At its core, human-centered design is about empathizing with people before designing for them. (Sina Mossayeb, 2016, p.xvii) Housing standards, set out by decision-making entities, have long neglected people’s lived experience, thus creating environments that underserve entire communities. While architectural and design curricula have radically evolved over the past decades, the culture of the design schools and teaching methods remain constrained by the “ideas of design” rather than the “ideas of inclusion”. By contrast, this paper seeks to document, describe and critique evidence-based teaching and learning strategies with the aim of creating more inclusive design pedagogies and practices with the academe of architecture. This research investigates the first iterations of a design studio at the University of British Columbia School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in which inclusion as both a design principle and as a pedagogical practice was prioritized. Founded with the intention of understanding the mismatch in the way we teach space-making, the studio encourages an understanding of personal bias and privilege through positionality exercises. As such, it becomes critical for students to hone a receptiveness towards lived experience and its value in co-creation processes. Working within a model of “real world” clients within a pedagogical setting, students set about designing with a non-profit inclusion association. This work explores three distinct projects created by students in the studio as well as their reflections on the practice of “centring inclusion” and importantly what this reorientation offers to architectural designers at the onset of their careers.
As the founder of AIR studio, Inge Roecker’s work is focused on multi-unit housing, sustainable practices, and architecture’s relationship to social and cultural issues such as aging populations and inclusive design. Inge is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of British Columbia where she specializes in studios focused on community partnerships and housing. She is the co-founder of the interdisciplinary research collective Design for Inclusion which explores resilience in urban communities through architectural inquiry.