The design of spaces for people with visual disabilities is an important issue when it comes to talking about accessibility. Architects who adopt the principles of universal design understand that the needs of a blind client are the same as those of all people.
Inclusive design is vital in order for all users to be able to develop comfortably and to correctly understand the various functions of a space. Given the need for our cities to promote integration, we present three exemplary projects for a blind user; a house, a building and a public space.
A House for a Blind Inhabitant
The MAC House by So & So Studio was designed for a blind woman in Thiene, Italy. After 50 years of living in her old house, the architects chose to implement a design that would allow her to move easily through the new house.
The project used glyphic language on the floor to guide the user using a system of an integrated map. The spaces were oriented around a central corridor, ensuring efficient circulation and minimizing a labyrinthine effect.
Within this house, we worked directly with the client to map out her daily habits and typical path. This ensured an intuitive organization of the home and helped to ease the transition of daily activities between her two houses; old and new. Each daily use or activity became a node in So & So Studio’s house map.
A Center for the Blind
The Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired by Taller de Arquitectura and Mauricio Rocha, proposed to improve the user's spatial perception, activating the five senses as an experience and a source of information. The project works as a layout that can be read as a series of tactile filters that extend from the entrance to the back of the building in parallel strips.
The first filter is the building that houses the administrative offices, cafeteria, and utility area. The second consists of two parallel lines of buildings organized symmetrically along a central plaza. These buildings contain a store, the "tifloteca-sonoteca" (a sound and touch gallery) and five arts and crafts workshops. The third filter has the classrooms facing the gardens and the most private courtyards. Perpendicular to the entrance, a series of double-height volumes house the library, gymnasium-auditorium, and swimming pool.
Horizontal and vertical lines at hand height in the concrete walls offer tactile clues to identify each building. Six types of fragrant plants and flowers in the perimeter gardens act as signs to help guide users within the complex.
An Inclusive Public Space
The Friendship Park by Marcelo Roux and Gastón Cuñaes is a public space created for the development of inclusive recreational activities. It consists of six sectors, with children's games, furniture and equipment.
The will to have an inclusive environment, demanded us to conceive the park from the senses and their possibilities. To do so we opted for devices that enhance the tactile, audible and aromatic experiences.
The park has large textured surfaces, building figurative and abstract stories on topics related to astronomy, the universe, the history of humans and animals. On the other hand, the landscape project incorporates innumerable plant species that provide specific colours, textures and aromas.