A CONTEST has been announced by EKansh Trust and Brick School of Architecture (BSA) that seeks to sensitise budding designers to adopt a more inclusive outlook to their designs. Titled ‘Beyond Disabilities, Infinite Possibilities – A competition in Barrier-Free Design for Built Spaces’, the contest invites entries from civil engineering and architecture students.
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About the idea behind the contest, Anita Narayan, managing trustee and founder of EKansh Trust, said, “The fact is that established architects get away with what they call good design without catering to people with different needs. Universal design as a principle is only just about finding ground in India. EKansh Trust was part of the CONSTRO exhibition in Pune last year and many civil engineering students who visited our stall were unaware of the different terms and features of universal or barrier-free design like tactile flooring, ideal gradients for ramps, colour contrasts, etc; it was quite shocking.”
She said that while planning from the start is easy, retrofitting for accessibility is both expensive and difficult to do keeping aesthetics and the old structures in mind.
While this is the second time the contest is being announced, first such contest was held in 2009. So far, nine registrations have been made for the contest, though entries or submissions of designs, which will be received by January 1. Talking about the 2009 contest, Narayan said, “We were new and not many colleges really understood the needs of people with disabilities that time. We had seven entries that year. The sample site then was Pu La Deshpande Udyaan. We had no established or popular standards in India to go by back then.” Narayan hopes that the PMC Garden Department will be receptive to the winning designs.
“EKansh was founded as a result of the inaccessibility in our built spaces in different parts of India and the fact that though the West isn’t perfect, they have recognised the need for universal design,” she said.