The Average? Exclusive and Inclusive Design:
Exposing exclusive roots in design and challenging the notion of the 'average' as a basis for design.
The project focused on exposing exclusive roots in design and challenging the notion of the ‘average’ as a bias for design. This concern started with identifying that the current Brighton Seafront environment influenced some people to feel more included and others excluded using the same circulation routes. I learned that this derived from the issues of designing from the ‘average’, whereby spaces and objects are designed by generalising everyone to fit into them. These universal approaches have limitations in that they reflect on ableist and masculinist attitudes and lack in considering body diversity in gender, age, and disability. The impact of this type of design results in prioritising some people and overlooking others who do not fit into these ideal body assumptions.
My term one project helped me to understand the reality of the topic, which was that the perfect body representation in design does not exist as it will be unlikely to represent the majority. This influenced my term two project inquiry which was how should we be designing in the future to bring more body diversity into our approaches to build more equitable societies. The outcome involved designing a public building on Brighton seafront that focussed on research and advocacy that aims to find ways to design away from ‘average’. The design centres on a people’s forum, which acts as a platform that encourages the public and experts to express their experiences and concerns in the built environment. The rest of the building acts as a large public foyer, which provides flexible space for meetings, research projects and exhibitions. The overall design of the building has considered inclusive, sustainable, and adaptive qualities to provide an equal and pleasing experience for all users. My final building does not answer my question but over time will help to achieve the goal in overcoming inequalities in the built environment. This will be through encouraging everyone to participate in this movement and bring awareness to the issues people are facing. It is a matter of critiquing our daily environments and understand that we must not continue to accept spaces that exclude people.