Inclusive architecture helps as many people as possible to access/ use the space without any hindrance. Here’s a list of a few things that architects can do to make architecture more inclusive.
To create a better world we need inclusion in everything. Inclusive architecture helps as many people as possible to access/ use the space without any hindrance. It creates an environment that enables people with diverse characteristics to use the space without feeling like an outcast. Especially public places should be designed while keeping inclusion in mind so people with different characteristics can interact with one another and everyone can feel a sense of belonging.
Here’s a list of few things that architects can do to make architecture more inclusive-
- Designing for people with differences in abilities- Every public place should have maximum optimization to accessibility so that everyone can enjoy irrespective of different developmental, physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities. Simply by meeting the accessibility requirements for people with different abilities one can make a space comfortable for everyone. Though accessibility is associated with mandatory regulations that vary in each country, designing with the awareness of and care for different people should be an essential element present of every architecture.
2. Seeking out points of exclusion- Create new solutions by highlighting opportunities and generating new ideas through seeking out points of exclusion. By understanding what, why, and how people are excluded can help in building more inclusive architecture.
3. Taking gender dynamics into consideration- Architecture should be for people of all gender expressions and sexual identities. A place should feel open as well as exciting and ensuring that for inclusive programming there is adequate space. Also while designing one needs to keep in mind that gender is fluid and dovetails in a complicated manner with sexual identities.
4. Extends the benefits of the solution- A solution to any difficult conundrum can benefit a broader audience. If a solution only benefits differently disabled people then there is no point for such solution because then also those people will be marginalized and other people will find it difficult to use and an environment of ‘them’ and ‘us’ will be created and we aim to create an environment where there is on ‘us’ and ‘them’. We need to create a space that will have a strong essence of unity and acceptance.
5. Culturally inclusive space- Built environments should facilitate spatial justice and to do so we need to pivot on interculturalism as a means of metamorphosing spaces and architectures into more just and inclusive ones. Designing an inclusive space or architecture productively or creatively is quite challenging and needs to engage with diversity, difference, and cultural heterogeneity.
6. Recognizing creative placemaking- Every public space that is designed tells a story. Choices of signage, memorials, etc. convey a message that different users would interpret differently. Creative placemaking is all about people and it must be pivoted on functional and aesthetic challenges to create spaces that have meaning and where people would want to be. It also must depend upon sensitive awareness to establish relationships on factors like social, cultural, environmental, and economical which are unique to different locations and regions.
7. Design to overcome unconscious biases- A designer must empathize with the users who occupy the places and everyday spaces we design as it will enable the users to do their best work in an environment that is much supportive. The only way to overcome unconscious biases in architecture is to pursue iterative innovations in the design process.
8. Providing equivalent experiences to all- Meeting the needs of standard accessibility does not necessarily guarantee usability. Designing for different people in different ways helps people to engage with space according to their needs, and ensures that the experiences are comparable.
9. Room for retail in public spaces- To attract broader audiences and to redistribute economic opportunities to underrepresented vendors, there should be space for them to sell their products or services. However, the sole purpose of the space should never be retail, a retail and non-retail balanced combination of space can ensure that space never gets overcrowded with non-customers.
10. Get community feedback- Last but not least, conducting community-wide surveys helps to understand the needs of the people so as an architect we can build a comfortable environment for them. Also by involving people of different communities throughout the design process will help us architects to know what their needs and design accordingly.
Design of a place evokes strong feelings, from abhorrence to admiration and attachment, the main purpose of designing any space is to create room for people from all walks of life and with different abilities and sexual characteristics and orientations. The feeling of exclusion can be curtailed with good design and good design methods only.