Universal Design in student projects at the Dublin School of Architecture, DIT

Emma Geoghegan - MSc Urban Design, MArch, BA (Hons) Arch MRIAI ARB Lecturer in Architecture and Architectural Technology,

Dublin School of Architecture DIT

This paper will discuss Universal Design principles as manifest in studio design and research projects by students at the Dublin School of Architecture (DSA), DIT. An understanding of Universal Design is identified as an important part of the design education of DSA architecture and architectural technology students but methods to infuse it into the curriculum have generally been restricted to individual single semester studio projects. Furthermore the education of architecture students and architectural technology students, whilst both studio based, tend to have pedagogical impetuses which place different emphasis on parts of the design process. In their fourth and final year, architectural technology students are required to undertake a detailed research project which investigates a technical or legislative aspect of the design process.

This has resulted in a number of projects investigating the technical aspects of Universal Design principles. An example is a recent project by Davitt Lamon, which investigated the application of the Polis system in order to develop a Building Accessibility Rating for public buildings in Ireland.

In parallel, fourth year architecture students have been required as part of their second semester major studio project to take an holistic and inclusive approach to their housing design projects with UD principles a defined part of the project brief. The studio projects are supported by presentations and workshops through which an emphasis is placed on the interrelationship of design quality, best international practice and inclusive design.

In this paper, examples of student projects from both programmes will be presented and discussed with reflections from the students and studio staff on the learning outcomes of each approach.

Partner in MEME Architecture, an architectural design practice based in Carlow. The practice is involved in community projects and social housing for the disability sector including the LEAP educational building, Carlow which was Highly Commended in the Best Accessible category of the 2010 Irish Architecture Awards. MEME was also shortlisted in the Best Emerging Practice of the Irish Architecture Awards 2013.