The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Architecture Beyond Sight

A central theme in BSSC's aim to re-think value for real estate is to challenge aspects of the current culture of built environment education and practice.

ABS Workshop
This asks whose values come to 'count' and who gets left out; how particular values and normative assumptions are inculcated and reproduced through educational and professional norms; and what needs to change in order to open up built environment study and employment to currently under-represented groups, as well as to voices from the wider community. The aims are to:  
  • Build partnerships and approaches beyond the profession and the academy;
  • Develop and test equitable, collaborative and cross-disciplinary ways of working that open up built environment disciplines to alternative and innovative understandings;
  • Enable people from under-represented and previously excluded groups to gain access to built environment subjects in a variety of ways;
  • Learn lessons from the perceptions and experiences of under-represented groups;
  • Promote debate about how built environment education and practice can become more inclusive

Architecture Beyond Sight project is a flagship project for this approach:

Architecture Beyond Sight (ABS) is a long-term project that aims to challenge architecture’s tendency to prioritise the visual over other senses. By enabling blind and partially sighted people to study architecture, it investigates how design can incorporate other ways of experiencing, imagining and creating space - ultimately for the benefit of everyone. Through a week-long intensive residential study week, blind and partially sighted students gain an insight into both studying and working in architecture or associated creative discipline, produce a presentation piece for their portfolio ahead of university or other applications, and learn ways of designing that go beyond the conventional visual emphasis predominant within mainstream architectural education and practice. The programme was commissioned by Prof. Alan Penn as Dean and was developed and tested from 2017-19 in collaboration with The DisOrdinary Architecture Project disordinaryarchitecture.co.uk. The current Dean, Christoph Lindner continues to support the course, although it has not been possible to run in 2020 because of the pandemic.

During the week foundation- level creative workshops are taught by blind and visually impaired architects, makers and artists, in collaboration with sighted Bartlett tutors and students, centred on conceptual thinking, design decision-making, spatial and atmospheric mapping and interpretation, making, and design communication. Together with personal and careers development advice (including how to make a university application if requested), students also receive follow-up mentoring sessions from dis/abled architectural practitioners and artists to support their own next steps. 

Architecture Beyond Sight aims to act as a 'sister' course to the Accelerate programme (for year 12 and 13 students), as part of The Bartlett commitment to increase diversity across architecture; underpinned by the Bartlett Promise that offers bursaries to under-represented and low-income applicants who successfully enter undergraduate architecture courses.

Development Planning workshop video (by Tim Copsey):

Vimeo Widget Placeholderhttps://vimeo.com/296974975

Development Planning workshop podcast (by Gavin Griffiths)

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July 2019 Study Week film by Anna Ulrike Andersen 'Architecture Beyond Sight

Vimeo Widget Placeholderhttps://vimeo.com/354967146


Guardian review: Can blind people make great architects?