An architecture of inclusion: Can the profession adapt to the diversity of design demanded by people with a disability?

  • YEAR
    Day, Kirsten
    Martel, Andrew
    2022 Conference Papers
    Conference Papers


From the 1840s, Australia encouraged the committing of people with disabilities to institutions and asylums. By the 1970s the preference was to house people in group homes—domestic in scale but still institutional in design and regulation. Consequently, knowledge of designing for people with disabilities within the architectural profession was low and teaching the design skills required within universities negligible. The United Nations Charter of Rights for People with Disability (adopted by Australia in 2009), and the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (2014), have highlighted the need for education and knowledge among architects and architectural students. The tendency has been to conform to existing regulations, rather than being a driver of innovation. New references in the National Standard of Competency for Architects around designing for disability require demonstrating these competencies by graduates. Using the experience of the inclusion of Indigenous competencies in the National Standard, this paper explores the difficulties the profession and teaching institutions may encounter around identifying people with lived experience working in architecture, or as design teachers. Issues around who is allowed to speak for—and engaging with people with an intellectual disability or neurodiversity pose serious challenges to rectifying decades of neglect.

Keywords: Architecture; Design; Disability; Inclusion.


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