ASID Icon - Winter 2013 - (Page 22)
Photo by Josue Pandeli
Figure 5. Although designed for accessibility and
mobility, nothing about this kitchen draws attention
to the condition or disorder.
affords family privacy, which is needed for the mother-child bond and
family healing. Likewise, the clustering enables emotional and physical
support from the other residents should the occasion arise.
Photo by ReVisions Resources
Populations seeking environmental modiﬁcation for a speciﬁc outcome
criticize the purely functional initiatives that often derive from clinical
perspectives. This is a concern for many who have suffered a traumatic
injury or have had their activities of daily living compromised by disease
or illness. The built environment as a physical form often serves as sets
of visual clues. Hence, the physical environment and the way in which
it is designed has the ability to satisfy a physical health issue but, concurrently, negatively affect psychological or social health.
Designing for the elderly or differently abled population is based on
merging design with functionality and embracing interdisciplinary perspectives. According to Liliane Choney, executive director of ReVisions
Resources in San Diego, "A goal of design for people with different abilities
is to accommodate a given situation or circumstance without the initiatives
being so obvious as to draw attention." In short, the environment should not
reﬂect the occupant's disability so that the disability deﬁnes the occupant.
Figure 5 demonstrates an ideal kitchen design for a person who uses a
wheelchair for mobility. To the untrained eye, there is nothing about this
environment that draws attention to the condition or disorder. When designing for people with differing abilities, a fundamental key is to understand
the accommodations along with any other unique situations of concern.
The kitchen in Figure 5 has extra wide pathways, which utilize a porcelain
Figure 4. Wooden fencing provides security while
creating a "homey" rather than institutional, look.
tile ﬂoor that will not show the scuff marks created by the wheelchair tires,
provides a hard surface for easy maneuverability, and has a mat ﬁnish on a
dark color as to minimize reﬂections and easy cleaning. This type of ﬂooring, when sealed, is ideal for people with compromised mobility because it
is nonporous, which means that there is little opportunity for bacteria and
fungi to grow and become airborne. This kitchen also utilizes numerous
environmental modiﬁcation measures that ensure the psychological health
and physical safety of the occupants. For example, the 17-ft. island provides
four workstations as well as dining for six. The dining area has no base
obstructions, which allows for complete wheel chair access and the workstations offer unencumbered access for food preparation. Additionally, the
entire island is 32 inches high with 9-inch toe-kicks to provide ample clearance for a wheelchair. Designs such as this come from multiple simulations
(personal and computer), lots of observations of how people in wheelchairs
use spaces, ﬁrst hand personal experiences, and the effects of the wheelchair on the physical spaces.
REDESIGNING HOW WE DESIGN
Western cultures tend to prefer a sweeping "magic bullet" approach that
assumes a singular approach or initiative will always suffice to bring resolution to a given problem. Because of this cultural ideology, the idea of
bringing multiple professions together in a collaborative design process can
be a daunting endeavor. Fears of professional infringements into a predetermined scope of practice coupled with funding restrictions mean that designs
are often developed in isolation. This paradigm will need to change as we
spend more and more of our lives inside of the built environment (homes,
cars, schools, churches, department stores, etc.). The practice of design is
on the cusp of many opportunities waiting for us to grasp. Research into
the effects of design on human health (physical, psychological and social)
is only one of many burgeoning sub disciplines within design. We as design
practitioners and educators need to rise up and meet the challenges of the
future, by following the lead of programs such as the Boston Architectural
College where the curriculum is not only interdisciplinary in content, but
also taught by an interdisciplinary faculty. Can we also develop truly interdisciplinary professional organizations? The choice is ours! i
Dak Kopec, Ph.D., MS.Arch., MCHES is an environmental psychologist, design consultant, and designer for human health.
the magazine of the american society of interior designers
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ASID Icon - Winter 2013
A Commitment to True Collaboration
Design’s Growing Body of Evidence
Design for Life
ASID Icon - Winter 2013
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