Architecture Thesis Studio 09

Designing with neurodiversity:
housing solutions that embrace difference

Studio leaders: Dr Kirsten Day and Dr Andrew Martel

“We need to see autism in context. It is the context that defines whether the autistic thinking is a deficit or an asset. The question is not whether autism is a disability or not. The question is: where and when does it prevent the person from being happy and flourishing.”

Peter Vermeulen

This studio will investigate housing options for people on the autism spectrum. In particular, students will in-vestigate ways in which the Arizona based “A Place in the World” housing model can be adapted and applied to Melbourne. The studio will work with not-for-profit organisations looking to bring the model to Melbourne, and elsewhere in Australia, and so the studio outcomes will need to respond to client expectations, meet all building and planning regulations, and be cost effective in terms of overall building size, number of apart-ments, building materials and construction method used. Most importantly, however, the internal design of the apartments must recognize the neurodiversity of the client group and respond to enhance the happiness and personal flourishing of the residents.

This studio uses real sites and projects as a frame to explore and investigate optimum housing solutions for people on the autism spectrum, and people with intellectual disabilities more generally. The research compo-nent will focus on understanding the nature of disabilities like autism – including understanding positive behav-iours as well as triggers to unsocial behaviour. In particular, the studio will examine how the built environment can contribute to the health, safety, and well-being of people with disabilities. Like all involvement with people with disabilities, the key themes are choice, control, participation, and inclusion. Appropriate housing is critical to allow people on the autism spectrum to contribute to their fullest extent to family and community life. At the end of the studio, students will have designed a mixed-use, mid-rise apartment complex which includes design features derived from their research that responds to the needs of this diverse group of residents

Architecture 2021_winter