Wednesday, June 15, 2022

How architecture can change autistic children’s lives.

Authored by Fast Company

Imagine wearing a hearing aid on its highest setting and being unable to make any adjustment. You can hear the speech of the person next to you—but, at the same volume, you hear birdsong through an open window, the air-conditioning whirring above, and the traffic droning outside. The difference in the layers of sound cannot be filtered, and cacophony results. Combine this with some of your senses being crossed or scrambled, rather like a poor telephone connection, and you start to appreciate how some people on the autistic spectrum encounter the world. It is small wonder that productive teaching of an autistic child presents a challenge.

Within our living spaces, all of us are bombarded with an array of stimulating sensory inputs—sound, smell, touch, taste, movement—and a never-ending deluge of visual information. Many people manage to filter and cope, but people with autism encounter the world differently. Sensory difficulties can cause hypersensitivity (sense too much), hyposensitivity (sense too little), or combinations of both. The environment becomes a confusing place when one attempts to process “too much information.” Unexpected changes cause anxieties, which are challenging to manage, and the level of stimuli can tip the balance, to cause sensory overload, sometimes misinterpreted as a tantrum.

An optimized learning environment is vital for every child. For autistic children, the importance of environment is magnified, as are the benefits that can be achieved through appropriate architecture and design.

Over the past five years, I’ve been conducting research into how to teach the design of autism environments to future designers, with eight case-study schools and colleges. The research has identified a number of ways schools can adjust spaces to help children and young people with autism cope with their surroundings and, therefore, learn more effectively.


In particular, the recommendations take into account the value to autistic people of preparation before an activity, as this allows information to be processed at an individual’s required rate. This gives children time to understand what is expected of them. It also reduces anxieties, provides reassurance, and enhances learning receptivity.


Make the most of any open alcoves or recesses. Clear any small spaces “under the stairs” or in an outside area, providing an opportunity to stand back, process information, and recalibrate. It could mean removing a door from a shallow cupboard or locating a “pop up” tent. This is particularly important when moving from one building to another—when the difference between environments is significant.

An existing alcove providing an opportunity to pause and control the amount of incoming information. [Photo: courtesy of the author]


A main entrance may be too busy, so provide a quieter, alternative side entrance. Schools can also help by establishing a slow longer route from the playground to classrooms, as well as a quick short route—again, giving both choice and time to process information.

Equally, softening the boundary from an internal to an external space can also help. An external canopy, for example, can create an ideal outdoor learning space to help with anxieties surrounding sudden sensory change.


Some children have anxiety and ritualistic behaviors and may want to spend time returning to a space they have just occupied, for reassurance. If strategically placed openings are provided, they do not need to go back physically to this space for reassurance—they can look back from a short distance. This allows more time for learning in the classroom.


Schools should also look at offering activities that emulate real-life tasks, as this will help autistic children to see patterns and connections with things. A simple mock-up shop, for example, both inside the classroom and outside in the playground, could help children learn how to generalize the skill of exchanging payment for goods, across differing environments.


What are known as “taster spaces” are also a great idea, as these can offer children an area to spend time participating in a pre-activity which helps them to explore part of a bigger activity in a smaller way.

Introducing the touch of water, via shallow channels chiseled into the floor. [Photo: courtesy of the author]
This can help children to build up to the final activity—such as playing a percussion wall before playing an instrument, or relating to a water channel before immersion in a pool.

As these ideas show, the need to encourage a richer learning experience, in a regulated responsive environment, is paramount for autistic children and young people. An essential consideration is that no two autistic people experience their environments in the same way, so there is no one approach or solution to sensory issues. But small, individually led adjustments (like those outlined above) can make a material difference and really help to improve learning and the quality of life for autistic children and their families.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

The Harvard GSD offers a free introduction to Architecture

Ever fancied yourself as an architect? Harvard University is offering you the chance to live out that fantasy. Well, sort of. 'The Architectural Imagination' is an online course now on offer from the university's Graduate School of Design (GSD), and whilst it won't give you the necessary accreditations to design buildings, it does promise to offer a fascinating introduction to the world of architecture.

The first module of the course will teach skills such as architectural drawing and architectural typology through a series of videos and exercises. Focusing on materials and technology, the second module aims to illustrate how architecture has the power to transform raw materials into beautiful factors of a landscape's overall aesthetic. The third and final module takes a more anthropological approach, examining the role of architecture in society as well as its ability to bring about social change. The course is free (if you want a certificate at the end it's $100) and you can start any time you like.

Thursday, May 19, 2022


What Is An Architect? 

Article from Forbes Home

Many people know that Frank Lloyd Wright was a famous architect and that the job of architect entails designing buildings. However, architects do much more than design aesthetically pleasing buildings: Architects plan, design and oversee the construction of various structures. They are professions that take extensive coursework, receive on-the-job training and take a rigorous exam in order to practice.

Education and Training for Architects

Architects are professionals trained in the art and science of building design. They develop the concepts for structures and turn those concepts into images and plans, which eventually may become homes, office buildings and other facilities. Their work involves more than just the appearance of a structure. Everything architects design must be functional, safe and meet the needs of the people who utilize them.

Architects’ Job Requirements

An architect must earn a professional degree from an accredited university or college. They typically focus on curriculum in architectural history and theory, building design, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), construction methods, math, physical sciences and other liberal arts courses.

People entering a career in architecture who want to receive an architecture degree and obtain licensure have two study options:

  • B.Arch—This is a five-year program intended for students entering college from high school or with no previous architectural training.
  • M.Arch—This can be either a two or three-year post-college program of students or professions with pre-professional degrees (like an associate’s) in other disciplines or related areas.

Upon completion of undergraduate or postgraduate programs, architects must complete a three-year internship before taking the Architect Registration Examination administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, or NCARB. This exam is designed to test the knowledge and skills regarding architecture to become a licensed architect. Most states require licensure and continued education to remain in compliance. Architects’ duties fall into three main roles:

Consult and Design

The architect consults with clients to determine their requirements and to prepare drawings and specifications of the concept. The designs must comply with building, safety and local planning regulations and restrictions. Regular client meetings are involved in discussing design proposals.


During this phase, the architect captures the design on paper. They create detailed drawings with CADD technology to ensure the feasibility of the design. There may be several revisions and redrawings of the designs to meet the clients’ needs. Once the design is approved, it is translated into construction instructions and technical specifications for construction experts to carry on site.


During this phase, the architect visits the construction site and meets with the construction crew to review the construction, signing off on various pieces of work, negotiating with contractors if needed, and helping to any problems that arise.

How much does it cost to hire an architect?

Architects charge between $125 to $225 per hour on average. The cost can vary due to the project’s duration and extent, but customers spend between $8,000 to $15,000 total on basic conceptual architectural design services on average.

What is the difference between an architect and an architectural designer?

Architects are licensed professionals that have obtained accreditation and passed the Architect Registration Examination administered by the NCARB. Architectural designers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in architecture and can design buildings, but they are not licensed. Moreover, there are design architects who are licensed architects but choose to only work with the design aspect and not the construction.

What is the difference between a civil engineer and an architect?

Civil engineers and architects plan and design structures. However, civil engineers focus solely on the safety of the structure. Architects deal with the aesthetics and functionality of the structural work. Civil engineers and architects often work with each other. Civil engineers analyze and evaluate the structural integrity of the design that the architect creates.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Who was the first architect?

Thinking about the first architect in history

The first architect in history was the Egyptian Imhotep; born 27th century BCE, Memphis, Egypt. Imhotep was the designer of the Step Pyramid (Pyramid of Djoser). He is thought to be the first architect to use columns for support. In addition, Imhotep was the inventor of a smooth stone dressing (finish material) on buildings.

Architects, unique artists

Imhotep defined who was an architect and was compared to Ptah-TaTanen, the Egyptian architect of the universe.

In his time, architects were considered unique artists, so creative and inventively intellectual they were honored as adjuncts to the royal family. Imhotep was the Egyptian chief of engineering and prime minister of the crown.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Importance of Architecture

The Importance of Architecture

By Young & de la Sota Achitects

A brief of Architectural History
Throughout history, architecture has created the physical environment which people occupy, but architecture also defines the space around it. The built environment is part of the essence of our culture. It exemplifies who we are and how others see us. 

Architecture is not only a reflection of a society, it is often influenced by climate, available materials, and a population that includes artisans skilled to erect the building. 
Even in our current epoch, architecture is most successful when it responds to the context within which it is formed.