Monday, February 22, 2016

Designing a school for dual-impaired children

By: Alicia Luthy

Hello all!  Here we are approaching the fifth week of this semester.  The weeks seem to coming and going faster and faster. Some very important things are happening. We are currently in process of having our first review for our thesis. Also, did we seriously just apply for graduation already?! Time is passing by and graduation seems just around the corner. This week I have been working on finishing up site analysis, program, and concept. I have also been working on design considerations for my thesis. My thesis is designing a school for dual-impaired children. This purpose of the school is to teach students with one or more cognitive impairment and to help them gain confidence in carrying out daily activities. The building itself is to emphasize as many of the senses as possible. Some of the important design considerations include the relationship to the surrounding community, materiality, building orientation, and designing for the senses. One of the considerations I have been working with a lot is the building acoustics.
It is important to have good acoustic design. Echoing within a building like this can cause confusion and cause a student to become uncomfortable. However, a change in acoustics is a noticeable way to act as a change in space. Acoustic panels are important for both visual and hearing impairments. Where it is important to have low ceilings to reduce echoes, high ceilings are important for the design directed to the visually impaired. A square room with a flat ceiling is not ideal for a classroom for the dual-impaired because the sound would reverberate off the ceiling, then the wall, and come back. Reverberation often comes back louder as well. A better solution for the acoustics in relation to the ceiling is a slanted ceiling with acoustic panels at the peak to absorb some of the sound or a suspended ceiling with at least 2 or more feet so that the sound is absorbed. The suspended ceiling could also be made up of acoustic panels. The flooring also plays a big role in the echoing. In a hallway, hardwood floor could be helpful in navigation. Someone that is visually impaired and uses a cane can use the echoing on the floor to help with navigation and nearness to a space. However, in a classroom carpet or rubber flooring is more ideal so that there is not a lot of echoing or distractions in the learning environment. Also, a change in floor materials between the hallways and classrooms is a good key for navigation.

Well that is all for this week! Back to working on the thesis and running purely on coffee. 

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