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Designing for Tomorrow: Creating Spaces that Welcome Everyone

What steps are we taking to guarantee that our spaces promote inclusivity? At the recent Disability Inclusive Infrastructure & Cities Summit, where I had the chance to speak on a panel, we explored global perspectives on creating inclusive infrastructure.


The conversation brought to light the obstacles that individuals with disabilities encounter and how our work as architects can either ease or worsen these challenges.


Disabilities manifest in ways, whether visible or hidden. Moreover, one out of every six people has some form of disability.  As humans, we all confront hurdles at various stages of life, be it due to ageing, childhood experiences, or cognitive issues. This change in demographics emphasises how essential it is to create environments that cater to everyone's needs. Inclusive design ensures that people can, and do, use spaces as much as possible without requiring special modifications or designs. Our effectiveness as architects hinges on how our design spaces cater to these requirements. We hold the power to shape the built environment and must leverage it to champion inclusivity. Designing for inclusivity in our changing society goes beyond installing ramps and wider doorways. It necessitates an approach that considers older individuals' cognitive and sensory needs. Elements such as slip flooring, adequate lighting and clear signage are pivotal. But inclusivity transcends adjustments; it involves crafting settings that nurture social connections, mental health and a sense of belonging.


Let's broaden our outlook and ensure that the pleasing spaces we craft are visually appealing, practical, and inviting for all. Did you know that in the UK, many individuals plan trips with someone who has a disability, whether it's noticeable or not? This fact underscores the significance of establishing spaces that accommodate all requirements. Technology brings in many possibilities such as apps that highlight where accessible spaces are and alert and act as a platform for feedback and response to emergencies? The spaces we design could be connected to the app to report on this feedback.


As architects, we have a unique opportunity to shape the future. Our success is not measured by the buildings we construct but by how users embrace and utilise the spaces and environments we have planned and built, even years after completion. Let's embrace this challenge and design spaces that are truly inclusive, ensuring everyone can enjoy and benefit from them. With our global population ageing and becoming more diverse, the demand for inclusive, accessible environments is increasingly pressing. We architects are at the forefront of this movement, creating spaces catering to individuals of every background—regardless of ethnicity, gender, or ability. This is not just about meeting regulations but about creating environments where experiences can be shared and enjoyed by all.