Universal design as critical design

Four pictures of workshop outcomes explained in the article. Universal design as critical designWhat if architecture, interior design, engineering and product design students spend a week together to investigate the design of the built environment by making it impossible to use? By deliberately creating designs that are impossible or difficult to use, students learned about universal design. This method is known as ‘critical design’.

A week of critical design workshops provoked reflection, awareness, empathy and action among the next generation of designers involved in the built environment. The paper provides details of the workshops and the processes, and the outcomes for the students and their designs. The picture above shows four of the designs discussed in the article.

The students felt the workshop was a great learning experience. Although the workshop method needs some perfecting, it shows that students approach universal design in a more thoughtful way. 

The designs were exhibited for others to experience the difficulties people with different disabilities experience with a design. Critical design is a real challenge to design problem solving. 

The title of the paper isEmpathy Enabled by Critical Design – A New Tool in the Universal Design Toolbox. The article is published in the proceedings of the UDHEIT 2018 conference held in Dublin, Ireland.

Editor’s note: I liked the narrow doorway with a sticky floor that made entry difficult.

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