One of the things I miss about not working in the office is access to the practice library.
The internet is brilliant for finding information, ideas, images…. especially when you are researching for a blog from the comfort of your own sofa! But not everything is available online. Building standards, reglulations and technical design guides for example. I’ve also found it quite tricky finding interesting and inspiring examples of accessible housing projects online… and of course the internet is not quite the same as flicking through real paper books, with pretty pictures in. Designers do like a pretty coffee table picture book or magazine for a bit of inspiration!
It was my birthday recently and some of my lovely relatives gave me some money to spend so I thought it was about time I treated myself to some nice new books (to compete with the kids on bookshelf space!) and to get me up to date with new ideas and get some design inspiration.
So, as you do (when you want some geeky techie books and coffee table architecture books), I popped onto the RIBA Bookshops website and searched for:
ACCESSIBLE HOUSING = ‘1 product’
Ok well I’ll try:
INCLUSIVE HOMES/HOUSING = ‘1 product’
I wasn’t expecting loads of titles, but I have to say I was pretty surprised to see next to nothing come up on any of the searches I did for accessibility, inclusive design, wheelchair accessibility….! So much so, I emailed the bookshop to ask if I was missing something, but they only came back with a couple of other titles. Another big surprise was that, of all the titles I found, only 2 are post 2010! Only two accessible design titles listed in the UK’s biggest architecture bookshop published after the Equalities Act!?
It would be nice to think this is because accessible & inclusive design publications don’t need to be singled out from the general design books….. maybe one day….. but I don’t think that’s it. I just don’t think we (we, as in everyone, not just designers) have grasped the importance of accessibility for all of us, not just as a niche, not just as a token gesture.
My other theme of interest is sustainable & eco design, and it’s telling just how much a general popular interest in this concept has broadened it’s appeal, and I guess, snowballed the demand for ‘eco’ building, such that there is now a pretty good selection of specialist books for that subject, plus coverage in general architectural design books, magazines and the home design media. My searches for titles in this category came up with much more healthy results:
Eco homes/housing/house = 121/154/600 products
Green homes/house = 22/14 products
So, I don’t quite know how we start it, but for so many reasons, not least if we are serious about building an inclusive society, we really need to start an accessible design snowball ASAP….!