Spain for Accessible Design: Summary 2023
Since I published Moving Forward in 2022, my mission has been to feature beautiful interiors and products from Spain that allow those with reduced mobility to enjoy the built environment. It has been challenging to find projects to feature. Sadly, there is not yet widespread recognition of the need for this area of design and its incorporation into the interiors of public spaces.
I am committed to asking designers if they integrate accessible design into their projects and how they do so. There have not been many projects of note this year. I spoke to one designer about featuring a prospective restaurant project with an accessible design. Unfortunately, the project fell through.
In my article about architect Andreína Raventós, Andreína Raventós Architecture: Connecting to Nature in new ways, I asked about her thoughts on accessible design. “There is not enough consciousness about accessible design, and its integration must be of general concern. It is important for disabled people and for people who help them. We always need to try to have it in mind when designing because we need to be inclusive and provide equal access to everyone, especially people with disabilities. So it is important to try to integrate it in the design process from the very beginning. It must be present in different areas, from furniture design to city planning. There is so much work to do.”
Her Infinighty collection of lamps is an accessible design. Users can determine the intensity of light and turn it on and off with a simple gesture.
In my article MuDD Architects: Marrying Cutting-Edge Technology and Raw Materials, I also discussed accessible design with French architect and interior designer Stephanie Chaltiel, co-founder of MuDD Architects, with offices in Paris and Barcelona. Her firm submitted a proposal for the competition of Grande MAXXI. It will be a new multipurpose building and network of landscaped and public spaces to serve as an extension of Rome’s MAXXI museum (National Museum for the XXI Century Arts), designed by Zaha Hadid in 2010.
For the proposal, they designed an accessible promenade that extends from the bottom of the slope to the roof garden. “We literally made a design feature out of the 4% slope required for wheelchair access to a section of the roof garden.”.
Renders provided by MuDD Architects.
I will do better at uncovering accessible design in Spain next year. I am working on a three-part article featuring Enrique Rovira-Beleta, architect, university lecturer, advocate, and expert in accessibility. I will cover his past projects, his views on the legislative framework in Spain, and accessible travel and tourism in Spain.
In fact, this last topic will now be part of a regular series. I will explore services that cater to tourists with reduced mobility and other accessible needs. I will feature towns and cities that integrate accessible tourism as part of their planning, policies and programs, including transport, accommodation, and tourist sites. I hope to visit Spain next year for the first time in four years. Accessible tourism is now one of the focus areas of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), an intergovernmental organization based in Madrid that I am familiar with, as I worked there when I first came to live in Spain. Not only does accessible tourism fit into the mission of this website, but it is of interest on a personal level.
It was a little over a year that I was diagnosed with primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis after three years of declining mobility. I have made major lifestyle changes. I use a mobility device-a walker-to move around. I sold my semi-detached 6-level house two years ago and moved into a one-level condominium. My professional work in human rights, my passion for design, and my interest in travel now coincide in researching and writing about accessible tourism.
I wish you the best for next year.