Universal Design and other Design Dilemmas

This course will trace a topic at the intersection between Architecture, Interior Design and Industrial Design: Universal Design. While today it encompasses very specific principles, throughout history Universal Design has been explored through many guises in various design fields. The course will attempt to historicize Universal Design, by looking at its relationship with the bodily fixations of Ergonomics, the efficiency obsessions of Scientific Engineering and their unexpected impact on the development of building typologies. In addition, we will look at contemporary design practices across various fields as a means of understanding how designers have used Universal Design as a catalyst for invention. Until recently the Architectural profession has dealt with the American with Disabilities Act, as \”yet another set or regulations\” failing to understand its potential for transformation in building and spaces. At the other end of the spectrum, in the field of industrial design, arguments such as \”good for your body\” and \”easy to use\” have become marketing tools, as much as design devices. The course will look at the possibility of using Universal Design principles as yet another alibi in the design process. The course will explore three topics: First we will study the genealogy of building types were the ramp, the elevator and the escalator became engines for invention. Second, we will analyze interior spaces whose design historically has revolved around different ideals of how the body affects space. Case studies will include the Kitchen, the Bathroom, and the Work Place. Finally, we will look at products of industrial design whose conception was originally based in ergonomics and today has been has been modified by principles of Universal Design.Students will be required to design a project within one of the three categories listed above, and present it to the class.Grading will be based on the quality, inventiveness and questions posed by each student\’s design proposals over the course of the semester, in addition to energetic, enthusiastic and insightful class participation.The first class will meet on September 18th.Prerequisites: GSD 1201 or equivalent.