Enhancing the Built Environment for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders – Lisa Marchi

Image source: “Awning (PSF)” by Pearson Scott Foresman – Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation→This file has been extracted from another file: PSF A-60004.png.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Awning_(PSF).png#/media/File:Awning_(PSF).png

A useful short article by Lisa Marchi of HKS Architects. She summarizes the issues involved in designing built environments for autistic users, gives a list of recommendations, and includes some useful links for further information.


An Architecture for Autism

As a young architect, Magda Mostafa was given the task of designing an educational centre for autism. She searched the research literature for autistic-friendly design guidelines, and found very little. So she did her own research from the ground up, and published her findings in An Architecture for Autism, the most-downloaded article from the International Journal of Architecture Research for 2012. For more on Magda, check out this interview with her from ArchDaily.

Designing Autism-Friendly Schools

A brief but informative article on designing schools for autistic children. Some argue that design accommodations should not be made for autistics, because they ought to learn to adapt to ‘normal’ environments. I would suggest that most ‘normal’ environments are badly designed even for ‘normal’ users, and designs specifically for autistics would benefit non-autistics as well. Read the following tips from the article and ask yourself, ‘wouldn’t these be good for any school, with or without autistic students?’:

…a simple and easily understood route for getting from A to B

…bright light and glare should be avoided

…calm and non-stimulating colours, unfussy and non-reflective finishes

Article first published in SEN Magazine issue 46: May/June 2010. The author Christopher Beaver is a partner in GA Architects: www.autism-architects.com, which specialises in architecture for autistic users.