The new Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) complex will open today for its first court hearing, and this €140 million complex boasts 22 technology-bolstered court rooms, additional 450 rooms, underground holding area for up to 100 prisoners (with their own entrances into each court room), separate areas of access for the judiciary and the members of the public, dedicated victim-support facility complete with suites for witnesses and victims of crimes, and also a playroom for child witnesses.
What caught my interest is the architecture side of this building. This 11-storeys building (I know, doesn’t seem like it from the photo above, thanks to the clever positions of 3 rows of large glass panels) is circular, earning it the nickname of Pantheon. For any unaware passerby, it could easily pass for a corporate building; even a modern opera house. The interior is sleek, and its open central space gives this sense of a breathing space, which I can imagine many would need given the stress involved in a judicial process. The human circulation system is such that facilitate mobility of the suspects, judges, juries and witnesses while protecting their privacy at the same time. No pictures as yet that I can find on the interior of the individual courtrooms, but the children playroom is calming with circular motives in coordinated splashes of colours.
What do you think of the building? Is the cost justified given the facilities in place to better provide security and privacy to all who uses the building for one reason or another? (It is about €30 million over the budget stated on the website of the architect company involved, Henry J Lyons, but it’s also delivered ahead of schedule.)
On a side note, for a country of just over 4 million people in population, and knowing that the justice system processes some 400,000 criminal matters per year, the rate is rather alarming to me. I don’t know if this kind of rate is “normal” by any stretch, but I certainly have heard of a lot of thefts and robberies lately that perhaps I shouldn’t be this shocked over it…?