Sustainability is one of the biggest buzz words of the decade and most would associate it with having a low impact on the natural environment by: burning fewer fossil fuels; producing less waste and responsibly sourcing our meals.
However, within the built environment it means so much more. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Sustainable Outcomes Guide outlines eight aspects of sustainability that professionals and students in the industry should be aiming to achieve. One of these outcomes is Good Health and Well-being which is explained as the requirement to design spaces that are inclusive and universally accessible.
Inclusive design covers a vast array of disabilities. In 2018 So & So Studio designed a home for a blind client in Thiene, Italy. The house is arranged around a “single central corridor spine” to minimise the client becoming lost in a “maze” of corridors. This spine connects the two main spaces in the house, the kitchen and the bedroom and has the three entrance/exits, the spare bedroom and the bathroom located along it.
Materiality became hugely important in the design of the home as they designed a set of movement rules into the floor of the house. The alphabet was built into the floor using texture stone
tile, which contrasted against the smother wooden finish when walked over. In this way the client could confidently move around her home without assistance. From final details such as room thresholds being removed to eradicate trip hazards, to the increased use of architectural models to convey the design to the client through touch in the ideation stages, each and every aspect of design had to be rethought.
This way of designing creates no negative effects to those without disability. It’s therefore important for future generations of architects and designers to understand the principles of inclusive design and work them into their everyday work. You never know the status of everyone who will be experiencing your design, so design to include as many people as possible.
By: James Monteith, First Year Architecture and Environmental Engineering student
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