Going Forward (3) – building new partnerships

A group of disabled artists and architects sit around a table discussing design improvements to the space.

It has felt very powerful this year to be doing more and more work with students and educators in architectural education. In 2018 The DisOrdinary Architecture Project has given talks, run workshops, co-designed projects and had artists-in-residence in 20 universities and related institutions both nationally and internationally. The amount of interest and engagement has been very energising.

Interestingly though, we have found that – working into architectural education – where educators are ‘required’ to work with us, for example by a superior, the response has often been both instrumental and lacklustre (that is, seen as merely paid-for teaching that at least fills up time in an always frantically busy schedule). This can be exacerbated by a ‘just-in-time’ mentality that leaves little room for dialogue, and by a more common problem of resisting ‘outsider’ influence on students.

Since this results in very unsatisfactory outcomes for DisOrdinary we try not to work in this way; but rather want to make sure disabled artists are co-designers in a shared, engaged and negotiated process that builds on their specific artistic practice and on finding new creative ways to do dis/ability differently, beyond simple compliance or ‘special needs’. So, for the moment, word of mouth seems our most productive way forward; building not access and inclusion, but transformative social and spatial justice, one very small step at a time. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss a possible collaboration with us.