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Access 21 (ongoing)

This page is currently under construction and will be updated in the coming months.

The Access21 project takes the stance that physical disability is produced by disabling rather than enabling micro-geographies, that disability is a socio-spatial experience that is “lived and produced at every imaginable scale” (Gleeson, 1999: 15). Further, I contend that Building 21 functions as a ‘proto-public space’ -- a place functioning as a launching pad for ideas and bridge between the academic community and the general public. Hence, the norms and concepts that circulate in this micro-space can have a positive impact on a larger scale or further entrench social injustices (Wan, 2011).

 please find below images, books, and ideas that are guiding this project— further down you can find some preliminary prototypes

Conceptual Underpinnings

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critical disability studies

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urban im/mobilities

proto-public spaces


Chris Downey (2019)

Chris Downey’s tactile maps to help him work on his architectural designs — see Arch4Blind



OUTCOMES OF PROJECT, PART ONE [under construction]


The aim of this map was to represent the space both spatially and visually while interweaving movement through building 21 as well as highlighting certain aspects of each room that could be altered to be made more accessible.

attempts to represent the space went through multiple iterations, from using revit (bottom right of image) to create a video.

this mapping approach is best suited to enhancing accessibility at building 21 for a few reasons. first, it highlights the flexibility of each room’s design, as I have captured rooms at different times in the year. second, the overlaying of multiple maps of this nature created by multiple users would foster a collaborative access-making project.


flexible signage: 3d printing braille signs for building 21

Termed by Dunne & Raby (2013: 20) critical design refers to “design that asks carefully crafted questions and makes us think [as opposed to] design that solves problems or finds answers”. One of the purposes of critical design is “to help us become more discerning consumers, to encourage people to demand more from industry and society as critical consumers” (Dunne & Raby, 2013: 37). Critical designs are ones that can invoke a reflection on the assumptions ‘we’ make as a society about the world around us, that make us pause and think about the norms ascribed to the objects we use in everyday life.

The labels I created as a part of this project were meant to make the space more socially and spatially accessible to non-sighted people. What occurred through the process of making these and thinking slowly through their meaning and what they represent, I found myself embarking on larger conversations with my mentors at Building 21 about ‘who’ these were meant for, ‘what’ their purpose was, and ‘how’ they would contribute to the space. These braille labels became a critical design object.

While at times there were suggestions that these were not an important dimension of this particular project or that they weren’t worth it because “only 10 percent of the non-sighted population reads braille”, we still felt it important to try and include them in the space in some way because they instigate a critical reflection on their meaning. For example, what if the sign for Building 21 was entirely in braille? What if the map of B21 was tactile, like the approach used by Chris Downey, an architect who is now non-sighted? What would this suggest to a newcomer about the values and environment of the space itself?

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