Rethinking space from the perspective of a person with disabilities

If you saw people blindfolded or using the College’s staircases with crutches, that was the Architecture mixer class. The goal of the session was to reflect on the link between our understandings of the human body and the design of spaces. The session started reviewing Leonardo’s Vitruvius Man drawing. It was made following the Roman architect Vitruvius’ instructions, which were written in the first century BC. Leonardo and Vitruvius were used as examples of how architecture has understood the “ideal” or “universal” human body, and how in our days the concept of inclusion should make us think beyond that ideal. In what followed, pairs of students went around the campus producing directions to get to specific places. These directions were later complemented with the experiences following the same paths while using crutches and being blindfolded. The session finished with a brief discussion based on the students’ experiences during the exercise and those of friends or relatives with disabilities, as well as of elders in an increasingly aging world. The conclusion is quite straightforward: the human body that is in the center of architectural design must include the diversity of needs required for a more inclusive society.