Accessible Design
School for mentally challenged people
Hi everybody,

Here I am looking forward for some guidance from senior architects.

Recently I have got an opportunity to design a school for mentally challenged people. I have already submitted the basic proposal. The promotor of the project are on the same field since long and they have approved the concept and design. Still, I don't want to take a chance to go wrong anywhere.

Would anyone like to share critical design issues on this building type ?

If your knowledge about this issue is really helpful, I would like you to join with me as associate architect.
Vishal Vyas
School for mentally challenged people
Hi Vishal,

I'm a final year student, planning to do a school for the mentally impaired for my thesis. Can you tell me more about the one you've submitted the proposal for... Like the requirements and the location. There is one that came up in Bangalore last year, so maybe you could check that for design issues. Thanks,
Nithya Jeyakumar
School for mentally challenged people
Hello Vishal,

I am a final year student and I've taken a centre for mentally challenged as my thesis topic. The centre will have the facility of hostel, too. But I am lacking information regarding the space requirements (for classroom as well as for other facilities). For case study also I couldn't find a proper school designed specially for them. So, if you could help me with any information. Thank you,
Mallika Shakya
School for mentally challenged people
Hey Mallika,

One of my seniors once did her thesis on this topic. I think that you'll find quite a lot of information from UNESCAPE. They have a good website and are quite helpful.

I'm also looking for thesis projects, and I'm interested in barrier-free architecture. I wondered if you could send me a few details of the project that you're doing. Is it a live project? Thanks,
Megha Jain
School for mentally challenged people
Well Vishal,

My stepfather has donated his time and energy to the mentally challanged for most of his natural life. I was encouraged to participate in his charities.

While I have never dealt with a project envolving the mentally handicaped, I do have just a few ideas on how to maybe start, if you hadn't thought of them already. Also, I would like to share my thoughts on what I have observed...

1. Researching basic "generalized" responses to color, shape, light, and first initial awareness of space. This would be for any person of any capacities. - because there is probably more tested knowledge here. Searching for the same things in a narrower scope might limit you. We don't know anything about mental disorders really. Its all guess on the most part. This will give you a larger test for comparisons and your own conclusions and theories.

2. Mentally handicapped as a topic is very broad. There are many different types and levels of the mentally handicapped. (Another narrow) - Maybe, narrow your studies to proposing a space for a related or similar disorders. This frees you as a designer to concentrate on less points than something that involves such an abyss of knowledge. Those specific points on how these singled out aspects of mental disorders perceive environs may lead you to a true "jump" in design. When many approach a project we tend to focus on the largessness and encompassing perception of the whole. If, I'm allowed to quote for a minute "The whole is a sum of its parts" and "God is in the details." Allow your findings and inspiration thereof, on very zoned in ideals, to eminate to the rest of your design.

3. The mentally handicapped thrive on safety/ reasurrance/ and repetition without becoming stagnant. There is a dicodamy (sp?- see my profile) between those points. It is like finding the shape that truely is centered between a circle and a square.

- Well, I can go on forever. I hate to say things people already know, so I'll stop here and let me know what you think. bg.
Bonnie Gorman
School for mentally challenged people
Hi Megha,

Actually, it's not a live project, but I'm working on the vision of one of the CBR here. Can you send me the website of UNESCAPE?

I do have a manual on barrier-free design (Disability Access Standards and other is Accessibility for the Disabled- a design Manual for Barrier free Environment) which I hope will help you. If you don't have it, I can send it you. Please give me your mailing address.

Have you checked the book Designing for Disability by Selwyn Goldsmith?

Mallika Shakya
School for mentally challenged people

I am a student of architecture designing a vocational institute for mentally challenged in Delhi for my architectural thesis.

I am a little lost as to the special spatial requirements of such an institute. I'm also seeking guidelines, case examples; any help will be much appreciated.

Thank you,
Priyanjali Sarkar
School for mentally challenged people

I am designing a centre for children with special needs for my thesis, looking especially at autism, M.R. and learning disabilities. I looked at Oswal House in Pune for my case study. There is also a school for children with special needs (mentally challenged) in Mumbai-Dilkush, Juhu...

Can I get more details on the spatial requirements of the same?
Sreedevi Ajayan
School for mentally challenged people
To everyone, may I add a word or two of caution. It would probably be better to gain advice from the people who work in such schools than to base a design upon one or more architectural articles.

I say the above, because there is a similar field, that of vunerable adults such as the frail and elderly. I have both seen and read too many times how people like these are not consulted and the design then causes them problems.

Personally, I would use cloister-type courtyards to maximise the use of enclosed but open-air spaces.
Frank John Snelling
School for mentally challenged people
I wanted to point out a case study that I came across: Abdel Hadi Debs School for Mental Development, Baabda, Lebanon.

Perhaps others can add more case studies so that we can make this a good resource for anyone else doing research on this topic.
Ozgur Basak Alkan
School for mentally challenged people
hello everybody...
my thesis topic is same as of vishal....

can anyone suggest me any books or manuls on it or can tell the exact website of UNESCAPE.....
Avneet Kaur
School for mentally challenged people
hi...i m also tryin to look on a topic like this for thesis.....
rehabilitation center for mentally challenged...
but there are so many categories in it...
can any of u help me with the categories of rehabilitation centers in which architecture contribution is more....
Application of the psychological aspects in designing spaces to improve the mental condition of people is what i m looking forward to...
so plz do tell me its scope
Subin Umar Rahman
School for mentally challenged people
guys even i m doing my thesis on this topic...please let me know the exact site of UNESCAPE...n some more case studies for my and others knowledge...
Gawaksh Sethi
School for mentally challenged people
Bonnie, Please forgive me, but I was amused (in a light hearted way) by your spelling of "dicodamy".

My Oxford English Dictionary has the word Dichotomy = division (especially sharply defined) into two.

Given that you are American and speak and hear American English and read and write mostly English English.

Then the source of your spelling comes from the almost universal way in which Americans pronounce certain sounds in a lower register than in English English. P becomes B, C becomes G and T becomes D

I suspect this why the word Dollar(which comes I believe from the coin "Thaler" and pronounced T`aler in Continental Europe) is used in America and another prime example is pardner for partner.

Similarly, in spoken American English, "the rider of a horse" and "a writer of words" sound exactly the same (rider and rider).
Frank John Snelling
School for mentally challenged people
Hello everybody,
My thesis topic School For Mentally Challenged Children. done with the case studies but are not relevant to do the area analysis, i need some help for the areas, and also the different spaces which may help the children to develop their skills.
Deepika Rustagi, 5th yr.
Deepika Rustagi
School for mentally challenged people
@ deepika.
the best thing for you would be to visit any school or organization of such a kind. sit there and just observe these childrens day after day. u will get all your answers. good luck
Meehaj Thakkar
School for mentally challenged people
Hi all, I'm doing my thesis on this topic too.I need a lot of help here..I need case studies and some help in areas' analysis...if anyone can help plz
Yasmin Saeid
School for mentally challenged people
hi everyone,
could someone help me with getting information about the space requirements?? im having a hard time finding one. and what is the website for UNESCAPE. i cant seem to find it
Nur Aishah Zaharie
School for mentally challenged people
It would be brilliant if someone could let us know what the website for Unescape is. Also Vishal, how did your thesis go? What were the challenges you faced? Could you tell me if you reached a solution? managed to find any issues with the subject apart from the fact that they are in existence in small numbers and are not so well equipped to train and educate.
Sayontani Chateerji


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