Skip Navigation | Accessibility | Default version |High contrast version

A collaboration between deaf and disabled artists and interior architecture students

You are here:

More on the design project

Image - sitevisit2.jpg

A view across the open expanse of the top floor of the warehouse in Brick Lane, site for the project

The Making Discursive Spaces project brought together seven deaf and disabled artists with a group of ten second year undergraduate interior architecture students at the University of Brighton, UK, on a design project for artists’ studios in a dilapidated London warehouse.

Working with Inside Out artists

This project with interior architecture students was developed from a previous Arts Council SE funded project called Inside Out. In the first phase of the Inside Out project deaf and disabled artists undertook creative work in response to their experiences of the built environment. This initial work was captured on a website, with the intention of informing and involving architectural practitioners and students in debates about disability and building design.

The collaborative process

Making Discursive Spaces aimed to develop one such creative and constructive engagement. Deaf and disabled people were therefore not located conventionally as clients or users but as tutors, that is, creative, professional and artistic individuals with important insights to offer, integral to the building design process. They were there as collaborators and mentors, beginning speculative discussions about how the experiences of disabled people might be articulated more resonantly within architectural and interior design education.

I really didn’t and don’t want to be an accessibility facilitator and so didn’t go in this way.
Artist’s feedback 11th May 2007
It felt important to give support on whatever level people were processing really.
Artist’s feedback 11th May 2007
…we were not about influencing really accessible yet boring spaces but were artists…
Artist’s feedback 11th May 2007

This was not about the artists telling students ‘what disabled people want’, but about working with the irreducible complexity of the different artists’ (and students’) lives – their experiences, personal histories, working attitudes, politics etc. – as well as with opening up other interesting intersections such as across artistic and design practices and between practice and education-oriented processes. We hoped the project would be as much about what to do next as what to do now (that is, as much about what the artists and the students could learn for future work, as about their specific design projects for artists’ studios).

A short involvement…

The artists arrived towards the end of the project, when the design studio was beginning to get into detailed design. They presented their own artistic work to students and the students presented their schemes to date. The artists then did weekly design tutorials and attended reviews (both within this particular studio and across all second and third year interior architecture students). Throughout, both students and artists captured their experiences and shared information via a blog and occasional seminars.

I feel we are still very much finding our way through the woods with this… but that we began to create a pathway between the spaces and students and the artists, building that understanding into their designs.
Artists feedback 11/05/07
I felt I wanted to productively wrap understanding around them.
Artists feedback 11/05/07

The whole project only lasted four weeks…

  Next: Capturing the process

The Design Project

There is more about the design project, with project briefs, other information, and samples of student work-in-progress on the project blog. Visit the Discursive Spaces blog
Arts Council England University of Brighton, Interior Architecture and Design

Home    Accessibility