How does a blind person cross the road?

Nina Kaiser: A Sensorially Challenging Therapy Centre, Pavilion Gardens and New Road, Brighton.

How does a blind person cross the road?

This was last terms starting point for a device to lead sight impaired individuals across the road, by solely producing a certain smell every time the traffic light switched from red to green.

From showing an interest in the way a person with a missing sense would navigate through the urban environment my studies continued this term, to not only focus on smell, but also on temperature, light and sound.

A huge first influence for this term was Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy. I realized how often we forget about most of our senses, fleeing from the everyday stress, just feeling through seeing. But what if we did not have this one dominant sense of sight? This was the starting point for my research and investigation into specific stories to provide the detailed knowledge needed to design spaces which would not only enable a visually impaired person to navigate more easily, but also challenge ‘fully sensed’ people to develop their sensory resources more widely.

Programmatically, I considered a therapy method which would bridge between temperature sense and the body – Hot Stone Therapy. The skin, as the largest organ, already plays an important role in the subjects I was investigating, but by introducing hot stone therapy the skin is developed from ‘organ’ to a ‘connection point’ between the body and the stone.

My initial proposition sets out to achieve a building through which we navigate with our senses, making the person the main actor; and which articulates the connection between body and skin, skin and stone, stone and building, building and skin, skin and environment.
In refining my proposition, the skin of the building has great importance. How can I manipulate temperature through each side of the building, through the configuration of specific materials? Every side of the building had to be designed with an awareness of its environmental conditions, in the same sense as every part of the person’s skin had to be aware of the environment within the building. This interdependence is central to my programme and design proposition. The big affecting the small and the other way around.