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MID Studio school for individual needs


school for individual needs 

Course description

— Guest Professor Fredrik Skåtar, Architect SAR/MSA

— Professor Uwe Gellert

Many children and young people struggle with health conditions and physical or cognitive impairments. Their educational situation is challenged by a need for more specific spaces, suitable logistics between rooms, appropriate accommodations, and devices that facilitate their everyday lives. Schools hosting these students need to look into the future. This means new teaching formats and content but updated requirements for teaching materials, equipment, furnishings, fittings, the building itself, and a contemporary communication strategy inside and outside the school. The unique requirements of this specific type of school make this update rather complex. The school staff, pupils, and parents often know what they need, but how would it be designed, assembled, visualised and communicated? As a group of integrated designers, we can help the school materialise their ideal situation.

Main concepts

We’d like to avoid using terms such as special, handicapped or disabled. We start from a mindset where the pupils are already part of society, without labels. We can use more words such as impaired, challenged, having health conditions, differently abled and similar, less value-laden forms of communicating the characteristics of our target group.

Instead, we see accessibility for all people and facilitating their everyday lives through architecture and design.

The schoolyard, or school garden, is the filter between the city and the school, connecting them through usage and interaction.

Keywords: cultural and social sustainability, social awareness, regional politics, minority groups, urban planning, identity, inclusion, inclusive design, mentally impaired/challenged.

Inclusive design
The project revolves around the concept of Inclusive design, which can sometimes be summarised as design for everyone. However, there are misconceptions about the term because design for everyone can also be associated with universal design and accessibility, albeit there are overlappings. The former is a general approach based on groups with shared needs. For example, the designer addresses the visually impaired with an overarching solution. The latter concerns building regulations in private and public spaces, for example, how steep a ramp should be to accommodate a wheelchair. Inclusive design focuses on individual needs. For example, the visually impaired are differently abled within their own group, and each person might perceive the world differently from someone else despite having the same proven impairment. Furthermore, there is a wide variety of wheelchairs, and the persons using them are differently skilled, abled, agile, etc. Thus, inclusive design is a central theme of the studio, and we will work user-focused, mapping our target group's needs by visiting a Dessau school.

The studio structure follows a research-by-design approach where students find a topic as early as possible, giving them a manageable context within which they conduct research directly relating to their topic, supported by the studio’s precedents and conceptual tools, on-site mapping and analytical drawing throughout the process. We will gather our ideas in an activity cloud that will be the studio’s guiding assembly of design solutions for the impaired.

Students are expected to create a table of contents for their project in the first stage, accompanied by an explanatory text up to an A4, including questions such as: what are your goals? For whom do you design and why? How do I reach these goals, and how do I argue in their favour? — these research and design questions will be relevant and create a common thread throughout the project. 

Research phase (example of topics — to be updated together)

User analysis
Exploring pupils' needs, families, and school staff. We will visit the school in smaller groups.

Room program
What are the current and future main activities?
How much space do these activities need, and what types of rooms are required?
What shapes of rooms are needed?
What materials are relevant for the rooms?

Components program
What appliances do they have, need, and, perhaps, have yet to think about?

What are the main accessibility questions?

Public space filter
How can we design a semi-public schoolyard and school garden?
We explore how the site relates to the city and what impact it can have on urban interaction.

Designing an activity cloud together that could look something like this:

Design phase
Students pick their focus area based on four groups:

Design appliances (the smallest scale) — e.g. gadgets, handles, technical equipment, teaching appliances, VR ideas.

Spatial components (the mid-scale) — e.g. ramps, doors, designing specific rooms, lifting equipment, play equipment.

Room structure and ambience (larger scale) — how the rooms are organised and relate to each other and designing the schoolyard, school garden and public space).

Public relations and concepts (the conceptual scale).
Formulating connections between the above scales and the city and society (e.g. urban concepts, sociology, creating a digital twin, creating visual identity). How can our ideas be communicated to politicians and citizens? All students relate to this group, but some can choose this group for more in-depth work, managing the overall concept.

The groups are hypothetical; we should discuss and update them based on our findings. We also want the groups (max 4 people) to be as diverse as possible, from different disciplines and years 1 and 2. 


International Integrated Design

Studio Module Integrated Studio Project

Studio Module Mentoring 1


Wintersemester 2023 / 2024


Mittwoch, 10:00 – 18:00