Universalism: A repurposed built environment for the differently-abled

Universal design philosophy talks about inclusive designs. A process of creation that has been undertaken with people across the whole spectrum of ability, in consideration. This school strives to create designs that are accessible by the maximum number of humans, irrespective of their physical ability.

But this idea often gets squeezed down to a mere filler, to the chasm between the absolutes of physical ability and disability. Universal design, in most conversations and works, has been represented as a design of building structures that are accessible by people with a physical disability, or people in wheelchairs in broader terms.

Accessibility by differently-abled people is an integral part of universal design,  but not the whole idea itself. Building ramps along with stairs, and having elevator lifts that accommodates the movement of a wheelchair is important. But a designer must know that the structure they are going to design, for any purpose that it may, should look at all the stages of a human’s physical ability and make something that is as close as it can be, to be inclusive of all those prospects.

Universal design, along with its other school of thoughts are a solution to situations of disability and disadvantage due to physical circumstances of a body.

When we talk about people with disabilities, we are not addressing a fringe group. These are people who make up a significant portion of our society. Not just physical limitations people have due to life situations, but those people too who are at different stages of life can have the limited physical capacity. Like kids, old people, pregnant women and other groups who have limitations with their physical movements and are at a disadvantage should be kept in mind while creating a design to generate access for the maximum number of people. To make this idea of universal access, designers and architects should think with an inclusive viewpoint and universal design, along with inclusive design and barrier-free design can create this design perspective that is progressive in many terms.

While this practice is needed in the architecture and design world, but at the same, it should not compromise with the aesthetics. The elements of inclusion should remain invisible in a sense that the whole built structure looks like a universal body and not something that has been stuffed with elements, just to adhere to the norm.

So, the questions arise for many would be that, what is the starting point? And, the answer is quite simple in verbal terms, it begins with a layout that achieves accessible paths to travel to all the areas of the building and space around. Also, professionals should know that disability and disadvantage are similar at many points. The structures should adhere to the need of independent movement in the house, common areas and areas around it. A private place should also be on the lines of adaptability over a long period of time.

Private places are homes for most of the part and their main focus lies with livability. A livable home caters to the need of all those who live in it. From kids to young and old people.  A home should enhance the quality of living for the dwellers and must take care of their needs over changing the period of time.

The same philosophy applies for places of work and attraction as well, their simultaneous purpose should be to make everybody feel that they are in the right place and only then a building would qualify as one that abides the idea of Universal Design.

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Inscribing Architecture brings you the entire world of architecture and design at a single platform, capturing the essence of architecture for all. Architecture should not be exclusive to some. It should resonate with the everyday lives of the people and we make sure we bring that to you.

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