The Principles Should Be Questioned English Language Essay

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People seek to explore and stimulate their senses regardless if they are able body or not, universal design attempts to address the special needs of different people within the space, develop namely by the architects Ronald L Mace (ncsu, 2012). Another individual would be Selwyn Goldsmith (telegraph, 2011). The question is, "would we want to design for all?" and "would the principles of Universal Design be sufficient in its current state?" to comprehend the scope of the questions, we shall first understand the fundamentals. As listed on the "Centre of Excellence in Universal Design website"), The 7 core principles of universal design, is briefly described as (universaldesign, 1997);

Principle 1,"Equitable use" design which is useful to diverse abilities

Principle 2, "Flexibility in use" design which is accommodating to a wide range of individuals.

Principle 3, "Simple and Intuitive Use" design which is easy to comprehend regardless of the users experience level.

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Principle 4"Perceptible information" the design communicates necessary information effectively.

"Principle 5, "Tolerance for error" design which is adaptable to human errors or recover from unintended effects.

Principle 6,"Low physical effort" designs which can be utilized with low usage of physical energy or effort.

Principle 7, "Size and Space for Approach and Use" appropriate size and space are provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility (universaldesign, 1997).

Bringing the question back again, "would we want to design for all within the space?, and would the space risk losing its identity because of its quest to try to please everybody?" that being said, could the issue be address by proposing additional core principle, "emotional content within the space?", which is lacking from the guidelines of universal design by neglecting the "feelings" and the power of "emotions" and only currently seeks to address the physical needs of the users of the space. Certain topics shall explore and interpret qualified individual opinions ranging on the "ideal proportions", phycology of security, risk assessment, significant of emotions and special forms that evoke it. These issues will be address further within this essay.

The problem of designing for all and do we really want to?

Firstly, the fundamentals of universal design seek to create spaces which are accessible to everyone possible regardless, by identifying and addressing their special needs. This is commendable and should be encouraged. However in the case of average or ideal proportions which Universal design guidelines incorporate in their quest to have spaces design to accommodate a wide a range of people as possible, by finding a middle ground you attempt to please everybody's needs with a one size fits all, which is a paradox to universal designs attempts to design for the different and special needs of individuals and the groups they fall under.

It has been discussed about what should be included under universal design, since it has a "social justice agenda", so it can't be just for the "handicap" as describe by Edward Steinfeld, director of IDEA Centre (2006). However physically preparing the spaces for the targeted individuals does not totally fulfill the social justice agendas which universal design seeks to address, as "being" does not fully secure the individuals in the space only enabling them to navigate through the space but not "feel" secure. The difference between "being" and "feeling" secure is that the first is a physical aspect in which through guidelines and best practices, the individual will be provided physical aid in navigating the space, while the latter focusses on the emotional wellbeing of the individuals utilizing the physical aspect of the space, to invoke the positive emotional response through the senses to make the individual feel like one could transcend their apparent limitations to feel confident enough to navigate the space.

Flaws of the Ideal Proportions

The "Vitruvian man" created by Da Vinci (fig.1) and later the Modular man by Le Corbusier (fig. 2) seeks to attempt to identify the "ideal" proportions of the average human male, and thus design around this formula, based on the average English male for the modular man (Wikipedia, 2012).

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Figure 1:Modular Man Figure 2: Vintruvian man Figure 3: Handicap guideline

(Refer to reference list for image source)

Though it is beneficial to have a system to efficiently be able to design without second guessing the right proportion for people, but it serve the progress of humanity well. If one were to step back and look at it from a macro scale while keeping in mind that an average English male proportion is the basis in which Le Corbusier crafted his spaces, in the context in which the concept was created, it would be functional indeed, but if an architect in Japan was applying the exact same formula, even to an average Japanese man, the experience would be different, due to the average proportion between a Japanese and a English male would vary "effected by the eating habits and environment" (Wikipedia, 2012). Hence the comfort level would vary between the two groups, though they would still likely have the same experience within the crafted environment, with variation. One would like to think that the average proportions derived by Le Corbusier would include the average female proportions, but the choice of symbols, in which it is the male form, would be rather deceptive much less those not deem within the "average" of ideal proportions.

Universal design seeks to design for all, including as many people as possible. Yet the current guidelines which are created to assist in that social agenda, follows the same language as those standards of proportions which were derive from the past (fig.3, shown above). By imposing the "ideal" proportions on individuals with special needs, as if each person has the same degree of need. In the words of Christopher N. Henry, architect specializing in architecture for autism, "This one-size-fits-all mentality consolidates variation instead of celebrating it" (Archdaily, 2011). Universal Design is flawed by obsessing over it in its guidelines on a fundamental level, if it intends to design for all. By finding a middle ground you attempt to please everybody's needs with a one size fits all, which is a paradox to Universal designs attempt to design for the different and special needs of individuals and the groups they fall under.

The Lack of a Significant Principle, Emotional Content

In regards to the proposal of "Emotional content" into the core principles of Universal design, how does one define it? A good place to start would be the theory by Donald A. Norman in his book, "Emotional Design" (2004, pg38). A cognitive scientist, His theories that people perceive and judge design in three levels, it being "visceral, behavioural and reflective". Visceral is the aesthetic quality of the object, or visual stimulant, behavioural was how it felt, and its usability while reflective was a deeper level, in which one had to reflect on the design and in time, it would invoke memories, reflective of one's self - image and if one could identify with it, evoking a sense of joy. An example would be observing an old rocking chair, Viscerally it may not be pleasing due to its age, but it triggers a sentimental response, due to the memory of the observer, recalling a fond childhood which is associated with the rocking chair, he recalls how comfortable it was swaying back and forth, and concludes that it is pleasing on a behavioural and reflective level, one could restore the chair too, to improve it on a visceral level. Just by observing the chair, the brain judges it on three difference levels. It can be argued that great design, attempts to fulfill all three of this levels to some degree.

In the context of Universal Design, the current principles of guidelines works on a "behavioural level" being intended to be easy to use, as well as accessible to people with special needs and the general population, Donald, (jnd, 2012). As Universal design only seems to fulfill one aspect of the theory mentioned. It is of no wonder that Universal design is describe as "not a design style, but an orientation to design" (accessiblesociety, 2010). It can be argued that a Design style would likely invoke some kind of characteristic emotion, be it the feeling of serenity of "Minimalism" or the energy of "DE constructivism" in the writer's opinion. Before one should attempt to identify the characteristics of Universal Design, it is good to understand the attributes of emotions.

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Donald A. Norman made an interesting observation in his book that depending on the situation and the choice of emotion invoke in regards to the context. A positive emotion is not necessary good and a negative emotion is not necessary bad, depending on the context (2004, pg24). As these define to be either positive or negative would tap on the emotional level of visceral design, behavioural design and reflective design to some degree or not at all for some levels. These three levels and the process it is accessed be it from the visceral level up to the reflective "bottom up" or reflective down to the visceral level "top down" as was invoke by the "rocking chair" example earlier. All these have a cognitive and an affective component. "Cognitive to assign meaning, affective assign value" Donald A. Norman goes on to give an excellent example on the interplay of positive and negative emotions using the experience of a rollercoaster. The roller coaster taps into our visceral sense of fear and after the ride is accomplished and we so to speak, "rise above our fears", conquering it. It taps into our reflective level, which is our pride of accomplishing it. It helps defines us against those who refuse to take the ride due to fear (2004, pg24).

Another quality of the interplay of positive and negative emotions is the qualities that it invokes in our state of mind. A space which is positive helps to relax the mind, calm, and open to new ideas, giving one the ability to see the big picture. A negative emotional space would invoke tension, anxiousness, focusing the brain to deal with the problem or space, a very primal state of being, but necessary for survival, Donald, (2004, pg25). Depending on the use of the space, positive and negative emotions can be used to assist the brain to focus and deal with the task at hand or on being open, relax and potentially creative. The ability to transition between the negative and positive tapping into and alternating between the three levels gives the space a potentially engaging or dynamic feel to it, with a risk and reward mechanism.

In the context of spaces, an individual who turns into a long dark corridor would immediately notice it was dark. But when one looks at the end of the corridor and sees that the walls, floor and ceiling of the space, frames what seems like a well-lit open space at the end, with the sky and trees in the background over what seems like a parapet, hinting at a balcony. The individual notices the breeze being funneled down the corridor, and smells the salt in the air, hinting to a view of the sea. Dotted at consistent lengths are pockets of light being funneled from the sides, informing that the journey through the space would have pockets of relief, when the individual finally reaches the end of the space out into the balcony, one is rewarded with a beautiful view. Risk and rewards, this ability to utilize negative emotions and the willingness to overcome fear is most likely with the precedence of "security". No one in their right mind would attempt to ride a rollercoaster without safety and security in mind.

Identifying the emotions of Universal Design

The feelings and emotions of "security" will be the cornerstone on building the emotional principles of Universal Design, Why the feeling of "security"? It is derived by the existing 7 principles in which it uses physical guidelines to provide safety and security for people with special needs. As mention before, it only addresses this on a behavioural level, proving accessibility and assistants, but without tapping on to the reflective level, to some degree it does tap on the visceral level, especially in designing easy usage by using visually informative yet clear to read the designs especially for the visually challenge and old who have a weak sight, this normally translate into signs or other ways of providing information. But there is a mark difference between "feeling" secure and "being" secure. Understanding how the brain handles "risk management" helps us understand how we could potentially craft space which feels secure, and not as in its current state in Universal design, which focuses through its guidelines of "being secure".

In an online essay "The Psychology of Security, written by Bruce Schneier" a security technologist and author, he talks about how people perceive risk, and that feeling secure does not necessary mean they are (schneier, 2008). He seeks to understand why there is a divergence between perceived risk and what it really is. What his studies include which is of interest to this essay, is what could be considered the "key trigger" to having people feeling secure even it does not match up to the actual scenario or situation.

He concludes that "familiarity with it helped them see it differently", a good statement he brings up is that "Most people are less afraid of a risk they choose to take than of a risk imposed on them." A good example would be the choice of smoking compared to the negative reaction of a car driving by an individual with a faulty exhaust spewing smoke past them, Bruce, (schneier, 2008).

Understanding how people perceive risk and security and back up with the studies of Donald A. Norman and his studies on emotional design, we have a better understanding of how one could approach including positive emotional design into the core principles of Universal Design. Without definitive conclusion, It is been discussed that emotions and feelings have a difference but are closely link, but it can be summaries that objects draw and invoke emotions and that feelings are cumulating experiences of these emotions, (authentic-systems, 2009). With the basis of security as a desirable emotion, other feelings that can be generated would be confidence derive from the feeling of security, and through the feelings of confidence, there can be feelings of curiosity, which leads to discovery that which can generate the emotions of joy. To summarize it, be it emotions or feelings: Security, confidence, and joy.

Introducing Product Designer, Hartmut Esslinger

Figure 4 (Refer to reference list for image source)

Hartmut Esslinger (fig.4, shown above) was one of the leading designers and innovator of the concept of emotional design, helping Steve Jobs of Apple with his company Frog design Inc., create the Apple brand design formula of the simple to use, white and beautiful unison of software and hardware (Wikipedia, 2012). In his own words" I always felt that "form follows function"? Was a simplistic and misunderstood reduction of Sullivan's wider description, I also believe that "function" is a must, however humans always strived for a deeper meaning "(design-emotion, 2006). He believe that "function" was a given, yet humans always seek to express their self and seek deeper meaning, in a sense it could be seen as seeking a way to stimulate them on a reflective level and visceral level in reference to Donald A. Norman theory.

He created the "Snow White design language" for the mac computers, creating the illusion that it was smaller than it actually is using horizontal and vertical strips and varies shades of white as a colour choice, (Wikipedia, 2012). Because of his work, we enjoy the new apple products such as the IPAD and IPHONE which were clearly inspired from his earlier works with Apple. His designs made the user feel non - threatening to explore the devices giving a sense of comfort and approachability, with the emotions trigger, the user would naturally explore the device, assisting it in its usability, a great example of a designer who pioneered the concept of "Form Follows Emotion".

Case Studies

Figure 5 (Refer to reference list for image source)

(Fig.5, shown above) The first case study out of three will be Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore, winner of Presidents design award 2011 (designsingapore, 2012). Consisting of three buildings, which is of subsidized ward tower, private ward tower and medical centre. The site is linked with transitional spaces such as corridors and lobbies. Design by CPG consultants Pte Ltd, Designed with the concept of entering into a Shangri-La and not a conventional hospital, the building looks like an interconnected garden of Eden, design with patients and staff comfort in mind, not only successfully introducing universal design but sustainable designs conventions as well.

The design team collaborated with different government bodies and consultants of varies fields. One of the benefits of this is the integration of the existing Yishun Park (designandhealth, 2012). Design to not look like a conventional hospital with white dreary spaces by integrating greenery into it.

One of the key successes of the project was taking the "feelings" and views of a large groups of people, be it staff, patients, people with varies disabilities and special needs. Because of this study groups they could consider small details within the wards such as reduction of "door-closing" noise and location of "support points" for patients without using railings. The architects made a conscious effort to design the spaces to not look like clinical environments and integrating innovative eco-friendly features such as façade treatments which are design with the tropical climate into consideration with overhangs, high ceilings, solar and wind power considerations. The design also called for spaces which generate warm "cuddly" cozy feelings with "high touch" (designandhealth, 2012). This was done by organizing spaces into clusters in which you transition from one cluster to another, and spaces within this clusters or "villagers" had "high touch" or stimulating to the sense of touch through materials or choices of furniture within this clusters. This creates a sense of communal living within the spaces. This building is mostly design on a behavioural as well as visceral level creating a successful series of spaces, in given time it may even generate on a reflective level with its focus on community.

The second case study is Ed Roberts Campus, United States of America, designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, developed by 7 non-profit organizations that work with disabled people and additional funding by government grants, John, (SFGate, 2010). The design of the building attempts to include as many people as possible, Be they wheelchair bound, blind, old age and even people with epilepsy.

Figure 6(Refer to

Reference list for source)The design meets it largely on the behavioural level. Highly functional spaces which includes visual and tactile clues which assist the visually challenge to navigate and demark spaces, and the key feature of this building is the red spiral ramp suspended from the glass ceiling which greets the visitor as he enters the building (Fig. 6). The designers intended the ramp to serve as a functional and symbolic spirit of the building, as non-handicap and people with special needs can access the spaces together. At ends of corridors sound from fountains are used as a visual and sound landmark to assist visitors in their orientation. Though the building is highly functional the only space which is visually captivating would be the ramps, and

even that could be seen as unappealing depending on the perspective of the observer, but this was admitted by the designers to be not as high a priority compared to the whole, as quoted by William Leddy the designer "The more I did this project, the more I realized that good architecture is a social justice issue." John, (SFGate, 2010)

The third case study would be Orestad College, Denmark, designed by 3XNs an Architectural Firm. The building was nominated for the Mies Van der Rohe award 2009. It was design with the belief that architecture can shape "behavioural patterns", 3XN, (2010, pg28).

They intended to create spaces which the students as well as the teachers "took active responsibility for their own learning process and their collective working environment" (2010, pg28). The building is design with a visual stimulation and observation is paramount. As you enter the building, it becomes clear that you can view all the different levels and pockets of spaces from the entrance, and everyone else within this space can register your entrance as well. As you enter the wide central staircase, you will feel as quoted by a teacher working at the college, Ida Marie Klawonn "You take your first few steps on the wide, central staircase with a certain veneration - almost as if you're entering a cathedral of learning.", 3XN, (2010, pg37). (Fig. 7 & 8, shown below)

Figure 7 Figure 8

(Refer to reference list for image source)

The building hopes to place in students a love for self-learning, seeking knowledge independently through observation, and cultivating good relationships with the teachers, as because of the visual interactions, teachers are not too hard to locate. Areas of casual lounges are located intermittently between levels, in which students can gather and directly or indirectly learn from each other. This building uses space to cultivate a feeling of inspiration and curiosity through its layout and programs within these spaces. It reaches out to the users of the space viscerally, behavioural and reflectively".

By understanding the thought processes of designers be they architects, product designers or physiologist, we are able to identify patterns which would assist in designing spaces with universal design and the inclusion of feelings and emotional security in mind.

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