2012 04 18 What Is Universal Design


I've been emailing a bunch with Aimi Hamraie, soon to finish her Ph.D. at Emory University. Aimi's researching universal design and disability politics in the built environment, among other things. We have a lot to talk about, and I'm hoping to post a long exchange between us here. It was Aimi's research that pointed me to one particularly striking example of new construction with elegant, considered, universal design: The Blusson Spinal Cord Centre in Vancouver, home to a large interdisciplinary research group called the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD).

Blusson Spinal Cord Centre

The building houses a continuous 200 meter ramp with a 5% incline. Every 5 meters is a level "landing" built in. You can see how dynamically this structure was achieved; the architects wanted to obviate the need for the International Symbol of Access. (You all know how I feel about that particular icon...)

Blusson Spinal Cord Centre

Spinal Chord Gala at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, November 5th, 2011

Blusson Spinal Cord Centre Opening

Spinal Chord Gala at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, November 5th, 2011

I'm thinking about ramps quite a lot these days, especially since writing about the subtleties of transportation access in Curitiba, Brazil. I'll be launching a big networked architecture project in the coming weeks. I'll want your feedback. More to come (here and elsewhere).

photo credits, linked to Flickr: petetaylor, rickhansenfoundation, Vancouver Coastal Health. Thumnbail image via.