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A collaboration between deaf and disabled artists and interior architecture students

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Questions we wanted to ask

Discursive - “lengthy and including extra material that is not essential to what is being written or spoken about.”
Dictionary definition

Because we wanted to generate ‘Discursive Spaces’, one of the central aims of this project was to capture, communicate and reflect on artists, students and tutors experiences, both to each other and more widely.

Taking a discursive position

Discursive Spaces takes this idea of the ‘extra’ and the supplementary, as an important theme. Deaf and disabled people are themselves often framed as non-essential, prevented from the space or time for lengthy dialogues with non-disabled ‘experts’ or interrogations of ‘normal’ space. Making Discursive Spaces is about refusing to de-value the ‘extra’, but rather making it central.

Some Questions

Making Discursive Spaces wanted to ask many questions, at different levels from practicalities to theories and across artistic and design practices; and between education and practice. So, we wanted to know what such a brief collaboration between students and artists might enable.

For students….

  • How could we provide creative and relevant disability awareness support?
  • How would working with deaf and disabled artists affect the quality of student design project work?
  • What could the project offer in terms of enhanced learning experiences?

For tutors…

  • How could we introduce tutors to disability awareness issues?
  • How would they engage with a disability and architecture project?
  • How might it affect how they thought about their own teaching?
  • How could working with deaf and disabled artists offer a critique of architectural education processes more generally?

For artists…

  • What would be productive and creative ways of engaging with students?
  • How could the project inform artists understanding and critique of architectural education?
  • How might it affect their own artistic practices around the built environment?
  • What might be ways of continuing and extending ‘Discursive Spaces’ around disability and architectural design?

For the project…

  • How could we develop examples of good practice in the teaching and learning of architecture and interiors?
  • How might the project feed into a wider critique of assumptions in architectural education?
  • Could we start to imagine innovative new ways of bringing disability issues into design education?
  • What would be techniques for building robust ways for bringing deaf and disabled artists (and other ‘outsiders’) into design education?

These questions had varying degrees of relevance and interest to the different participants in Making Discursive Spaces. There were also, essentially, my questions, linked to my instigation of the project. Finally, we were still doing a design studio project which had to be assessed within conventional educational criteria.

  Next: More on the design project
Arts Council England University of Brighton, Interior Architecture and Design

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