Silver Winner 2022 – Prisoners’ Apothecarts - Architecture Collection
Silver Winner of the Architecture & Design Collection Awards 2022

Prisoners' Apothecarts

Pop-ups and Temporary Architecture Built
Professional Category

Architect / Designer:

Albert & Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design

Design Team:

Collaborators: Solitary Gardens The Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design at Tulane School of Architecture Resurrection after Exoneration Samara School of Community Herbalism Design/Build Team: • Emilie Taylor Welty (professor) • Nick Jenisch (project manager) • Elizabeth Bateman • Jeremy Baudy • Anna Deeg • Claire Divito • Rebecca Dunn • Adrian Evans • Danelle Martin • Danielle Scheeringa • Bhumika Shirole • Zach Speroni • James Rennert • Dana Ridenour Support: • Johnson Controls, Inc. • Tulane University’s Community Engaged Learning and Teaching program • Skatelite


Jose Cotto


United States
The Prisoners’ Apothecarts, or apothecary carts, are a series of mobile herbal medicine carts that advocate for prison reforms and make healing justice visible and accessible across the City of New Orleans. The Apothecarts challenge us to imagine a landscape without prisons. There are 2.2 million incarcerated people in the United States, and of those around 90,000 are subjected to indefinite solitary confinement every day. The devastating and often irreparable effects of solitary confinement include, but are not limited to, alienation, dehumanization, despair, disorientation, paranoia, and suicidal ideation. The Apothecarts transform plants into medicine for communities most deeply impacted by the insidious reach of mass incarceration. Natural medicine, tea, tinctures, steams, and salves are created in conversation (written letters) with people in solitary confinement across the US. As the medicine is designed by folks who are incarcerated and distributed to affected communities, incarcerated individuals thereby have a unique opportunity to heal the communities they are often accused of harming. The Apothecarts were designed and built by a group of architecture students. Their work is part of an ongoing effort to expand design access across our community, foster a collaborative design process, and prepare a new generation of architects to create a more just world. This academic studio pairs a team of architecture students with a local non-profit to program, design, and fabricate a project that models design excellence and best practices in community engagement. This research is action-based and includes interviews, area expert teach-ins, observation, and surveys as part of the project design phase. That research then guides design options presented to a core group of stakeholders who participate in a multi-stage feedback loop resulting in a final built project, or in this case two small, built, bike-towed carts. The Apothecarts project works at the intersection of design, social justice, and abolition and shows the potential of design to impact complex social issues.

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