Design, Space + Communication

If Braille Were A Building

Project: School of music for the visually impaired.

Site: Undetermined verdant site (Singapore).

Program: Administrative facilities, learning facilities, lobby, total gross area 380 m2.

Description: The project was to design a small to medium-sized specialist school for specific target group of persons. It was decided that the detailed brief would be to design a music school for the visually impaired (legally blind). Research was carried out first on the subject of the navigation of visually impaired persons within different environments and the techniques that are employed by these persons to facilitate their movements and activities, with the goal of understanding the extent to which their other sensory faculties of smell, hearing and touch continue to aid them in their daily life. Secondly, an investigation was made, looking at what kind of facilities would be necessary in a school of music. Information and ideas generated from these studies were put together in the generation of the final design solution for the building.

Solution: The Design Approach consists of three main ideas — 1. A plan of simple layout that would be easy to internalize after few repeated explorations by a blind person; 2. The plan would be composed of distinct “landmarks” and obvious visual cues so that positional relationships of objects in space may be understood and remembered; 3. The design of spaces with varying acoustical qualities to facilitate the application of Human Echolocation skills. The resulting building may be described simply as a linear form punctuated by separate blocks.