal in Dubai is significant as an example of a kinetic building where the spaces themselves are moving, which is a concept also explored in the movie 'Cube'.

  • How does the architecture in the movie 'The Platform' affect the dynamics between inmates?

    -In 'The Platform', the rectangular shape of the concrete rooms creates tension between the two inmates, and the random monthly assignment to different levels transforms the dynamic between them.

  • What is the psychological impact of the endless pit in the architecture of the prison in the video?

    -The endless pit creates a sense of overwhelming, repetitiveness, and infinity, which can lead to feelings of insignificance and loss of humanity among the characters.

  • How does the video relate the concept of responsibility in the context of the prison in 'The Platform'?

    -The video discusses a dialogue where responsibility is shifted between characters, highlighting how a sense of responsibility is crucial for maintaining civilization, but can quickly disappear in an environment of scarcity and extreme hierarchy.

  • What is the significance of the Marine County Civic Center by Frank Lloyd Wright in the context of the video?

    -The Marine County Civic Center, a symbol of democratic values and public engagement, is ironically used as a backdrop for a totalitarian regime in the movie THX 1138, which the video discusses.

  • How does the video describe the concept of 'non-places' in relation to the society depicted in THX 1138?

    -The video describes 'non-places' as spaces devoid of identity, history, or emotional attachment, which in the context of THX 1138, strip individuals of their sense of self and force them to confront the emptiness of their existence.

  • What is the cynical aspect of the prison design in NARKINA 5 mentioned in the video?

    -The cynical aspect is the extreme efficiency of the design, which allows for mass production of prison modules using inmates as free labor, creating an endless cycle of prison construction.



🏛️ Architectural Control in Sci-Fi Movies

This paragraph introduces the topic of how architecture can be used as a means of psychological control in prisons, as depicted in science fiction movies. The speaker expresses a desire to delve deeper into the subject, mentioning the movie 'Cube' as an example of a film that uses architectural strategies to create a mental prison.


📏 'Cube': Architecture as a Narrative Device

The speaker discusses the movie 'Cube', a Canadian film from the nineties, where characters wake up in a maze-like structure of lethal and interconnected cubes. The architecture serves as a narrative device, and the speaker draws parallels with Jean Nouvel’s Institut Du Monde Arab in Paris, noting visual and functional similarities. The budget constraints of the movie led to creative set design, and the speaker also touches on kinetic architecture and its potential.


🤔 The Specialization of Architects and the 'Cube'

The paragraph explores the possibility of an architect being disconnected from the implications of their work, using the context of the 'Cube' movie. It discusses the specialization within the architecture profession and the emotional impact of working on projects that may have ethically questionable outcomes. The speaker also highlights the philosophical aspects of the movie, where inaction proves to be a powerful alternative to the characters' frantic attempts to escape.


🏢 The Impact of Space on Human Behavior

The speaker examines the psychological effects of architectural design, using the example of the movie 'The Platform'. The movie showcases a concrete tower where food is delivered via a platform, highlighting the stark differences in human behavior based on the level of the tower they inhabit. The paragraph also discusses the influence of space design on social dynamics, referencing Ed Catmull's experiences at Pixar and the impact of table shape on communication.


🧠 'Minority Report': Storing Minds, Not Bodies

The paragraph delves into the concept of separating the mind from the body as a form of imprisonment, as seen in 'Minority Report'. The speaker describes the prison where inmates' bodies are kept in a dream state while their minds are active, exploring the ethical and practical implications of such a system. The potential benefits and dystopian nature of this concept are debated, considering its use in rehabilitation and the cost of imprisonment.


🚀 'Andor': A High-Tech, Efficient Prison

The speaker discusses the Imperial Security Detention Facility from the show 'Andor', focusing on its design that maximizes efficiency and optimization of resources. The facility is situated on a water-covered planet, using the vast ocean as a natural deterrent to escape. The paragraph details the daily routines and the design of the cells, which lack doors and integrate various features into the walls for safety and ease of maintenance.


🛠️ 'THX 1138': The Dystopian Society of Compelled Compliance

The paragraph explores the society depicted in George Lucas's 'THX 1138', where the state controls its citizens through mandatory drug use to suppress emotions. The speaker reflects on the implications of such a society, where people are reduced to numbers and the concept of free will is diminished. The discussion touches on the relevance of Michel Foucault's Panopticon metaphor in the context of modern surveillance and the trade-offs between freedom and the perceived safety of a controlled society.


🔄 The Cynical Efficiency of 'North Korea 5'

The speaker describes the design and operation of 'North Korea 5', a prison where inmates are used as free labor to assemble modules for more prisons, creating a continuous cycle of construction. The paragraph highlights the compact, prefabricated design of the modules, which are efficient but also lead to a downfall due to the sense of camaraderie they inadvertently foster among inmates.


🤝 The Downside of Camaraderie in Prison Design

The final paragraph discusses the unintended consequences of designing prisons to maximize space and efficiency. Despite the compact design and the use of technology to prevent escape and rebellion, the sense of camaraderie that develops among inmates due to shared experiences and work can lead to unity and collective action, as evidenced by the inmates' overthrow of the prison guards.



💡Prison Architecture

Prison architecture refers to the design and planning of buildings and spaces intended for incarceration. In the video, it is discussed in the context of science fiction, where the architecture is not only a physical structure but also a psychological tool used to control and manipulate inmates. The video explores how different sci-fi prisons use architectural strategies to exert control over the inmates, creating a prison within the mind.

💡Cube (Movie)

Cube is a Canadian science fiction film from the 1990s where strangers find themselves trapped within a maze-like structure made of deadly and shifting cubic rooms. It serves as an example of how architecture can be a narrative device, with the movie's plot revolving around the characters' attempts to escape the maze. The video draws parallels between the movie's setting and real-world architectural structures, highlighting the psychological impact of the Cube's design.

💡Institut Du Monde Arab

The Institut Du Monde Arab is a cultural center in Paris designed by Jean Nouvel. It is mentioned in the video for its visual similarities to the setting of the movie Cube. The center's facade features mashrabiyas, a traditional Islamic architectural element that regulates light and heat, which is likened to the structural bracing and movement within the Cube's environment. The video suggests that the Cube's design could have been inspired by such real-world architecture.

💡Kinetic Structure

A kinetic structure is a type of architecture that involves moving parts. In the context of the video, the Cube from the movie is described as a kinetic structure because it moves and functions like a clock, with its panels opening and closing to regulate access. The video also mentions a proposed rotating tower in Dubai as an example of a kinetic building, where the movement of the structure is central to its design and function.

💡The Platform (Movie)

The Platform is a Spanish science fiction-horror film where inmates are kept in a vertical prison and food is distributed via a platform that descends through the levels. The movie is used in the video to illustrate the concept of architectural control through scarcity and hierarchy. The video discusses how the rectangular shape of the cells and the dynamic of the platform's movement create tension and affect the inmates' behavior.


The panopticon is a concept for a prison designed by Jeremy Bentham, where a central watchman can observe all inmates without them being able to tell if they are being watched. In the video, it is mentioned in relation to the Imperial Security Detention Facility from the show Andor, which is described as a high-tech, ideal version of the panopticon, with surveillance mechanisms integrated into the architecture for efficient control.

💡Efficiency in Prison Design

The video discusses the concept of efficiency in prison design, particularly in the context of the Imperial Security Detention Facility. It highlights how the design minimizes costs and maximizes control through the use of prefabricated modules, compact living spaces, and integrated features. However, the video also points out that this efficiency can lead to a downfall, as the design inadvertently fosters camaraderie among inmates, which can lead to uprisings.

💡THX 1138

THX 1138 is a film by George Lucas that presents a dystopian society where individuals are controlled through drugs and surveillance. The video uses this film to explore the idea of a society that appears open and free but is actually highly controlled, drawing parallels with the concept of the panopticon and the use of non-places to strip individuals of their sense of self.


Non-places are spaces that lack significant human interaction, history, or emotional connection. In the video, the concept is used to describe environments in the film THX 1138 and other sci-fi prisons, where the design of the space contributes to a sense of isolation and dehumanization. The video suggests that these non-places force individuals to confront the emptiness of their existence within the controlled society.

💡Foucault's Panopticon Metaphor

The video references Michel Foucault's use of the panopticon as a metaphor for modern society's control mechanisms, which are not based on force but on surveillance. The society in THX 1138 is presented as an example of this metaphor, where compliance is achieved through voluntary submission to the pretense of safety and the common good, reflecting on the increase in surveillance in recent years.

💡Marine County Civic Center

The Marine County Civic Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is mentioned in the video as an example of democratic architecture that was ironically used as a backdrop for a totalitarian regime in the film THX 1138. The center's design principles, which include blending government and public functions and harmonizing with the natural world, contrast sharply with the film's dystopian society, raising questions about the use and perception of architectural spaces.


The video explores the psychological control of prisoners through architectural design in sci-fi movies.

The movie 'Cube' is a Canadian film where characters navigate a deadly maze of interconnected rooms.

Architectural similarities are drawn between 'Cube' and Jean Nouvel’s Institut Du Monde Arab.

The film's budget constraints led to innovative set design, using a single room with color changes to represent multiple cubes.

Kinetic structures in architecture, like the rotating tower in Dubai, are compared to the moving elements in 'Cube'.

The psychological impact of endless and repetitive spaces is discussed using Peter Eisenman's memorial as an example.

Responsibility and its loss in extreme environments are debated in the context of survival.

The movie 'The Platform' is analyzed for its commentary on social hierarchy and resource distribution.

The use of CGI to extend the tower in 'The Platform' demonstrates the power of logical world-building on a budget.

The importance of space design on human interaction is highlighted with examples from Ed Catmull and Pixar.

MSI Creator 16 AI Studio laptop is used for rendering and modeling in the video production process.

The concept of pre-crime and its ethical implications are discussed in the context of 'Minority Report'.

The idea of separating the body and mind for incarceration is presented as a potential future of prison systems.

The Imperial Security Detention Facility in 'Andor' is praised for its extreme efficiency and optimization of resources.

The use of inmates as free labor in the production of prison modules is a dark commentary on the cycle of incarceration.

The societal control through surveillance is reflected upon using the example of THX 1138's totalitarian society.

The Marine County Civic Center by Frank Lloyd Wright, symbolizing democratic values, is ironically used as a backdrop for a dystopian regime.

The concept of 'non-places' and their effect on the individual's sense of self is explored in the context of modern architecture.