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• Ekincioglu, M., 2020, Architectural Design Thinking and Practice for All, online presentation (in-between Boston-Istanbul), the Beykent University-Department of Architecture, (Faculty of Engineering and Architecture), May 22. 
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I was very delighted to be invited by Dr. Nilay Evcil, former woman head of department at the Beykent University-Department of Architecture (2016-2014) and former woman vice dean at Beykent University-Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (2007-2006) (1) in order to make an online presentation to her brilliant architecture students at the Beykent University-Department of Architecture in Istanbul. Working on critical topics at the intersections between architecture, universal design, and accessibility for all for a long time, she has extensive international and national published scholarly essays, books and a well-known academic (woman) speaker (2) on those issues in order to raise scholarly, architectural, social and cultural awareness, in particular, by underlying the importance of universal design for historical places attracting tourists.
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In order to widen architecture students' understanding of a. essential principles and b. current potential of universal design in the context of (pandemic) architecture while we have been witnessing lots of disparities in architecture and society in terms of using and accessing architectural and urban spaces (such as hospitals, etc.), my online lecture focused on the following objectives and topics:
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• Vital importance of equity and inclusion in architecture;
• The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990;
• Universal design for medical care;
• Universal design for social justice;
• Universal design for wellness.
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With this framework, I firstly indicated the vital importance of “equity” and “inclusion” in today’s architecture education and profession in order to be able to internalize “universal mindset in architecture (design) thinking and professional practice”. Underlying some recent data and surveys by ACSA and AIA in order to clearify the recent gap in gender, race, ethnicity, etc. in the multicultural US architecture, I emphasized why architecture education and professional practice should be more inclusive and equal within themselves to develop design principles, methods and strategies for “all” members in society; in particular by considering “the acute impacts of pandemics” on every people. Secondly, I elaborated some essential design criteria for “access to medical care for individuals with mobility disabilities” along with “ADA” (3) since it has been one of the most critical issues during COVID-19. Within this context, I also indicated how some recent technological inventions can be incorporated into universal design approach in architectural design thinking; such as “machine learning”, “spatial intelligence” platforms, “data and design tools” using data analytics to understand how people move through architectural spaces and environments; such as “SocialDistance.ai” developed by Pathr (4) or “Sasaki’s Data and Design Tools team” working with some nonprofit healthcare provider, like Salud Digna in Mexico (5). Such technology-based products, platforms and tools can contribute to new and more effective methods and strategies in universal design in order to a. predict movements of people with disabilities in different architectural functions, and b. create more equitable, inclusive spaces and built environments for them. Thirdly, I focused on “social justice” in architectural design thinking and practice because it has been another critical topic for minorities, underrepresented and low-income people as the time of COVID-19 has clearly showed all of us. Defining “social justice” in architectural design (thinking and practice) to support “access to housing, education, healthcare, transportation, and other resources in society for all groups that have been excluded from full participation, I presented “THREAD: Artists' Residency and Cultural Center in Senegal” (6)  under the architectural leadership of Toshiko Mori, the first woman professor to obtain her tenure at the Harvard University-GSD in 1995, and the first woman chair of this school in between 2002-2008. Finally, I briefly shared “the USO Warrior and Family Center at Walter Reed in Bethesda, Maryland”, the recipient of the AIA-DC Presidential Citation for Universal Design in 2014, and the AIA-DC Presidential Citation for Design and Wellbeing in 2015: In order to extend the awareness of health in universal design, my purpose was to draw attention various communites and groups in society, such as wounded soldiers, their families and caregivers. Having cognitive and physical disabilities, it is a clear that there are different categories of people with their architectural needs, and in particular, their concerns for wellbeing and health issues might become more important during infectious disease, etc. In this respect, universal design can help architectural designers to improve more holistic approach for those people by creating flexible and simple spaces with perceptible information, low physical effort, appropriate size for use, etc. (7).
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Finally, I think that this online architectural connection “in-between” Boston and Istanbul was another great opportunity for us to remember how “we, all architects regardless of our different time zones, physical locations are connected, can share and exchange our knowledge” for a better world. It was also so delightful moments for me to learn Dr. Nilay Evcil’s in-depth and extensive research studies on accessibility and universal design examples not only in leading historical places/sites in Turkey but also around the world. I am really looking forward to listening to her scholarly and architectural voices much more in order to make progress together in more inclusive and equitable architecture.
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With my thanks to Dr. Nilay Evcil and all her brilliant architecture students who participated in this online connection!
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Notes and Rerences:
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1.See for this information: https://akademik.beykent.edu.tr/nilaye/idari-gorevler, last accessed on 5.20.2020.
2.See for her books: https://akademik.beykent.edu.tr/nilaye/kitaplar; for her essays: https://akademik.beykent.edu.tr/nilaye/makaleler; for her academic presentations: https://akademik.beykent.edu.tr/nilaye/bildiriler; theses under her advisorship: https://akademik.beykent.edu.tr/nilaye/yonetilen-tezler; for her awards: https://akademik.beykent.edu.tr/nilaye/oduller, last accessed on 5.20.2020.
3. For “Access to Medical Care for Individuals with Mobility Disabilities: https://www.ada.gov/medcare_mobility_ta/medcare_ta.htm, last accessed on 4.24.2020.
4. For Pathr, https://pathr.ai, last accessed on 5.18.2020; for “Socialdistance.ai”, an AI solution created by Pathr, https://socialdistance.ai/; for its news by MIT, Winn, Z., 2020, “MIT-affiliated companies take on Covid-19”, http://news.mit.edu/2020/mit-companies-covid-19-0326, http://news.mit.edu/2020/mit-companies-covid-19-0326, 26 March; last accessed on 5.18.2020; for its video: “Outbreak”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLUbb-FdWRW7vrPcJ3IHA-2bc8V-Nvv0zE&time_continue=2&v=uE9T9MQWPwg&feature=emb_logo, last accessed on 5.18.2020; “Pandemic vs. Increased Social Distance”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpESTjd8Nu4&list=PLUbb-FdWRW7vrPcJ3IHA-2bc8V-Nvv0zE&index=2; last accessed on 5.18.2020.
5. See for this project, https://www.sasaki.com/voices/expanding-healthcare-access-through-data-driven-growth/, last accessed on 4.24.2020.
6. See for this project, http://www.tmarch.com/2663, last accessed on 5.20.2020.
7. See for this project, https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/accessible/universal-design-health, last accessed on 5.20.2020.

 

 

 
 

 

 
Ekincioglu, M. (speaker), 2020, Online Talk with Architecture Students at Istanbul Technical University (with 20 participants), April 7th.
This online presentation in-between Boston and Istanbul was for architecture students at the course on universal design and conducted by Dr. Nilay Evcil, former woman head of department at the Beykent University-Department of Architecture (2016-2014) and former woman vice dean at Beykent University-Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (2007-2006). In terms of universal design principles, focal point of my online presentation was “equaitable use” of architectural and urban space without ignoring other aspects of this design approach, such as a. flexibility in use, b. simple and intuitive use, c. perceptible information, d. tolerance for error, e. low physical effort, f. appropriate size and space for approach and use.