The Pace Space and Empathic Growth

Although we didn’t get to fully watch any of the Ted Talks in class, I liked the concepts that they brought up in the sections that we did get to watch.  One thing that really stuck with me from one of the talks was what Marc Kushner said: “Architecture is not about math or zoning – it’s about visceral emotions.” I think this stuck with me because it’s something I agree with and something that they teach us. That one of the big parts of the design process is that first impression of the building for a new user. What kinds of emotions are you trying to evoke by the shapes, colors, and materials you choose. This type of instinctual emotional reactions are the ones that we as architects are trying to create. And I hope to keep this specific Ted Talk in mind as I start to design. I feel like I started doing this in the design slam from last class. I really enjoyed participating in the design slam. My team got to design for a 9 year old named Sarah that likes going to school, but is fidgety due to her ADHD. The first thing we did as a group was brainstorm all of the things that we do went we feel fidgety and what things we do as adults to help keep us from fidgeting. We then did some quick internet search about proven strategies to help with fidgeting and the hyper-activeness that comes with ADHD. From there we started spit balling ideas and came up with The Pace Space as well a customizable desk that allows for students to choose to sit, stand, or kneel, and can wiggle around without disturbing other students. The Pace Space consists of many things. The main part of The Pace Space is a designated space in the back of the classroom to allow students such as Sarah to be active and move around and not disrupt other students but still be able to learn. Things that go in this space are an adjustable standing height desks for students to still have their work in front of them, a large window to connect the student to nature as well as natural light, and small objects to quietly fidget with such as stress balls, fidget spinners, fidget cubes, etc. Our main concern with the design for this space is to enforce the feeling of safety and inclusion. We wanted the child that needed to use this space not to feel like something was wrong with them or that they were ‘bad’ kids because they continuously get into trouble with the teacher for not sitting still. Working through this problem really goes to show how much empathic design has started to change the way I think during the design process. I have really started to think about the different kinds of users and the different things that might be problematic for them, especially in studio. Currently in studio I am doing predesign research on ADA requirements and inclusive design for our next project on designing a Maggie’s Center in Amsterdam. This class has really prepared me to do this kind of research because I started thinking past just the requirements. I have started thinking about how accessible doesn’t mean separate and how I can make the experiences that a disabled person has just as welcoming and special as all the other users of the upcoming project. I feel like I have come a long way in just 5 weeks. And it really is true what the authors said in the first article we read for class; that learning to think empathically takes practice.

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