by Shaina Yang (MArch I ’21) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize, Master in Architecture I, and the Clifford Wong Prize in Housing Design
What does architecture designed for a completely different archetype of body look like? The thesis reimagines an architectural world so tailored to native use by the wheelchairing body—to the point where it might make the able-bodied feel discomfort, despite their being technically able to “access” it—that issues far beyond the limited purview of code come to the fore. Architectural form, motivated by the ramp, becomes a tool: for empathy, for liberation, for dialogue, for wonder. With its site located in the heart of respectable residential London, the thesis includes a range of public to private programs that deal with experiential equality, the inherent coloniality embedded in “universality,” urban context and inclusion that neither segregates nor subsumes, the right to beauty, the politicization of form, and a refusal to engage with the intellectual poverty of the adaptation mindset. By rejecting “access” altogether, it creates a cripped architecture for us, by us.