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Body and disability in architectural research
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5295-2482
2009 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The experience of architecture is difficult to research due to that people often have their attention to other things than the built environment. Architecture then constitutes a frame for human experience, a matter of course difficult to describe and grasp. The body’s relationship with physical space is also evasive in nature. The experience of the body disappears when a person’s attention is directed to other things. However, the body reappears when a person is ill or disabled. It becomes describable and a focus for attention that makes it accessible to researchers. This paper presents the disabled body’s relationship with the physical environment illustrated by a research project of major adaptations of bathrooms of older and disabled people’s (client’s) private homes in London. The clients’ experiences of the adapted bathrooms revealed relationship between the body and the environment of great complexity, both prior to and after the adaptations were finished. These experiences revealed that illness and disability may manifest themselves in the micro scale of performances and interfere with the use of space in minute aspects as well as larger ones. They involved reflection on major and minor bodily performances in space, also simple acts which are hardly ever considered in many situations. The client’s had developed complex personalized strategies by which they tried to come to terms with bodily difficulties to which the adaptation was expected to provide the solution. These personalized strategies constituted efforts to embody the new environment.

More people than ever are reaching high ages. Architects already face the challenges of developing new housing alternatives for disabled and older people. Architectural research goes hand in hand with this. The body situated in its life-world is a conceptual tool of relevance to these studies of the architecture of the everyday in environmental gerontology and disability research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Architecture, Disability, Phenomenology
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-51328OAI: diva2:274174
Architecture and Phenomenology, Second International Conference, June 26-29, Kyoto Seika University, Japan
Available from: 2010-02-12 Created: 2009-10-27 Last updated: 2015-04-22Bibliographically approved

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