Designing for Community Impact: UTSA Architecture Students Create Healthy Campuses for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired | UTSA Today | UTSA

Wendy Walker, president of the San Antonio chapter of the Texas National Federation of the Blind, traced her fingers along the raised floor plan where the walls would be built as the students described the design. I gave students feedback on architectural solutions that could be improved and design elements that I found particularly innovative.

“I didn’t want to overdo it. I wanted to design an experience in itself.” Justin Joyce, an architecture student. “I wanted to give people autonomy and control over their movements.”

His project, Touch of Echo, seeks to grant independence by using simplified forms of wayfinding, a method that guides people through physical environments and enhances their awareness of space. He used texture, sound and artificial intelligence as the three main architectural features of the healthy campus he designed.

Joyce incorporated the method of marking the way into the form of a textured wall to help individuals decipher the direction they were headed by moving their hands either along the smoother edges, which led further into the building, or along the sharp edges, which indicated that the exit was close.

He found his inspiration among a group of rocks that settled in San Pedro Creek. Joyce noticed how one side of the rock was polished smooth but rough on the other side as the stream carved a unique texture.

“I imagined my hands grazing these rocks and I could tell which direction I was going based on the texture. That came out of my design. This is my first exploration into universal design. It’s another dimension of a puzzle we were already learning about in previous studios,” Joyce said.

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