The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 22

LOCATIONS

BLINDFOLDED TOUR: AN EYE OPENING EXPERIENCE
by GORDON S. GRICE, OAA, FRAIC

f you were in downtown Toronto last August 19, around Queen and Yonge, you might
have witnessed an unusual sight: a man, holding on to one end of an orange shoelace, leading a second man, holding the other end of the shoelace, slowly around
the downtown core. The second man was blindfolded, hence the orange shoelace.
People must have been pointing, stopping and staring, whispering among themselves. Was this some sort of hazing ritual? A lost bet? A TV show? I have no way of
knowing because although I was there, I was the one wearing the blindfold, holding
one end of the shoelace.
At the other end of the shoelace was Jonathan Silver, a philosophy grad with a
keen interest in sensory space. He had offered to take me on one of his blindfolded
tours, so that I could further my own research into sensory space by experiencing a
familiar environment without the use of vision. We followed a course (predetermined
by Jonathan, but unknown to me) that included a variety of spaces. Jonathan would
slacken the string from time to time, which was my signal to stop, and ask me what
I thought of the space I was in. How did it make me feel? Was it a space I wanted
to spend time in or did it make me anxious? Was it wonderful or weird? Comfortable
or creepy?
We walked very slowly at first. Without sight, even maintaining my balance presented
a challenge. Every change in grade or surface texture meant I had to adjust my internal
gyroscope. If I had been able to see these changes, my body would have adapted
automatically, without my even being aware of it. After a while, the pace picked up a
little. I am normally a brisk walker and it made me very uncomfortable to be walking
this slowly, but once my senses started to perk up, things improved.
It was a warm summer day and we visited a surprising number of outdoor spaces that
were quiet and sheltered. Jonathan was careful not to let me know when we passed
through a doorway, so at times, I couldn't tell whether we were indoors or outdoors.
Ground and floor textures played a huge part in how quickly and easily I could move
through a space. On a smooth indoor floor surface, my walking speed picked up. On a
rough outdoor path, every footfall had to be made tentatively. As architects, we know that
walking surfaces affect our general feelings about a space. Colour, texture and pattern
help to create a mood as well as affecting the direction, speed and character of our
motion. But these are all visual clues and
we respond to them without really noticing.
It dawned on me that not everyone
gets to restore their sight by removing a
blindfold after an hour. I gained a degree
of respect and admiration for unsighted
people who experience the non-visual
world all the time. In addition to the things
I learned about my own sensory response,
I became aware that there is a lot we,
as architects, landscape architects and
planners, can do to make the environmental experiences of unsighted people
Toronto City Hall, North Side, Upper Level.
a little better.
PHOTO: THE AUTHOR
22 | Read The Right Angle Journal online www.therightanglejournal.ca

Colour,
texture and
pattern help
to create a
mood as well
as affecting
the direction,
speed and
character of
our motion.
But these
are all visual
clues and we
respond to
them without
really
noticing.


http://www.therightanglejournal.com/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018

Message from the Board
Walking
Integrated Building Design... and More
Feature Project: Guelph Market Square
Index of Advertisers
Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Message from the Board
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Walking
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 6
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 7
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 9
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 10
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 13
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 14
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 15
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 16
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 17
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Integrated Building Design... and More
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 19
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Feature Project: Guelph Market Square
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Index of Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0220
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0120
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0419
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0319
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0219
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0119
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0418
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0318
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0218
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0118
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0417
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0317
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com