In the 1960s, with the rising momentum of the Civil Rights movement and heightened awareness of the marginalization of the elderly and disabled, a new movement arose in the design community: Universal Design. This movement attempted to create designs that were accessible and inclusive to marginalized communities, by raising design standards to meet “universal” human standards of simplicity, ease, comfort, safety, and flexibility. But despite the idealistic intentions of Universal Design, specialized design services for differing populations are a growing need in today’s world. Case in point: a group-home for developmentally-disabled seniors with Alzheimer’s disease in Boston needed some very specific considerations to deal with the unique challenges facing the individuals living in the home. Dr. Dak Kopec, Architectural Psychologist and Director of the Boston Architectural College’s (BAC) Master of Design Studies (MDS) has been pioneering the concept of Habilitative Design – design that meets specific individual needs that allow users to function to their highest capacity. Read on to learn how a team of students from the Design for Human Health course at BAC used the principals of Habilitative Design to meet patients’ specific needs.
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