Designing in a universal context allows for an environment to be accessible, innovative, and conducive to the success of the user regardless of physical, emotional, or mental capabilities. This project integrates evidence-based design in order to convey a meaningful and uniquely curated environment for children with developmental disorders and/or sensory impairments to thrive in the context of developmental education.
This research and design project focuses on the challenge of creating a space where children on the autism spectrum with learning disorders and/or sensory sensitivities feel educationally productive and comfortable with the stimuli around them at any given time.
Color is a powerful tool in perpetuating a certain feeling or reaction in a closed environment. Warm colors increase energy levels and foster an underlying sense of dynamism. Cool colors are calming and docile in nature and are great in areas of rest, study, or focus.
The Makerspace is an accommodation that allows children to participate in hands-on activities. Acoustic wood paneling helps to reduce sound transmission and dampen noise. Room dividing curtains help to reduce sound transmission and separate large spaces into smaller, more manageable areas. A warm color palette consisting of oranges, pinks, and reds perpetuates an energetic, creative, and dynamic environment. Small patterns and low-pile textures help to minimize visual confusion and tactile overload. Natural lighting illuminates the space and elevates the well-being and mood of its inhabitants.
Sources: WeGrow school by BIG and WeWork, Gesture Work Chair by Steelcase, Node Five-Star Stool by Steelcase, Roam by Steelcase, Orange by Montana Furniture, Rhubarb by Montana Furniture, UpCycle in Orange by Flor Carpet
Groups of 4 students to one instructor are ideal for individualized learning, and kidney bean-shape tables are an optimal shape for instructor-student work.
Sources: WeGrow school by BIG and WeWork, Node Tripod Base by Steelcase, Interchange Diamond Desk by Smith System, Plato Stack Chair by Smith System, Flex Acoustic Boundary by Steelcase, Verb Instructor Station by Steelcase, Black Jade by Montana Furniture, Ibis by Montana Furniture, UpCycle in Teal by Flor Carpet
Too much flexibility will throw off ASD students and their memorized visual of spaces. There is a lot of conflicting data surrounding spatial considerations in reference to spaces designed to serve those on the autism spectrum. Some data indicates that large, open spaces are more suitable for those with ASD, while some data implies the opposite. Throughout this design, you will see a compromise between the two evidence-based viewpoints, with open spaces and high ceilings complemented by escape spaces, room dividers, acoustic features, and furnishings with semi-enclosed forms.
This sensory garden design was made in collaboration with Sophie Ashcraft, a recent graduate of the BYU-Idaho Landscape Architecture program.