About me

A black and white picture of Vaila

I’m an architect with a particular passion for inclusive design and sustainability.

I’m not currently practicing as I am also a mum and carer to a gorgeous little girl with learning and developmental disabilities (attributed to a rare genetic condition (read more here), a funny little boy and two pointy dogs.

I have worked in London (ECD Architects & JCMT Architects (now TM Architects), Cambridge (AC Architects) and Glasgow (John Gilbert Architects). My background is in housing design and refurbishment, from house alterations and extensions to new build housing developments and estate regeneration projects, community buildings & mixed use developments.

Becoming a mum to a little girl with limited mobility and sensory processing issues has given me a new perspective on the need for thoughtful accessible design, and made me more aware of gaps in the process and failures in design.

I feel strongly that good inclusive design should be a key criteria in sustainable design principles. It frustrates me that often sustainability is talked about in terms of ‘eco’ design and energy saving in isolation. A zero energy building that doesn’t meet the needs of the users, cannot adapt or is prohibitively expensive is just not sustainable – it needs to be a holistic process.

As designers we have a crucial role to play in producing places and spaces which will welcome people of all needs and give greater emphasis on the consideration of future uses.  This approach seems to be particularly lacking in housing design and refurbishment.   We all have differing needs throughout our lives – particularly in old age – so shouldn’t we be designing for that flexibility in our homes from the start of a project or whenever we make significant modifications?

We have an enormous way to go to make our spaces and places truly accessible and the very fact that we have to differentiate ‘accessible design’ and ‘inclusive design’ from simply ‘design’ means that the issue of inclusion is not a given.

Although I haven’t been in practice since before my daughter was born, we are redesigning our own home through the ‘disabled adaptations’ process and that has prompted me to write this blog, share our experience and gather ideas along the way…..

2 Comments

  1. Harriet Wood
    October 4, 2016 / 2:12 pm

    Hi!
    I am a student at Falmouth University and am currently starting a project on inclusive living. I have been reading some of your blog and it would be amazing if i could talk to you about this to help me understand the topic in more detail.

    If this is something you would be able to accommodate that would be amazing! If you could send me an email and let me know that would be great! (Hopefully you can see my email?!)

    Thanks

    Harriet

  2. December 14, 2018 / 3:19 pm

    Hi Vaila
    I have just read your inspirational blog and would like to link up. I am a dual trained Occupational Therapist and Interior Designer and specialise in Inclusive interior Design. My mission is to enable people with specialist health needs to live in beautiful non-clinical environments. In the main this involves modifying existing properties but I am also committed to influencing the design of new builds (encompassing general housing retirement complexes and extra care housing) making them attractive practical and safe – in other words truly suitable for lifetime occupation!
    I would love to hear from you and my details are below:

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