As an architect, we should always approach challenges as an opportunity rather than as an obligation. An inclusive design/ environment should transcend the adherence to prescribed dimensions. Inclusive designs should be considered as an innovative catalyst instead of a marginal commitment as inclusive design not only reduces barriers but also promotes participation.
Every design decision has the potential to potentially alienate or eliminate end users, keeping that in mind our architectural strategy should be such that it can accommodate people of all types.
Here is the list of things to be considered while designing inclusive architecture:
1. Physical capabilities
Design should be done in such a way that it aims to allow access to those with limited capabilities. But design should not be divided between the normal users and the end-users as it will create a sense of division. The design approach should be such that people should not be reminded of their physical disabilities. And we should try to provide the same means to all users, identical whenever possible but equitable when not.
Architecture especially the public spaces should be designed in a way that it meets the needs of people of all age groups. New spaces nowadays tend to have disproportionately high rates of attention for the middle-aged and the young while on the contrary senior citizens are often neglected by the practice of contemporary urban design.
Spaces should not be gender biased, especially public spaces. Because everyone roots for a space that is convenient for all genders. If we start designing spaces by self-correcting our own gender biases then the spaces designed will work for all.
4. Sexual orientation
Architects should build for humanity from cradle to grave. The design should be such that it helps every member of the community to thrive and reach their goal. Inclusive design solutions and details should always feel natural to everyone.
5. Mental health
The built environment influences people’s senses, mood as well as wellbeing. In order to create healthier and more productive environments we need to give more robust attention to the design based circumstances and think about designing spaces keeping mental health in mind.
6. Cultural belief/ Religion
When architecture uses symbols and design languages we understand that it influences and reflects culture simultaneously. Architecture should be such so that it can evoke culture and context by embedding stronger and enduring means. The current inhumane structure is making the cities more generic and does not reflect one’s identity.
Inclusive design should be affordable so that people of all economic backgrounds could get its benefits. Design either creates barrier or open doors, and inclusive design open doors for all. Economic weaker section people are mostly devoid of basic needs, by affordable inclusive built environments we as architects can help them get their basic needs.
8. Simple and intuitive design
Space should not have complexities so it would be easier to understand. For example, signage which is easier to understand yet innovative and fun should be used. Building an evacuation plan for safety purposes should be easy to understand and have information compatible with the user’s intuition.
9. Tolerance of errors
The minimization of hazards and adverse consequences of accidents through design is necessary. Inclusive design is for all, not for a particular type of person so we need to provide warnings for errors and hazards which is simple and intuitive. Also, we need to design a space in such a way that it discourages unconscious actions in works which require attentiveness.
Maintenance is as important as all the above criteria. If the design or the built environment is not low maintenance then it will become a burden of everyone. Low maintenance has a positive economic impact on the communities. Low maintenance can maintain the quality of the architecture and can also maintain higher property values.
Spaces should have a purpose to serve everybody and accommodate people of all types. In order to support every member of the community, we need to design considering details and keeping diversity of the community in mind to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and welcomed in the built environment and have a stress-free experience. In order to reach newer possibilities and better solutions, we need to look beyond our current perceptions.