From Accessibility to Experience: Opportunities for Inclusive Design in Architectural Practice

Valerie Van der Linden, Hua Dong, Ann Heylighen


This paper presents an explorative study on the relation between architectural practice and inclusive design. It is hypothesised that the limited adoption of inclusive design in architectural practice may relate to a particular mind-set and/or a lack of information formats that are compatible with (architectural) design practice. The first part of this paper reviews literature from various design disciplines on potential factors that influence the adoption of inclusive design. Influences are sought in the direction of the international context of inclusive design, the limitations of current information formats, and the specific context of architectural practice. The second part of this paper reports empirical research results from 20 interviews with different stakeholders in architectural practice in Flanders, Belgium. The aim of these interviews was to investigate current perceptions, sources and tools, as well as perceived barriers and motivations for inclusive design. Combining these findings with those from other design disciplines reveals opportunities for a closer relation between architectural practice and inclusive design. It was found that a focus on accessibility legislation both in terms of content and format inhibits a potential broader understanding of user experience, which could correspond more to architects way of working.

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