The Death and Life of Social Factors in Environmental Design pages:66-83
In this chapter I consider the experience of being or becoming disabled—henceforth referred to as disability experience—a resource for expanding our understanding of space in general, and for addressing the idea of the social in space in particular. Conceptions of disability have shifted considerably over the past decades, while the explorations are still ongoing, both within and beyond the field of disability studies. Nonetheless in this chapter I hope to build on this shift to explore not so much what architecture can bring to disability studies, but rather how disability experience can inform or challenge prevailing ways of understanding and designing architecture. After outlining the shift that has taken place in thinking about disability, I, therefore, unravel how the material and social together configure everyday experiences and practices of disabled people. In doing so, I attempt, in line with the work of Ingunn Moser (2005, 689), to “articulate and make visible and present the actually existing alternatives.” As I will demonstrate, the alternative socio-material configurations following disability experience are not outside of the social, they just differently reassemble the social. Therefore, I argue in this chapter that the social is not apart from or external to either person or built environment, but enacted in the relation between both.