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Advanced Autism Research and Care Centre

Project Type

Undergraduate Architecture Thesis

My Role

Researcher
Architect

Tools

Case Studies

Project Duration

5 Months
Secondary Research
Contextual Interviews
Affinity Mapping
CAD
Sustainability Analysis
SWOT Analysis

This project demonstrated how the built environment can play a role in reducing the suffering and trauma of Autistic individuals. I designed an empathetic and sensitive threshold of spaces for the smooth transition of Autistic individuals from this safe sanctuary to vocational training and in-turn to the outside world.

NDRS Redevelopment

Overview

Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder of profound social disconnect rooted in early brain development. It refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. Symptoms can range from mild to very serious. It’s a big challenge before our society as most recent reviews tend to estimate a prevalence of 1–2 such cases per 1,000 of population.

 

Even I have a case of severe ASD in my family. The experience is very painful and traumatic. So this issue is very close to my heart and I want to do whatever I can, in my own capacity, to ameliorate the trauma of the artistic child and the family.

Project Area

8000 sqm.

Location

S.A.S. Nagar, Punjab, India

Building Type

Institution
Overview
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Blind Spots

Designing for Autism

There is no known cure for this disorder. Emphasis is on safety, self-sufficiency, rehabilitation and on managing the triggers of excitement. Combination of strategies like treatment, therapies, education for cognitive development, skill training and positive calming environment are employed towards this end.

Through this thesis, I propose to explore as to how the built environment can assist comfortable living, growth and rehabilitation of autistic children and encourage them to participate in class and social interaction. This will be achieved through research on the built environment, autistic behavior and the role of natural light, color, smell, temperature and sound control to create a safe, interactive and engaging learning environment.

 

I believe that with empathetic and sensitive design, the built environment can play a significant role in reducing suffering and trauma of autistic children and help them in the path of growth and self-sufficiency

Establishing a Design Criterion

The first step of the exercise was to research certain Principles—elements that aid Austistic individuals in a built-environment and guide design of this research centre. 

There is a dearth of research on how an ideal built-environment can cater to the needs of people with ASD. Some controlled experiments have resulted in a number of design criteria compiled by architects around the world. I later used these as a basis for designing

Case Studies

I chose two local schools as Case Studies and also an international school for learning how spaces, elements and functions are distributed and if I could learn something from the problems that those buildings are currently facing.

Functional Diagrams

From Case Studies, Area Programs & Contextual Interviews I mapped the relationship of spaces and their tangible and intangible features to co-relate functions, spaces and scale.

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Site, Massing & Concept

User Research

From Case Studies, Area Programs & Contextual Interviews I mapped the relationship of spaces and their tangible and intangible features to co-relate functions, spaces and scale.

Building Technologies and Design

Building Technologies
  1. Primary Building Material - Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB)

  2. Structural Elements - CSEB Composite Beams and Columns

  3. Roof - Ferrocement Channel Roof

Green Technologies
  1. . Water Conservation & Management - Low Cost Plumbing Fixtures, min.hardscapes & rain water harvesting

  2. Solar Energy Utilization - Installation of PV Panels & Solar Assisted Water heating Systems

  3. Energy Efficiency - Low Energy Consumption Lighting Fixtures, Lighting through Solar Energy Panels

  4. Waster Management - Segregation of Waste and Organic Waste Water Management

Design Concepts
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  1. The intervention spaces should be away from the access points due to heavy noises and acoustic stimulation.

  2. The intervention spaces and the classroom should be oriented such that they do not get direct glare.

  3. The administrative spaces should have direct access to the rest of the functions.

  4. The entire circulation should be uninterrupted.

  5. Clear areas of high stimulation and low stimulation should be provided in the building.

  6. Greater emphasis should be given or community participation while securing spaces for individual escape.

  7. The programs should be divided into the floors according to their level of sensory stimulation.

  8. The standards for lighting and acoustic requirements need to be judged differently for the spaces used by ASD individuals.

Learnings 

Client Testimonial

Comments by the Jury

"A major part of your design has gone into following all the bye-laws of the building which makes it close to build-able. But this has led to compromises on many levels which interfere with the design concepts. During academics, the student shouldn't be overburdened with the practicality so that he may focus more on the design. Those are the things he would definitely learn in the office. It's good that the design shows innovative construction techniques. But only if you had excused the bye-laws and built the centre without such high restriction it would have been something entirely different!"

Thesis Jury, School of Planning and Architecture | May, 2017

Jury
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