We have just had a very valuable 3 days of collaboration between blind and visually impaired architects, artists and writers, working with sighted architects and educators at the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL. The workshop, commissioned by Prof Alan Penn, Dean of the Faculty of the Built Environment, explored how starting from blindness can challenge the centrality of the visual in architectural design thinking and methods. This grew out of a meeting between him and blind architect Carlos Pereira, who also gave a public lecture at the School.
For Alan, enabling more blind and partially sighted people to study and practice architecture and related built environment subjects opens up the discipline to alternative – differently visual and non-visual – methods for mapping, analysing, designing and communicating built space. Finding a variety of approaches de-centres vision as a dominant mode of engaging with buildings and spaces, and enables innovative new ways to map our full range of embodied and sensory relationships to the world. It also challenges the ‘normalcy’ of current architectural education and practice, to ask what it values, and what it leaves out.
You can read more about this project here.