My work revolves around the issues of designing using the ‘average’, which has been used as a form of guidance to design spaces or objects by generalising everyone to fit into them.
These universal approaches have limitations in that they reflect on ideal bodily representations based on ableist and masculinist attitudes and lacking in body diversity within gender, disability, age, etc. This has caused people who are outside the mainstream of society to feel excluded from the design by not fitting into these ideal body assumptions, which can be seen historically and in the present time.
This concern arose from my first term research and investigation around Brighton seafront by identifying that this environment brought unequal experiences for people where some would feel included and others excluded when using the same circulation routes. This led to my first term project, which stepped away from designing using standard measurements and challenged universal objects. This involved taking an A2 portfolio and changing it to adapt to fit my body and address my needs, which formed something unique and true for myself proving how much one body can change the design.
In my second term project, it was understood that the perfect body representation in design does not exist as the average will never represent the majority. The question was how we should be designing in the future without the average to create equal and inclusive environments. The project site stayed in Brighton seafront area focusing on redesigning a specific building being the old Shelter Hall that is currently in construction to become new commercial building. The final building design centred on a people’s forum being a platform to discuss the issues of the ‘average’ – this space encourages the act of freedom of speech or expression to let the public and experts talk about their experiences in design and involve the legislative/policy members to adapt the regulations. The rest of the building acts as a large public foyer that allows people to gather for meetings, research, and experimentation with the spaces. The building has adaptive qualities within its structure allowing it to be taken out for use and stored away to make space. This is an important aspect of the building as it does not limit its users but adapts to them, and its users give the building life by changing the building form through daily activity and circulation. The building design also has non-segregated circulation routes, toilets, and seating to create more inclusive and equal spaces.
I learned in these projects how difficult it is to design something that tries to meet all needs, as it is an impossible task for one person to understand all experiences. Therefore, it is a task that everyone should be involved in to begin to fully understand issues others face. It is a matter of identifying and critiquing environments that one will encounter daily and understand that we must not keep adapting and accepting excluding spaces but challenge them.
How have you found your time at Brighton?
Overall, I had a great experience studying at Brighton with its occasional ups and downs throughout the years. The architecture community is strong and caring for its staff and students. I loved working in the studio with my course friends as we all helped and learned from each other. Being a member of the BIAAS society (architecture society) was enjoyable as we organised some memorable events and activities for the students to help raise money for our end of year show. My tutors were all very supported and dedicated by helping me through guidance and motivation to keep challenging my work. There were some difficult moments I had during the course – the staff members were very considerate by dealing with my situation carefully through additional support to keep me going. During this COVID outbreak, it has been challenging times for all but the course did not turn their backs and kept supporting us in this transition into online teaching.
What are your plans after Graduation?
Planning to have a bit of rest and celebration time with family and friends. I will be focusing my time on preparing my applications to gain some work experience at an architecture firm for my placement year. At the moment I see myself continuing with this career choice by doing next my part 2 and part 3 in architecture, therefore I hope this placement experience will help me confirm this.