The previous experiment investigated the idea of ‘freedomthrough movement’. It supported the idea of a diversity of environments,atmosphere and ambiance from both the sense of proximity as well as remotenesswithin the urban environment. By,mimicking the urban environment, a city of rooms within the interior of ManthelBuilding was formed evoking the spatial experience of the inhabitants. Thedesign programmed to be a university campus, aimed to accommodate a vast amountof users, which again enforces the consideration of space.
This experiment seeks to respond to the previous experimentby refining the qualities of experiencing the built environment. Instead of accommodating for a largerpopulation of inhabitants, one single inhabitant shall be concentrated on.
The blind and visually impaired are the clients for thisrefined design. This design will consist of a built form that aims to push theexisting boundaries of living conditions for the blind, innovatively andcreatively whilst still being practical and simple.
Around the central business district (CBD) of Wellington,there is the consistent yet extremely subtle vital indication which the blindrely on. Tactile paving found on every road crossing consists of an unevensurfaced pattern of bumps, which aid in the safe flow of movement and crossingfor the blind can be found on every major crossing. It is amazing to realisethe reliable and respectable consideration cities provide for the blind orvisually impaired. However, this deed is only a simple and miniscule featurethat may take place in the life of a blind or visually impaired person. Thisexperiment targets the dominant aspect of the built environment a blind personwill most interact and relate with; the home and habitat.
The previous design of mimicry of the urban environment hasirregular structures and forms that are essential to creating the desiredatmosphere of variant spatial experiences. However in this case, such formswould not be suitable and in fact would cause danger to any bind users. The 95º sloped wallsthat protrude out at head height would be unidentifiable for a blind personusing his cane at feet level. The building forms and shapes must carefully beconsidered to spatially generate a safe and comfortable environment for theblind.
“Architecture requires the understanding of the correlationbetween the sense of sight and the other faculties of mind because the solepurpose of design is to inspire a wholesome experience that incorporates thenatural use of all of one’s senses, not just the sense of sight.”
- Patrick Devliger, Frank Renders, Hubert Froyen& Kristel Wildiers (Blindness and the Multi-Seonsorial City)
The sound of a building is as important as its sight. Thisis where the use of materiality comes into play within the built environment.Sir Basil Urwin Spence, Scottish architect who designed the Beehive for NewZealand, felt that a cathedral should not just look like a cathedral but shouldsound like one as well. Choosing the cathedral at Durham as a model, he testedliterally hundreds of samples of plaster until he found the one that had allthe desired acoustic effects.
The tactile of the sense of touch tells us about the fabricof the building. The choice of material greatly determines the experience wewill have. For example, the use of granite pillars for foundation of a buildingcan exude the effect of strength and sustainability. Several architects havealso emphasized not just the appearances of surfaces, but the feel ofthem.
Lastly, the position and motion are significant because theyenhance the other sense experiences. For example, the use of an elevator orstaircase in the building provides a variety of perspectives that contrast tothe close-up view of the building with the distant city views in thebackground.
One would not usually associate the idea of verticality andthe use of staircases in the built environment for the accommodation of theblind. This experiment seeks to exploit these issues as well as creating anoverall sensory experience that involves touch and sound. The use ofmateriality, positioning and forms of the built fabric comes heavily involvedin this process.
Introducing the proposed design of the ‘Ninja Wall’,‘Xylo-Stairs’, private staircases and slide, all assist in generating a moresuitable and attuned living environment the blind or visually impaired canrelate and feel comfortable in.
This proposed design takes place only in a small section ofManthel Building and could easily be developed to be a cluster of apartmentsthat form a community of living for the blind.
“People withdisabilities aren’t handicapped unless their environment places barriers intheir way”
– Boy Scout Handbook