Title: Towards universal university buildings
Authors: Heylighen, Ann ×
Michiels, Sam
Van Huffel, Sabine #
Issue Date: Nov-2006
Publisher: Belgian Building Research Institute (BBRI)
Host Document: Universal Design for Buildings: Tools and Policy pages:41-49
Conference: POLIS location:Bruges date:16 November 2006
Abstract: The paper presents a recent initiative at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven)
that explores ways to stimulate knowledge exchange between building users and
professionals. Within the context of the university’s diversity policy, students of the
Architecture department and professionals of the Technical Services (TS) and
Environment Health & Safety Service (EHS) team up with personnel and students with
disabilities to assess the ‘universality’ of the campus. The aim is to map those factors in
the built environment that (could) act as obstacles, and to look for architectural concepts
to address them. By way of a first step, TS and EHS professionals inventoried available
norms and guidelines, and distilled out of these a ‘K.U.Leuven norm’, at some points
more stringent than the legal norm, which henceforth will apply to all new build and
rebuild projects on campus. As we write, four architecture students are checking this
norm against the reality of current university buildings, but also against the experiences
of building users with various disabilities. In the short run, this initiative should provide
disabled students and personnel with a mechanism to communicate their views and
insights with current and future professionals. The concrete norm acts as a vehicle to
disseminate an inclusive frame of mind, and to trigger motivation in a stimulating rather
than a pedantic way. In the long run, it should produce a guide that provides
professionals who (re)build on campus with well-founded support to translate the
K.U.Leuven norm architecturally. Judging from our limited experience so far, sensitisation
goes surprisingly smoothly when policy makers explicitly encourage design for all. This
facilitates the development of an inclusive policy by creating a broad basis of
enthusiasts—both professionals and users—who take ownership of the initiative.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IC
Appears in Collections:Department of Architecture - miscellaneous
Informatics Section
ESAT - STADIUS, Stadius Centre for Dynamical Systems, Signal Processing and Data Analytics
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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