The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow a single watchman to observe (­opticon) all (pan­) inmates of an institution without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly. The name is also a reference to Panoptes from Greek mythology; he was a giant with a hundred eyes and thus was known to be a very effective watchman.


“But the Panopticon was also a laboratory; it could be used as a machine to carry out experiments, to alter behavior, to train or correct individuals. To experiment with medicines and monitor their effects. To try out different punishments on prisoners, according to their crimes and character, and to seek the most effective ones…

FearGirl/Panopticon/Conceptual World by DMFO
FearGirl/Panopticon/Conceptual World by DMFO

As opposed to the ruined prisons, littered with mechanisms of torture, to be seen in Piranese’s engravings, the Panopticon presents a cruel, ingenious cage… But the Panopticon must not be understood as a dream building: it is the diagram of a mechanism of power, reduced to its ideal form…”

-Michel Foucalt DISCIPLINE & PUNISH 1977

ARCOLOGY: a portmanteau of “architecture” and “ecology“, is a vision of architectural design principles for very densely populated habitats. wikipedia