Usefulness in architecture, accessibility, inclusion and usability as spatial experiences


Jonas E. Andersson


E5. Acoustics, touch and spatial experiences

Date and Time

2014-06-18, 10:50 - 11:10


MA 7
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The on-going ageing process of modern civilization implies an increased need for an improved fit between the human being’s individual demands on the physical environment, and architectural realizations: Architecture has to be harmonized with qualitative and quantitative requirements in order to create a built space accessible, inclusive and usable for everyone, regardless of cognitive or physical abilities. This study focuses on a particular continuing education course at the School of Architecture, Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, in Sweden, which aimed at expanding the existing practice of teaching accessibility, inclusion and usability in architecture by focusing on the individual experience of architectural space. The course attracted eight professionals, seven women and one man. Two were trained as architects, while the others had various clerical professions. During seven 5-hour long sessions, including study visits, lectures, and literature seminars the concept of ‘experienced space’ was addressed in order to assess ‘usefulness in architecture.’ The course literature referred to three main works, one on universal design, one on wayfinding, and one fictional work, in which spatial thinking is closely related with to the plot. In addition, four examples of built environment were evaluated using an assessment protocol that aimed at highlighting spatial elements that promoted an increased level of accessibility, inclusiveness, sustainability and usability of the building. The course also required an individual assignment for each participant; writing an essay or making an oral presentation that dealt with all or either of the mentioned aspects. Seven out of eight participants fulfilled this part. The preliminary conclusion of this study suggests that the key concepts requires a spatial experience in order to become active parameters in the construction of an accessible, inclusive, sustainable and usable architecture and built environments.