|Name:||Md. Sharfuddin Siddique|
|Studio Master:||Prof. Haroon Ur Rashid|
|University:||North South University|
The number of visually impaired person in our country is increasing at an alarming rate. It is estimated that nearly 4% of all children in Bangladesh develop corneal damage before reaching 6 years. At least 50% of the children with vision impairment die within one year of becoming blind. The total number of blind person in Bangladesh is 3.3 million (UNICEF, 2005) of whom a huge number consists of children under the age of 15. Therefore, the development efforts for the differently able citizens are critically needed in order to rejuvenate the national economy. To make the visually impaired people self-sufficient the society needs to provide them with proper educational and training.
Moreover, the blind and visually handicapped have the right to be able to navigate effortlessly through the built environment. Navigation through and the action of experiencing a place depends on a person’s ability to collect information through his or her senses. However, Architects most often focus only on the visual aspects of a design rather than considering other sensory aspects.
This thesis aims to examine the different ways in which the blind and visually handicapped navigate through and experience the built environment. Understanding of these interactions is used to develop an architecture that enhances the specific characteristics, which help the blind and visually handicapped.
This institution located in Gazipur consists of educational, training and residential facilities, aims to provide a support network for the visually impaired person. The purpose is to empower them so that they can lead independent lives through the provision of education, training and employment services.
There are significant controversies over what type of environment is appropriate for the blind and partially sighted people. Some considers a ‘protective’ environment where the architect designs an artificial environment completely tailored to the sensory needs of the blind person. Others consider a ‘hostile’ environment which disregards the blind person altogether. Another set of designers proposes that the most suitable environment is perhaps one that is ‘progressive’ which serves to integrate the blind minority into the sighted majority. Therefore, the progressive method is applied to this thesis project. Such environments are ‘protective’ within the centre and ‘hostile’ towards the exterior when introducing the individual to the sighted environment.
Architecture is a full-body experience and too often architects focus exclusively on visual aesthetics. Through the exploration of sensory architecture, it is evident that visually impaired users benefit positively from architecture that communicates with them through their remaining functional senses. Hence, Acoustic architecture along with Tactile and Olfactory architecture has been given prioritised in this design.
The concept of single spine design and cognitive map is used in this design. For a blind person, the development of spatial representations occurs through a cognitive map consisting of routes and landmarks. A blind person defines this destination point through a mental representation of route, which is physically defined by various acoustic, tactile and olfactory landmarks.
Other factors like climatic and environmental parameters, site forces such as existing vegetation and flora-fauna as well as the findings from site analysis are taken under consideration for this design. A unit of 1 meter and a module for dorm rooms has been developed according to the ergonomics of a blind children and used throughout the design process.
This institution for the blind children consists of three major programs that are, a. Dormitory for the blind children, b. A rentable Training centre, and c. Eye Clinic. The dormitory has the following functions: a. Rooms for 60 children, b. Study/class rooms, c. Dining & Kitchen, d. Life skill training programs such as Braille, Computer, Musical Instruments and Spoken English training as well as Orientation and Mobility Training (O&M), and e. Administration. The rentable training centre is designed on the basis on the participatory method, which has the following functions: a. Conference Hall, b. Meeting Room, c. Room for the participants, d. Dining and kitchen, e. Administration and f. Office for the NGO.
Development of this design went through a process of gradual development and screening from one phase to another. At every phase the problems identified at the previous phase has been eliminated. The development of the building layout was guided by the flora-fauna of the site. In the attempt to keep the flora-fauna intact only 8 trees had to be cut-down out of 63 large trees located on the site.
The establishment of the cognitive map for the blind children has provided variations of spaces and forms. Moreover, the single spine method provided an elongated mass, which also satisfies the climatic parameters as the elongated elevation faces south.The site has an area of 1.7 acre and the built floor space is 12000 sqm with a ground coverage of 2800 sqm at 40%.