Designing with Indigenous Australians in mind is good for everyone. We know that having level access into a building is essential for some but good for all. It’s the same for many types of design. For example, smartphone apps designed for people who are blind have advantages for everyone. When it comes to designing hospitals, Indigenous Australians are often left out of the picture.
An article in The Conversation draws our attention to the need to have separate waiting rooms, specifically designed for indigenous patients. This is because they often leave emergency rooms without receiving treatment. But does that mean non-indigenous patients feel comfortable in waiting rooms? Probably not – we all feel uncomfortable and anxious in hospitals. And that’s not good for our health! The article explains design features to improve hospital design. The research is by Timothy O’Rourke and Daphne Nash from University of Queensland.
We shape our building and thereon, they shape us is an oft quoted Churchill saying. I wonder if he knew how much they also shape our health and well-being. Koen Steemers’ articleon this topic outlines the definition of wellbeing and health and the implications for architecture. He also provides “rules of thumb” for design based on extensive research. Steemers acknowledges there is no one-size-fits all for healthy design. So the aim is to optimise every aspect wherever possible. It is interesting to note that he puts accessible housing into the list as a must. Architecture for well-being and health is a very comprehensive and readable guide for the built environment professions.
“Whether people are healthy or not, is determined by their circumstances and environment. To a large extent, factors such as where we live, the state of our environment, genetics, our income and education level, and our relationships with friends and family all have considerable impacts on health …” World Health Organization: The determinants of health.
People with reduced mobility and vision are considered most often in articles related to articles on inclusive design. More recently people with neurodiverse conditions are taking headlines. But what about people who are deaf? Including captioning and Auslan interpreters at events and on screens is more commonplace, so what else do they need? The Washington Post has an interesting feature on Deaf Architecture. Here is an excerpt from the article:
“Dougherty gave me an example of spatial awareness differences between the hearing and the deaf. He mentioned how, to him, a hearing dinner seems so formal, with people firmly stationed at square tables. By contrast, during a deaf dinner, people are continually in motion, switching seats to touch one another or communicate directly with someone across the table. “For me,” Dougherty signed, “a deaf space is a multisensory experience. It’s not just what does it look like at face value. What is the experience of being deaf once I go through the door? What is the experience of me getting through the foyer? To the staircase? What’s the lighting like? What’s the material being used in the building?” An interesting a readable article with nice pics.
Designing public space is seen as something for trained professionals. But the Placemaking Toolkit shows how community groups and residents can do their own place make-over. The Guide is for community-driven, low-cost public space transformation. With the support of local government anyone can change a neglected space in their neighbourhood into a clean and safe play area or park. This Guide is especially relevant for developing countries and remote communities in any country. The Guide is from the Public Space Network.
How smart can a smart city be? ‘Smart’ is everything from the footpath to the website. So not so smart if it doesn’t include everyone and join the dots between all the factors that make a city a city. With digital transformations happening worldwide, the aim of the Smart Cities for All Toolkit is to eliminate the digital divide and improve urban environments for everyone. In the video below, James Thurston talks about the issues cities are facing.
The main part of the toolkit, the Inclusive Innovation Playbook, is detailed and aimed at a policy and planning level. Stakeholder participation and inclusion is an essential theme. Case studies assist with understanding. There is a helpful checklist at the end of the Playbook. There’s a lot to digest, but this means it isn’t a cursory overview with simplistic solutions. It goes much deeper than a digital accessibility checklist. This is about joining the dots across city assets and leveraging them for everyone’s benefit. Other sections of the toolkit cover:
Guide to adopting an ICT accessibility procurement policy
Implementing priority ICT accessibility standards
Communicating the case for stronger commitment to digital inclusion in cities
Database of solutions for digital inclusion in cities
“The toolkit supports a range of organizations and roles related to Smart Cities, including government managers, policy makers, IT professionals, disability advocates, procurement officials, technology suppliers, and developers who design Smart City apps and solutions.
Each of the tools addresses a priority challenge identified by global experts as a barrier to the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons in Smart Cities.” See also Smart Cities for All: A Vision.
James Thurston of 3Gict discusses the issues in the video below.
A sense of belonging is an aspect of universal design not often discussed. However, when it comes to including people with autism in plans and designs, it’s a very important element. Ohio State University has developed a guide which covers urban design, retail, parks, campuses and more. It’s got everything in detail. It is underpinned with the six feelings framework:
1. Feel connected – because they are easily reached, entered, and/or lead to destinations. 2. Feel free – because they offer relative autonomy and the desired spectrum of independence. 3. Feel clear – because they make sense and do not confuse. 4. Feel private – because they offer boundaries and provides retreat. 5. Feel safe – because they diminish the risk of being injured. 6. Feel calm – because they mitigate physical sensory issues associated with autism.
The guide is based on extensive research and it is recommended that:
♦ City and regional planners activity accommodates people with autism in their public involvement process. ♦ City and regional planners implement autism standards building on this 1.0 attempt into their zoning and design guidelines, and consider policy changes. ♦ Professionals in affiliated fields who have concern over the public realm test, retest, and improve the ideas in this toolkit. ♦ Civil engineers retrofit infrastructure around the Six Feelings Framework. ♦ Real estate developers who are designing master planned communities consider the Six Feelings Framework in their plans.
There are more articles on designing with autism in mind on this website. Use the search facility on the left hand menu.
Pedestrian death rates are rising. What’s the cause? Is it smartphones or road design and drivers? Or is it both? Australian figures show the older generation is a big part of the fatality toll. But they are not likely to be looking as smartphones as they walk. So road and street design need another look. The American Society of Landscape Architects has an excellent guide on neighbourhoods and street design. Safe intersections, wider footpaths, accessible transportation, multi-sensory wayfinding, legible signage, and connected green spaces are just some of the features addressed in the guide. City of Sydney gets a mention (see picture above) about a larger signage system that helps pedestrians calculate walking times within the city.
An architectural triumph that fails its patrons. If ever there was an example of how not to design a public library, this has to be it. All because the architects failed to check with any user groups. The architects still maintain the issues are just “wrinkles” in the design, not flaws. However, bookshelves lay empty, bleacher seating is sealed off for safety reasons, baby strollers block the walkways, and that doesn’t include the issues for people with disability – patrons and staff alike. Clearly they thought the ADA was nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, the building offers wonderful views. The article is from the New York Times, New Library is a $41.5 Million Masterpiece. But About Those Stairs. It explains the issues in more detail and has more pictures. There is also a news video from Spectrum Newswith the story. A salutary lesson in remembering function as well as form in design.
The difference between inclusive design and accessibility is discussed by the Design Council in an article published in a special edition of World Architecturemagazine. Catherine Howill and Elli Thomas explain how inclusive design works better for everyone. However, achieving this in the building industry has its challenges. “It requires a significant systematic and cultural shift.”
They argue for leadership from the top and commitment to change from the bottom. Collectively this can set up a framework and formal mechanisms to guide industry and also develop practitioner skillsets. The social and economic arguments are included together with thoughts on outcomes and next steps. The article includes a graphic of the Ladder of Participation.
Abstract: The essay advocates for the building industry to go beyond meeting accessibility requirements and instead focus on an inclusive approach to designing places, arguing that Inclusive environments work better for everyone and are essential if we are to create a fair society and a sustainable future. Through the lens of a UK context – the article examines the legal, systematic and policy changes already in place and discuss next steps to ensuring widespread industry and practitioner uptake.
Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access – IDeA, advocates for socially responsible design to be standard practice. IDeA claim that adoption of UD has been hindered by a lack of detailed guidelines and gaps in training for designers and builders. This is where their Innovative Solutions for Universal Design project, or isUD comes in.
The short video below begins with the basics of universal design and why designs should be inclusive. It then invites viewers to check out over 500 solutions in their online program. The nine chapters based on the 8 goals of universal design cover: design process; space clearances; circulation; environment quality; site; rooms and spaces; furnishings and equipment; services; and policies. The focus is on public and commercial buildings. IDEA, is a research-based organisation based at State University of New York, Buffalo.