Design for Inclusion

‘What happens if, rather than seeing disability as a problem that architecture is expected to solve, we ask basic questions about how diverse human bodies actually occupy built space. Can disability − and ability − help us think more explicitly about habitation, how we envisage a ‘typical’ user and what impacts buildings have on their many and varied occupants?

‘Contemporary geography, anthropology, phenomenology, science and technology, are looking at exactly this issue. Many argue that everyday life is less about our thoughts and feelings about the buildings and urban space we occupy, and more about doing − how we enact the ongoing intersections between our bodies, artefacts and spaces. ‘Doing’ entangles the personal and the social, the conceptual and the practical: it is the repeated performance and contestation of so-called ‘normal’ routines.

‘For the able, the work involved in repeatedly accomplishing such a routine is mainly invisible. Their experiences of built space are generally frictionless, but for disabled people the processes of everyday life − getting dressed, going out, shopping etc − may take varying amounts and types of effort; leading to a careful attentiveness which is itself an expertise. Disabled people often don’t fit with the commonsense assumptions that underpin the “normal” everyday, unnoticed, ways of doing things…

As Koolhaas has said: “I don’t think it should be a building that challenges people to live better; rather it should have a direct effect on the people who use it.”‘

Source: Architectural review.

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