On 15th January Applied were delighted to virtually visit Reading University and deliver an inclusive design workshop to Architecture students. Our work often requires us to work closely with architects so it was a great opportunity to discuss the importance of wayfinding with second year students, who are at an early stage in their careers.
Senior Planner Ellie Baker and Senior Designer George Sidaoui facilitated the workshop, explaining the principles of user centred and inclusive design, and how these inform our work. Our recent project in the city of Seattle was used as a case study with various stages of the project explained to illustrate how user centred and inclusive design processes are woven into every stage of a project.
To make these ideas more tangible for the students a workshop exercise was conducted using their studio project; designing a cultural site in the centre of Reading. Students were given a range of user personas with different character descriptions and motivations for visiting the site. This helped the students imagine a user who might be different from themselves. The diversity cube was also used to build a rich picture of each user and to help identify some of the challenges they might experience in arriving at and navigating the building under study.
Students were encouraged to think about every stage of the user’s journey; from when they started planning their visit to leaving the site and beginning their journey home. In many instances this was the first time students were considering how a user with a permanent disability such as being blind, a temporary disability such as a broken leg or a situational disability such as traveling with luggage, might experience their building. Many discussions identified ways in which the spaces they are designing could be improved to be more inclusive and accommodating to all users.
We really enjoyed working with the students and look forward to seeing their projects develop, embracing user centred and inclusive design. Thanks to Dr. Carolina Vasilikou of Reading University for inviting us and the students for listening.