A good architecture project must be accessible to all, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities. To raise awareness about these issues, and help you in the design process, we have compiled some basic actions that must be carried out for people to inhabit residential spaces comfortably and without obstacles.
U-M architect and an associate professor at the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Sean Ahlquist with MSU playwright Dionne O'Dell created a sensory theater experience for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) challenges. Ahlquist has sought out solutions to help initially his daughter with her autism, by learning more about her specific needs, and the way that she interacts with the world around her.
When famed architect Michael Graves contracted a mysterious virus in 2003, a new chapter in his life began. Paralyzed from the chest down, the pioneer of Postmodernism would be permanently required to use a wheelchair. Graves could have been forgiven for believing that having fought for his life, having been treated in eight hospitals and four rehab clinics, and needing permanent use of a wheelchair, that his most influential days as an architect were behind him. This was not the case. To the contrary, he would use this new circumstance to design trend-setting hospitals, rehab centers, and other typologies right up to his death in 2015, all with a new-found awareness of the everyday realities of those in wheelchairs, and what architects were, and were not doing, to aid their quality of life.
Of all the steps a city can take to make itself more pedestrian-friendly, developing a integral system of signage is both a quick and easy improvement that makes a world of difference--as shown by initiatives like Legible London, New York's WalkNYC, or Rio on Foot, in Río de Janeiro.
When working in an urban area with a complex topography, one of the biggest challenges is urban integration. Worldwide, many socially deprived neighborhoods are situated in complicated geographical locations surrounded by steep slopes. Such areas complicate mobility for pedestrians, cyclists, and the elderly, with a lack of accessibility often excluding them from taking part in city life effectively.
In this context, urban elevators can be a novel solution which combine elements of both functional connectivity and sculpture. With some rising up to 30 meters in height, they become urban and touristic landmarks, creating new viewpoints and walkways. Additionally, in many cases, they can help to uphold the historic legacy of the city.
Below we have collected some interesting examples of urban elevators that have been key in the spatial planning of the urban environment.
Avanti-Avanti Studio: "Design for All, the Start of the Creative Process is Through Individual Diversity"
Avanti-Avanti Studio is a design studio dedicated to the development of creative communication strategies, particularly specialized in “Design for All.” Founded by Alex Dobaño (graphic designer and member of the Design For All Foundation) and Elvira Muñoz (architect), the duo leads a multidisciplinary team of professional people in communication, design, and technology, and work with companies and institutions specialized in leisure, tourism, culture, museums, and cities. They describe their practice as a meeting point, where professionals from different fields come together for every new venture, to ensure that the built environments are suitable and inclusive for anyone experiencing them.
In architectural spheres, “accessibility” is often directed at the end-user, and the imperative act of designing spaces, buildings, and entire cities along the principles of “universal design.” An increasingly central aspect of architecture, spurred by legislation such as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the ethos of accessible architecture was well captured by architect Ronald Mace, quoted in a 1997 New York Times editorial asking “if we’re not designing for human beings, who are we designing for? Let’s design all things, all the time, for everyone. It’s where we’re headed.”