Taking a universal design approach to architectural practice requires a change in attitudes in architectural education. Continuing professional development (CPD) is one way to achieve this. A joint project by the University of Limerick and the IDeA Center at Buffalo resulted in some recommendations and guidelines to help.
Recommendations were derived from engagement with Irish and international professionals, educators and client bodies. A key finding was the need for new CPD in universal design that goes beyond regulations. It can have a broader value by providing information and resources to assist more creative and inclusive designs.
The title of the article is, A Review of Universal Design in Professional Architectural Education: Recommendations and Guidelines“. The article is open access.
From the abstract
There is a growing understanding of the widespread societal benefits of a universal design (UD). To achieve these benefits, architectural professionals must have the knowledge and skills to implement UD in practice. This paper investigates UD in the context of recent architectural education. It traces changing attitudes in the culture of architectural education, and the evolving perception of UD as an important aspect of architectural practice. Specifically, continuous professional development (CPD) can advance knowledge of UD within a human-centred design paradigm.
Architecture students’ attitudes to universal design
The attitudes of architecture students to universal design is the focus of a Deakin University study. It builds on previous work (Design 4 Diversity) in 2010 on inter-professional learning for architecture and occupational therapy students. The findings of this latest study show that while architecture students viewed access to public environments favourably, there was a mixed response in relation to private homes.
Reasons not to include universal design features in homes included cost, client desires and restrictions on creativity. For example, “Legislation restricts design, resulting in negative impacts the ‘requirements’ did not intend”. These reasons are not referenced in evidence and indicate an attitudinal bias.
The study used a quantitative approach and applied statistical techniques to the data. The first part of the document covers the history of universal design, and there is an extended section on methods and statistics. For followers of UD, the Discussion section is of most interest.
The authors of Students’ Attitudes to Universal Design in Architecture Education, are Helen Larkin, Kelsey Dell, and Danielle Hitch. Journal of Social Inclusion, 2016.
See also Hitch, Dell and Larkin from Deakin University, who also review some of the related literature. The title of the article is, Does Universal Design Education Impact on the Attitudes of Architecture Students Towards People with Disability? Published in the Journal of Accessibility and Design for All.
Researchers from the University at Buffalo presented their research on the incorporation or otherwise of universal design in architectural education at the 3rd International Conference on Design Education Researchers. “Universal Design in Architectural Education: A U.S. Study” was published in The Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference for Design Education Research Vol 2, which has many other articles on the topic of design education.