Sustainable and inclusive design: a matter of knowledge?

Heylighen, Ann. “Sustainable and Inclusive Design: a Matter of Knowledge?” Local Environment, vol. 13, no. 6, 2008, pp. 531–540., doi:10.1080/13549830802259938.

Ann Heylighen is a design researcher with a background in architectural engineering. Heylighen studied at KU Leuven and ETH Zürich, and obtained her MSc in Engineering: Architecture in 1996. In 2000 she obtained her PhD with a study of design knowledge embedded in design projects. As a research professor of design studies at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), she co-chairs the Resarch[x]Design group.

This article researches the disconnect between people who study architecture design, the practicing architects who did not attend school for it, and the users of these spaces. Academic research and knowledge into the design of city buildings frequently does not trickle down into the actual application of these places. Architects are usually considered to be experts in the design of buildings because they both study it and are users of buildings but they lack the insight of people who use the specific buildings they create. This article states that people with certain limitations or need are able to “detect misfits that most architects are not even aware of” and thus have a completely separate base of knowledge from the people who do not have these needs. There is a serious disconnect between these different groups that lead to cities being designed in ways that are exclusionary to many groups of people. This touches on the ways that there could be a stronger line of communication from the people through policy, but that it would be impossible to enact a policy that rightfully included all of the needs that are in existence. This disconnect is not exclusive to architecture, but architecture, in particular, fails to agree on if knowledge should come by doing or by higher education. This can be seen in graphic design as well.

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