‘Design empathy’ builds inclusive spaces for people with autism

By Alex Bozikovic
The Globe and Mail, April 15, 2015

GlobeMail_Architecture_AutismFluorescent lights. A wall painted bright yellow. A smoke detector that keeps beeping through a meeting. These are things that you might encounter in an office or a classroom without much notice. But what if you saw those fluorescent lights flickering intensely and heard them emitting a painfully sharp buzz? Or if that yellow wall seemed to be vibrating, like a broken computer monitor? Or if the bleep of the alarm was the loudest sound you could hear?

(Left: The Northern School for Autism in Australia, designed by Hede Architects, is built specifically to support students on the autism spectrum, Hede Architects)

Many people with autism have this sort of discomforting experience every day. Their experience of sensory inputs, such as sound, light and textures can be radically different, and apparently innocuous design details can be powerful barriers to their comfort and success, from school to the workplace and beyond. Among designers and researchers, there is growing interest in understanding how to recognize the needs of this group – which is at least 1 per cent of the population. And at the heart of autism-focused design is one central insight that can benefit everyone: that we all experience the world in different ways, and that being able to choose a comfortable environment can be a powerful thing.

“What I have always found is that when you design for autism, the general population benefits,” says A.J. Paron-Wildes. Read more…

NFCA Floor Covering Reference Manual Available Online

The National Floor Covering Association (NFCA) Floor Covering Reference Manual is now available online and offered at no charge for six months to architects and specification writers. The manual is the industry standard for floor covering installations in Canada.

Full specification guides for resilient, carpet, hardwood, laminate, bamboo and cork flooring are included in the manual along with guides for cementitious underlayment and existing flooring removal.

A brief instructional video is available that explains how to register. Registration approval takes 24 – 48 hours.

For more information and to register.

A Lecture by Jacques Herzog, Herzog & de Meuron

Award winning architect Jacques Herzog will give a lecture at the Orpheum Theatre in the context of the current exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery Material Future: The Architecture of Herzog & de Meuron and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Learn about the firm’s vision of how architecture can shape cities and cultural life. The presentation will be followed by an open Q&A with the public.

Jacques Herzog established Herzog & de Meuron with Pierre de Meuron in Basel in 1978. He studied architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) from 1970 to 1975 with Aldo Rossi and Dolf Schnebli. He was a visiting tutor at Cornell University, USA in 1983. With Pierre de Meuron, he is visiting professor at Harvard University, USA (1989 and since 1994), professor at ETH Zürich since 1999, and co-founder of ETH Studio Basel – Contemporary City Institute since 2002. In 2001, he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize together with Pierre de Meuron.

The architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron has been commissioned as the design architects for the future Vancouver Art Gallery, in collaboration with Perkins+Will as the local executive architects.

Date: Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 7:30 pm
Location: Orpheum Theatre, 601 Smithe Street
Tickets: $10 general admission, $7 for Gallery Members and students with valid ID

For more information.