Amazon has an office in a former prison in the Netherlands

Amazon Web Services debuted a new office space in Haarlem, Netherlands in 2022, but there’s one unusual thing about it, which has gained traction on social media this week: the office is inside a former prison.

Prison de Koepel, or “The Haarlem Dome Prison,” opened in 1901 and closed in 2016. Following its closure, De Koepel was briefly used as a shelter space for Syrian migrants seeking asylum status.

Amazon uses space on the third floor of de Koepel, where prison cells have been converted into office spaces, and communal desks are available for individuals. On Thursday, an Amazon employee posted a tour of the space to TikTok on Thursday, and it was re-posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday.

The video shows a few former prison cells, with the AWS logo plastered just above the cell numbers. The TikTok user says that the cells, complete with office furniture and chairs, function as meeting rooms.

“Talk about vendor lock-in…” she notes in the text overlay.

The comments and re-posts often noted the irony of Amazon having an office in a former prison. There has been widespread reporting about how Amazon warehouse workers and delivery drivers are overworked, surveilled, and underpaid — at times peeing in bottles in order to meet quotas.

The prison is a dome-shaped building, with multiple stories of prison cells facing the central space. It strongly resembles the panopticon-style prison — intended to make prisoners not know if they’re being watched or not. (Unlike a true panopticon, De Koepel’s watchtower appears to have been to the side, rather than in the center of the dome.)

The use of a panopticon-style building is also notable, as Amazon has been criticized for perpetuating surveillance through its Ring home security cameras and its constant data collection on other products like Alexa. Earlier this year, Amazon had to pay $30 million in two separate suits, in which the Federal Trade Commission charged the company with privacy violations. Court documents from one of those suits revealed several unreported incidents of Ring workers spying on customers.

Cupola XS, which manages the new office spaces in de Koepel, also hosts banking and investment companies, including Rabobank, ROM InWest, and BCNL (also known as Blockchain Netherlands). Other parts of the former prison include a cafe, spaces for guided tours, and study spaces for students.

Representatives for Amazon, Cupola XS, and de Koepel did not immediately return requests for comment.

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The post Amazon has an office in a former prison in the Netherlands appeared first on Business Insider.

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