Architecture : Applying Human Centered Design methodologies to Architecture

Aim:

To provide a solution to the social problem of extremely low percentages of literacy amongst tribal people in Bastar area of Chhattisgarh by designing an educational environment which can establish and upgrade physical, social, psychological, cultural and vocational values of tribal children in a remote, naxalite[1] affected region of Chhattisgarh using Human Centred Design (HCD) based framework.

Human Centered Design (HCD) as an architectural concept

Theoretical concept v/s Geometrical inspiration
The concept of any design can vary from subject to subject and topic to topic. Because building design is considered as a physical element along with a metamorphic one, the concept of geometrical interpretation comes into play. A building might look like as if it has been derived out of a lotus or any other flower, or also might look like a certain geometric image (like a wave). Concepts such as Human Centered Design (HCD) are primarily based on discovering program requirements and not on any geometric interpretation. So if the physical conclusion from HCD based design is a cube, it is because of the design parameter that the cube is most comfortable unit as a volumetric product in a certain environment and not because it has literally been inspired from a trunk or similar geometry. Hence, the final architectural product may or may not resemble any particular style of architecture and might give an impression of any particular kind of geometry, which is bound to happen since the building is a physical, spatial and volumetric product. The approach spans from micro level to macro level investigation using certain parameters of design. HCD involves user-centric parameters and principles. These user-centric parameters are concluded based on user-centric research. The research can be done by a variety of tools such as interviewing, simulation, workshop, questionnaire etc., which are more broadly divided into empirical and non-empirical tools. If such tools are used along with a certain geometrical sensibility in design, the outcome will be more sensitive towards the targeted user group and the building will be more responsive towards the needs and aspirations of the people.

Phase 1: Data Collection and case studies

Phase 2: Processing insights

Phase 3: Final design implications

Phase 4: Final design

Conclusion

The design is a continuous process; hence, it is very difficult to conclude at a certain point. This thesis project is an amalgam of social design and human-centric design principles. The vulnerable population has been always the most deprived user group of the society, because of the fact that they are culturally, economically and sometimes ethically not a stakeholder in society. A school shall be seen as an institution, physical and metamorphic, where young children thrive, realize their potential and excel. As an architect we can define functions and qualities of space, we can be part of policy making. And hence it is a very responsible task to design a school, generations are going to learn and gain knowledge inside it, honing skills.

This thesis project is more based on addressing the social problem of poor literacy amongst tribal children; hence, the ratio of research to design is 1:1. The outcome of design is a simplified structure, more of clustered, simplified and climatically efficient. The landscapes are engaging and utilitarian. Each design has its pros and cons, and this project is no exception, but because of considerable effort that was put into research, entire elements in the design process are because of a particular sensibility.

The school favors collective activity over individual activity, because, during the young age of childhood, children learn most from their peer group, especially in an environment where they are accommodated far from home. Since it is designed to cater children of multiple age groups, gender and tribes, the design is an amalgamation of many specific sensibilities, whether it is junior or a senior, boy or a girl, active or passive, introvert or extrovert, clustered or unified, soft or hard, the Baigas or the Gonds, each have their own presence.

Some might argue that the design is also a tool of a landmark, an icon, an inspiration, but for this project, the driving factor has always been a functional engagement of children. It is more of a blank canvas, where children can paint and learn about findings of life. If this project gets built someday, most of the structure won’t be visible amongst the dense landscaping, but the crux of the design is to blend inside the environment and functionality, rather than showcase or exhibit geometrical extravaganza.

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