Could You Survive These Sci-Fi Prisons?

24 Apr 202429:55

TLDRThe video explores the concept of psychological control through architectural design in five different sci-fi movies. It delves into how these films use architecture not just as a setting but as a narrative device to manipulate the characters' minds. Starting with 'Cube,' a film where characters navigate a deadly maze of interconnected rooms, the video draws parallels with real-world architecture like Jean Nouvel's Institut Du Monde Arab. It discusses the budget constraints leading to innovative set design and the philosophical implications of inaction versus action. Moving on to 'The Platform,' it examines the social commentary on class and resource distribution through the film's unique dining system. The video also touches on 'Minority Report,' 'NARKINA 5,' 'THX 1138,' and the Marine County Civic Center, highlighting the interplay between design, efficiency, and the dehumanization of inmates. It concludes by reflecting on the potential future of prison design and the ethical considerations of such innovations.


  • 📏 **Architectural Control**: The video discusses how architecture in sci-fi movies can be used as a tool for psychological control, creating a 'prison in the mind'.
  • 🟨 **Cube (1997)**: A Canadian sci-fi film where characters navigate a deadly maze of interconnected cubes, with parallels drawn to Jean Nouvel’s Institut Du Monde Arab for its intricate design.
  • 💰 **Budget Constraints**: 'Cube' was made on a low budget, using a single room set and color changes to represent different cubes, highlighting the importance of narrative over budget.
  • ⚙️ **Kinetic Structures**: The video touches on kinetic architecture, like the rotating rooms in 'Cube', and compares them to real-world examples such as the proposed rotating tower in Dubai.
  • 🧱 **The Platform (2019)**: Explores a dystopian future where people are stratified by food access in a vertical prison, with the rectangle-shaped cells creating tension between inmates.
  • 🤔 **Responsibility and Survival**: A philosophical discussion on human nature and our tendency to act and make sense of our surroundings, even when inaction might be safer.
  • 🧮 **Mathematical Logic**: 'Cube' is noted for its underlying mathematical logic that governs the behavior of the prison, contrasting with the perceived chaos.
  • 🔮 **Minority Report (2002)**: Examines a futuristic prison system where inmates are kept in a dream state, with their bodies stored efficiently, questioning the ethics of such a system.
  • 🌐 **Andor's NARKINA 5**: Presents a prison with extreme efficiency, where inmates' lives are optimized for productivity, and the design prevents escape and rebellion.
  • 🛠️ **Prefabrication and Labor**: The modular design of the prison cells in NARKINA 5 allows for quick and efficient construction, with inmates used as a free labor force.
  • 🏛️ **THX 1138 (1971)**: George Lucas's film is mentioned as an example of a society controlled through surveillance and sedation, rather than physical confinement.

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 as a narrative device to control and psychologically impact the characters within the prisons, effectively creating a prison in the mind.

  • What is the significance of the 'Cube' movie in the context of architectural control?

    -The 'Cube' movie is significant because it uses the architecture itself as a narrative device, where the characters are trapped in a maze-like structure of interconnected cubes, some of which are deadly, forcing them to navigate and survive within this controlled environment.

  • How does the movie 'Cube' relate to Jean Nouvel’s Institut Du Monde Arab in terms of architectural design?

    -The movie 'Cube' shares visual similarities with Jean Nouvel’s Institut Du Monde Arab, particularly in the panelized grid system and structural bracing that allows for three-dimensional movement, reminiscent of the intricate apertures and mashrabiyas facade that regulate light and heat in the Institut.

  • What is the primary function of the Plexiglas panels in the 'Cube'?

    -In the 'Cube', the Plexiglas panels are not used for regulating natural light but serve another interesting function, which is to create a sense of transparency and entrapment, contributing to the psychological control within the prison.

  • How was the budget constraint in 'Cube' addressed in the movie's set design?

    -The budget constraint was addressed by building just one room for the set and changing the colors to give the illusion of multiple cubes. This creative solution allowed the filmmakers to imply a larger, complex structure with a limited budget.

  • What is the connection between the kinetic structure in the 'Cube' and architectural projects like the rotating tower in Dubai?

    -The connection lies in the concept of kinetic architecture, where structures move and change shape. While the 'Cube' is a fictional example with deadly consequences, the rotating tower in Dubai was a proposed project that aimed to give occupants different views by rotating the floors around a central core.

  • What is the philosophical implication of the ending in 'Cube'?

    -The philosophical implication is that sometimes inaction is more effective than action. The characters believe they need to actively escape, but they discover that by staying put, the cube rearranges itself, allowing them to escape without harm, highlighting the human tendency to act and the complexity of reason versus randomness.

  • How does the architecture in the movie 'The Platform' contribute to the story's narrative?

    -The architecture in 'The Platform' is a narrative device that illustrates the stark social hierarchy and survival struggles within the prison. The platform carrying food descends through the levels of the tower, with those at the top consuming more, leading to scarcity and conflict as it descends.

  • What is the significance of the rectangular shape of the cells in 'The Platform'?

    -The rectangular shape of the cells in 'The Platform' creates a spatial dynamic that fosters tension between the two inmates within each cell. This design choice enhances the story's exploration of human relationships and the psychological impact of the prison environment.

  • How does the use of CGI in 'The Platform' reflect the movie's themes?

    -The use of CGI to extend the tower in 'The Platform' demonstrates how a logical set of rules or constraints can create a believable world without the need for extensive visual effects. It reflects the movie's themes of perception, reality, and the power of narrative within confined spaces.

  • What is the role of the precogs in the movie 'Minority Report'?

    -In 'Minority Report', precogs are psychics used to predict crimes before they occur. This system of pre-crime is central to the story, as it raises questions about the ethics of using such a system and the potential flaws that can arise from relying on it.

  • How does the prison in 'Minority Report' differ from traditional prisons in terms of its function and design?

    -The prison in 'Minority Report' differs by keeping inmates in a lucid dream state, serving as an efficient storage space for their bodies while their minds are actively engaged in predicting crimes. It represents a shift from physical punishment to mental engagement and the potential for mind-body separation in futuristic incarceration.



🎬 Sci-Fi Movies and Architectural Control

The video script begins by discussing the influence of architecture on psychological control within prisons. It explores how five different sci-fi movies use architectural strategies to create mental prisons. The first movie highlighted is 'Cube,' a cult classic where characters navigate a deadly maze of interconnected cubes. The script draws parallels between the film's setting and real-world architecture, such as Jean Nouvel’s Institut Du Monde Arab in Paris, noting similarities in design and function. The narrative also touches on the challenges of creating kinetic architecture and the potential for such structures to regulate natural light and heat.


🏢 The Impact of Architectural Space on Human Behavior

The second paragraph delves into the psychological effects of architectural space, using the movie 'The Platform' as an example. It discusses how the allocation of resources within the movie's vertical prison structure creates a brutal hierarchy and how this reflects in human behavior. The script also compares the rectangle-shaped cells to a Pixar office story, emphasizing the influence of space design on social dynamics. It further explores the minimalist and efficient design of the Creator 16 AI Studio laptop from MSI, which is used to render architectural models and assets in the video production process.


🚶‍♂️ The Effects of Endless Space on Human Psyche

The third paragraph examines the psychological impact of vast, repetitive, and infinite spaces, as depicted in 'The Platform' and mirrored in Peter Eisenman's memorial for the murdered Jews of Berlin. It discusses how such environments can lead to a loss of humanity and the rapid descent into evil behavior. The paragraph also explores the concept of responsibility and its role in maintaining civilization, particularly in environments devoid of social constructs.


🛠️ Futuristic Incarceration and Mind-Body Separation

The fourth paragraph discusses the concept of pre-crime and punishment in 'Minority Report,' where inmates are kept in a dream state while their bodies are stored efficiently. It explores the idea of separating the mind from the body as a means of imprisonment and the potential benefits and ethical considerations of such a system. The paragraph also touches on the economic aspects of rehabilitation versus punishment in the context of prison systems.


🏭 The Efficiency and Resource Optimization in Prison Design

The fifth paragraph focuses on the Imperial Security Detention Facility from the show 'Andor,' highlighting its extreme efficiency and resource optimization. It describes the facility's design, which includes interlocking cells, integrated utilities, and a manufacturing cycle that uses inmates as labor. The script also compares the prison's modular design to modern, efficient architectural structures like airplane cabins and modular hospital rooms.


🌐 The Panopticon Metaphor and Modern Society

The sixth paragraph references Michel Foucault's concept of the Panopticon as a metaphor for modern society's surveillance and control. It discusses the society in 'THX 1138' as a dystopian example of this concept, where citizens are controlled through drugs and surveillance. The script also contrasts the open spaces of the movie's setting with the oppressive nature of the society, highlighting the use of non-places to strip individuals of their sense of self.


🛏️ Compact Modular Prison Design and Its Downfall

The seventh paragraph examines the compact and modular design of the cells in the Imperial Security Detention Facility, noting their similarities to modern, efficient designs in other industries. It discusses the potential cost benefits and the cynical aspect of using inmate labor for construction. The paragraph also points out the downfall of such design, where the sense of camaraderie among inmates can lead to collective action against the prison authorities.


🤝 Camaraderie Among Inmates and Its Impact on Prison Control

The eighth paragraph emphasizes the design flaw in the Imperial Security Detention Facility, where the compacting of inmates and shared activities inadvertently foster camaraderie and communication. This design oversight ultimately leads to the inmates' successful overthrow of the prison guards, demonstrating the power of unity against oppressive systems.


🔄 The Cycle of Inmate Labor in Prison Module Production

The ninth paragraph discusses the process of inmates assembling modules for more prisons, creating a continuous cycle of free labor. It describes the compact design of the sleeping quarters and the integration of technology into the architecture. The paragraph also highlights the potential for this efficient design to be its own downfall due to the increased sense of isolation it may cause among prisoners.


🛁 Shared Spaces and the Rise of Inmate Solidarity

The final paragraph of the script details the shared shower room and the rapid daily routine of the inmates, emphasizing the efficiency of the prison's design. It discusses the compact and modular sleeping arrangements and the use of embedded technology within the cells. The paragraph also explores the potential reasons behind the choice for such an expensive design and the possibility that the extreme efficiency of the design could be its greatest weakness.



💡Architectural Control

Architectural control refers to the strategic design of spaces to influence human behavior. In the video, it is discussed how sci-fi prisons use architecture not only to physically contain people but also to exert psychological control, creating a 'prison in the mind.' This concept is central to the video's exploration of how environments can be manipulated to govern human actions and responses.

💡Cube (Movie)

Cube is a sci-fi movie from the nineties where characters wake up inside a deadly maze of interconnected rooms, or 'cubes.' It serves as an example of how a narrative can be driven by architectural design. The movie's cube system is a metaphor for complex and deadly architectural control, where the characters must navigate a space that is as much a trap as it is a setting.

💡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 cube structure in the movie 'Cube.' The building's facade features mashrabiyas, a traditional Islamic architectural element that regulates light and heat through intricate apertures, symbolizing a connection between cultural expression and functional design.

💡Kinetic Structure

A kinetic structure is an architectural element or entire building that has the ability to move. The video discusses kinetic structures in relation to the rotating rooms in the movie 'Cube' and a proposed rotating tower in Dubai. These structures serve to illustrate the idea that architecture can be dynamic and interactive, moving and changing to create different experiences and perceptions.

💡The Platform (Movie)

The Platform is a movie where a vertical panopticon serves as a prison, with a platform carrying food descending through the levels. The architecture here is used to create a hierarchy and survival struggle among inmates, reflecting on social inequality and human nature when faced with scarcity. It's a narrative device that explores the psychological impact of architectural space on human behavior.

💡Pre-crime (Minority Report)

Pre-crime is a concept from the movie 'Minority Report,' where psychics predict future crimes, allowing law enforcement to arrest individuals before they commit an offense. The video uses this as an example of how sci-fi narratives can explore the ethical implications of advanced surveillance and predictive technologies, and their potential impact on personal freedom and privacy.


The panopticon is a design concept for a prison where a central watchtower allows guards to observe all inmates without being seen. It's mentioned in the context of the Imperial Security Detention Facility in 'Andor,' embodying the idea of constant surveillance as a form of control. The video discusses how this concept is realized in various sci-fi prison settings to illustrate the power dynamics and psychological effects of omnipresent observation.

💡Efficiency in Design

Efficiency in design is highlighted in the context of the prison in 'Andor,' where every aspect of the prison's operation is streamlined for maximum productivity, from the cells' design to the inmates' daily routines. The video points out how this efficiency can also be a form of control, as it minimizes waste and maximizes output, but at the cost of human dignity and individuality.

💡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 discuss the concept of a society that appears open and free but is, in reality, highly controlled and regulated. It serves as an example of how architecture and societal norms can be used to subtly enforce compliance and suppress individuality.


Non-places are spaces that lack identity, history, or emotional attachment, which can lead to a loss of self-identity. The video refers to the open white spaces in 'THX 1138' as examples of non-places, which are devoid of character and designed to strip individuals of their personal connections and sense of self, reinforcing the control exerted by the state.

💡Foucault's Panopticon Metaphor

Michel Foucault's metaphor of the panopticon is discussed in relation to modern society's surveillance and control mechanisms. The video suggests that the concept extends beyond physical architecture to include societal structures that encourage self-surveillance and compliance, often under the guise of safety, efficiency, or the common good.


The video explores the concept of control through architecture in five different sci-fi movies.

The movie 'Cube' is a Canadian film where strangers wake up in a deadly maze of interconnected cubes.

Architecture in 'Cube' serves as a narrative device, with a grid system and structural bracing allowing three-dimensional movement.

The 'Cube' movie set was innovatively created on a low budget, using a single room and color changes to represent multiple cubes.

The film 'The Platform' presents a concrete tower with a platform carrying food from the top to the bottom, creating a social hierarchy based on the level of the inmates.

In 'The Platform', the rectangular shape of the rooms creates tension between inmates, influencing their interactions.

The Creator 16 AI Studio laptop from MSI is highlighted for its powerful performance in rendering and AI image generation.

The concept of separating the body and mind is explored in the context of futuristic imprisonment, as seen in 'Altered Carbon' and 'Black Mirror'.

Efficiency and optimization of resources are key themes in the Imperial Security Detention Facility in 'Andor', with cells designed for minimal maintenance.

The use of inmates as free labor to build more prison modules in 'NARKINA 5' creates a twisted cycle of endless construction.

In 'THX 1138', an underground society is controlled through mandatory drug use, suppressing emotions and treating people as numbers.

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

The concept of 'non-places' in 'THX 1138' strips individuals of their sense of self, confronting the emptiness of existence.

The video discusses the philosophical implications of inaction versus action in the context of human behavior and the designed environment.

The movie 'Inception' is referenced for its use of logic and rules to create a believable world with minimal visual effects.

The importance of responsibility and its role in maintaining civilization is debated in the dialogue from 'The Platform'.

The video concludes with a reflection on the efficiency of prison design and the potential for inmate rebellion due to the compact design.