Sustainable Apartments – Nightingale Housing

Architectural solution to sustainable, affordable and community-focused living in Melbourne, Jeremy McLeod of Breathe Architecture presents the Nightingale model. 

Between urban compression and urban sprawl, Jeremy suggests an architecture of reduction, which provides moderation of these housing models. Using architecture as a catalyst to engage and generate interaction, Nightingale supports communication and community. Jeremy also explains how they side-stepped the property developer control of design and put it back in the hands of architects.

Through a triple bottom line approach – financial return, sustainable and liveable, Jeremy’s vision provides a universal design approach to the housing product.

Watch Jeremy’s TEDxStKilda talk below:

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Universal design for apparel products

Picture of a rack of dresses in all kinds of fabric designsHow can clothing design be inclusive and allow individual expression at the same time? Design for many, design for me: Universal design for apparel products reports on a study examining just that question. The article begins with an explanation and application of UD principles and then provides two case studies. Slow Design and Thoughtful Consumption enter the discussion as well as the concept of co-design. It is good to see clothing design joining the UD movement.

Abstract:  This study examined the potential of universal design in the field of apparel. The particular purpose of the study was to explore the use of the concept and principles of universal design as guidance for developing innovative design solutions that accommodate ‘inclusivity’ while maintaining ‘individuality’ regarding the wearer’s aesthetic tastes and functional needs. To verify the applicability of universal design in apparel products, two case studies of design practice were conducted, and the principles of universal design were evaluated through practical applications. This study suggests that universal design provides an effective framework for the apparel design process to achieve flexible and versatile outcomes. However, due to product proximity to the wearer, modification of the original definition and principles of universal design must be considered in applications for apparel design.

You can see another article on this topic.

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Designing for a Multi-generational Workforce

Multi-generational workforce depicted through an office meetingThe generation gap is shrinking fast. No longer is it the case of the seasoned employee mentoring younger colleagues. Younger and older employees are now sharing knowledge and skills with each other. Joe Flynn points out in a White Paper that for the first time, our workforce consists of four generations of employees working alongside each another. With an ageing population and later retirement age, Flynn argues our workplaces need to be designed for greater demographic and gender diversity.

Joe Flynn is a workplace strategist with Margulies Perruzzi Architects. His white paper, The Multigenerational Workforce and its impact on Workplace Design, presents seven design principles:

  1. Abandon uniformity
  2. Design for flexibility
  3. Respect the past. Design for the future
  4. Focus on culture, not trend
  5. Plan with technology
  6. Remember ergonomics
  7. Design for a healthy office

Each of these points is explained in the paper.

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Gender-neutral bathrooms: A challenge to design around the code

Gender inclusive bathroom by Elizabeth FelicellaGender-neutral bathrooms have sparked many public debates in the US, however, in Australia, this is still a fairly new concept.  We are familiar with unisex accessible sanitary facilities that provide a space that allows carers and users of any gender.  Yet, the public services’ push towards gender neutral bathrooms to foster inclusiveness of transgender and intersex employees are causing debate in its Canberra buildings.

“We absolutely know it’s necessary to do it and to do it well,” Tim Bavinton, executive director of ACT Sexual Health and Family Planning told Fairfax Media. “But any change in a work environment requires the opportunity for people to understand why the change is necessary, and to address any issues of concern that they may raise.”

The National Construction Codes in Australia only recognises the provision of male and female sanitary compartments.  Perhaps universal design will provide the solution that architects are looking for: “Because public bathrooms need to be designated male or female, it forces transgender and nonconforming individuals to choose between the two, sometimes leading them into uncomfortable or unsafe situations. The code leaves architects with a choice, too: take the easy route and design single and multi-occupancy bathrooms labeled “male” or “female,” or design around the code–the latter of which often takes more creativity and resources.”

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Upgrading existing buildings

Front cover of the handbook with a purple background and pictures of buildings in a narrow band across the front.The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has produced a new handbook, Upgrading Existing Buildings Handbook. The Preface introduces the document as “one of a series produced by the ABCB … in response to comments and concerns expressed by government, industry and the community that relate to the built environment…on areas of existing regulation or relate to topics which have, for a variety of reasons, been deemed inappropriate for regulation. The aim of the Handbooks is to provide construction industry participants with non-mandatory advice and guidance on specific topics, specifically, buildings classified as Class 2 to 9 in Part A3 of NCC, Volume One”. This is a 47 page document.

Importantly, this handbook outlines a five-step process for scoping proposed new work in existing buildings, with a very strong emphasis at step four to determine whether potential deficiencies are actual deficiencies – i.e. the building does not meet a performance requirement of the National Construction Code. The takeaway message is that Performance Solutions may be the only practical solution to address actual deficiencies, and this is where a Universal Design approach will be most beneficial.

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Missing Middle – Medium Density Housing

Housing affordability within Australian cities is resulting in greater levels of multigenerational living.  Increasingly, developers are responding to this market by designing “houses with flexibility, a universal design for all ages,” Makoto Ochiai, Sekisui House.

In NSW, a draft Medium Density Design Guide has been developed to encourage supply of housing between apartment and free-standing dwellings.  Read more from the NSW Minister for Planning, Housing and Special Minister of State, the Hon. Anthony Roberts MP.

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Apple leading innovation in usability

Jordyn Castor, blind engineer at AppleA leader in standardarising accessibility functions over specialised accessibility is Apple. Their products are recognised as being easy to use with intuitive functionality. With organisational values such as “inclusion inspires innovation”, the experience of engineers like Jordyn Castor provides a personal perspective when designing for usability. Born 15 weeks early, Jorydn beat the odds and being blind from birth doesn’t stop her from some masterful coding. 

In the Mashable Australia article, Castor says her own success – and her career – hinges on two things: technology and Braille. That may sound strange to many people, even to some who are blind and visually impaired. Braille and new tech are often depicted as at odds with one another, with Braille literacy rates decreasing as the presence of tech increases.

But many activists argue that Braille literacy is the key to employment and stable livelihood for blind individuals. With more than 70% of blind people lacking employment, the majority of those who are employed — an estimated 80% — have something in common: They read Braille. For Castor, Braille is crucial to her innovative work at Apple — and she insists tech is complementary to Braille, not a replacement. “I use a Braille display every time I write a piece of code,” she says. “Braille allows me to know what the code feels like.”

This blind Apple engineer is transforming the tech world at only 22

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