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CENTER FOR AUTISTIC CHILDREN AN ARCHITECTURAL INTERVENTION

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DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE,

SCHOOL OF PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE,


VIJAYAWADA.

CENTER FOR AUTISTIC CHILDREN


AN ARCHITECTURAL INTERVENTION

Submitted by: SRIVANI MANCHALA

Code No. - 1090100096

External Guide: PROF. DR. RACHNA KHARE

Internal Mentor: ASST. PROF. ANIL KUMAR CHILAKAPATI


CERTIFICATE

This is to certify that the thesis titled “CENTER FOR AUTISTIC


CHILDREN: AN ARCHITECTURAL INTERVENTION” has been
submitted by SRIVANI MANCHALA (1090100096) towards partial
fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Bachelor of Architecture. This
is a bonafide work of the student and has not been submitted to any other
university for award of any Degree/Diploma to the best of my knowledge.

HoD, Department of Architecture Thesis Guide

Date:

Thesis Coordinator Internal Mentor

Date:
UNDERTAKING

I, SRIVANI MANCHALA, the author of the thesis titled “CENTER FOR


AUTISTIC CHILDREN : AN ARCHITECTURAL INTERVENTION”,
hereby declare that this is an independent work of mine, carried out towards
partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Bachelor of Architecture,
at the Department of Architecture, School of Planning and Architecture,
Vijayawada. This work has not been submitted to any other institution for the
award of any Degree/Diploma.

Name & Code: SRIVANI MANCHALA, 1090100096

Date: 20 – 05- 2014

Place: Vijayawada.
PLAGIARISM DECLARATION

I know that plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism is to use another's work and pretend
that it is one's own. Each contribution to and quotation in this Thesis Report
from the works of other people has been attributed and has been cited and
referenced. This Thesis Report is my own work. I have not allowed, and will
not allow anyone to copy my work.
It is to be understood that by this certificate, the undersigned affirms that he/she
fully understands what plagiarism is and how to successfully use research
materials to summarize, paraphrase, quote and document properly.

SRIVANI MANCHALA

Name and Signature of the student Date: 20-05-2014


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
It is with a great pleasure, privilege and gratitude that I place on record my
sincere and heartfelt thanks to my mentor and guide Prof. Rachna Khare,
Professor, SPA Bhopal, for her able guidance, valuable encouragement and
support in carrying out this thesis work. I thank her for the immaculate support
in accurately analysing the available field level data on the role of Architecture
/ Architect in the better management of Autism and Autistic patients. The
freedom she gave me and the valuable discussions I had with her have motivated
me immensely and enlightened the path of my career as an architect. I shall
cherish for the rest of my life, the valuable interactions I had with her, which
have contributed significantly in shaping this thesis and getting it what it is
today. I consider it to be my proud privilege to have had her as my guide and
GURU.

I thank sincerely Dr.N.Sridharan, Director, SPA Vijayawada, for his


encouragement, support and the facilities provided for the smooth and
successful conduct of the studies reported in this thesis. I thank him profusely
for suggesting Prof. Rachna Khare as my guide.

I am extremely grateful to Dr.Saroj Arya, Retd. Psychologist, NIMH,


Hyderabad for her benevolent help in the research on the psychology of autistic
children. Despite her busy schedule and extensive work, she personally took
me to the autism centers, helped me in my research and referred me to India’s
biggest institution of Autism, Action For Autism, New Delhi. But for her
valuable help, it would have been very difficult for me to visit the various
Autism centers and conduct my research.

I also thank Dr.Thomas Kishore, HCU, Hyderabad, Dr.Geeta, SPARSH,


Hyderabad and Dr. Sanchita, AFA New Delhi, for lending their helpful hand in
the conduct of this study in their respective institutions. I thank Dr.Poonam
Natrajan, National Trust, New Delhi, for helping me in understanding the
procedure and therapies involved in the center and specially for giving valuable
contacts of people associated with Autism centers.
I am indebted to my father, Dr.M.Raghunath, Scientist F, NIN Hyderabad,
without whose help it would have been very difficult to conduct my study in
Autism centers. I sincerely thank him for guiding me and referring me to various
doctors and psychologists who helped me in conducting my research work for
this thesis. I also thank him for the moral support and encouragement during the
crucial times of my thesis.

I place on record my sincere thanks to Ar. Chetan Shivaprasad, Kham Design,


Bengaluru, for suggesting several literature studies and books on Autism.

School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada has been my home for the
past 5 years, where I spent my productive time in learning and discovering
architecture in a better way. I am thankful to my internal mentor Sri. Anil Kumar
Chilakapati, Asst. Prof, SPA Vijayawada for helping me in understanding the
complexity of the design and philosophical yet simple solutions to it. I would
like to thank sincerely, Dr.Natraj Kranthi, who guided me throughout my thesis
and helped me in understanding the design problem through another
perspective. I would like to thank him for his enormous support and
encouragement during crucial moments.

A special and well deserving thanks to my friends, Anirudh Gudimella, Gayatri


Patnaik, Sandeep Kumar, Pavan Polagani, Vishnu Surapaneni, Deepak Das and
Saatvika Dinesh for constant support and encouragement during the thesis right
from the synopsis until the final stage of the thesis work. I would also thank my
juniors Preeti Sinha, Aarushi Chawla, Lalana Bhatina, MitraVinda Varapula,
Ankita Jain, Aayushi Mishra and Yoshita Pinjala for helping me morally and
physically during my thesis.

I thank all the staff members of SPA Vijayawada for their help and support not
just during the thesis but throughout my study there for the last five years.

Words fail me to thank the never ending contributions of my parents Dr M,


Raghunath and Mrs.Jayasri Manchala and my sister Srividya Manchala, who
have always been there with me showering kind support and encouragement,
which makes me proud to be whatever I am at this stage in my life
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately
1 in every 88 children are diagnosed with some level of Autism, (one in 54 boys)
a sharp jump from the previous numbers released in late 2009. In the case of
facilities for children with Autism, the line between healthcare environment and
educational environment becomes blurred. Recent research has shown that the
educational environments have a profound effect on learning and performance
among autistic children (Mostafa, 2008). Many design solutions that target
autistic individuals have been introduced for implementation in both
mainstream and special education classrooms, however, only few of these
design approaches have been tested via research. If classrooms and learning
environments are not designed to accommodate students with developmental
disabilities, it can be assumed that they will not learn essential skills and may
struggle to live in our society (Khare & Mullick, 2009).

Autism is one such disorder which is by and far the most challenging
developmental disorder which has been overlooked by the architects as a
condition that influences building design. (Mostafa.M 2008) A predominant
effort has been made in exploring the scope of environmental design or the
autistic children with the dawn of inclusive education in the world. The present
research study accentuates the need for a fresh approach in designing
educational and rehabilitative spaces for a supportive environmental
intervention of autistic children

Aware of the diversified ways in which built environment can be perceived, this
paper attempts to understand the built environment from another perspective.
This study aims to develop an innovative tool and technique for the sensory
environments of children with autism by developing four main phases. After
gathering, analysing and synthesizing the data into a narrative format, the
research created tool and techniques to incorporate the evidence into renovating
and building diagnostic, treatment, and educational facilities for persons with
autism. The results of these phases has helped in creating a tool and technique
of design guidelines and subsequently designing the center for autism.
This paper attempts to define and describe behavioural impact on spatial
sequencing, appropriate building materials, acoustics, colours and textures,
circulation patterns, lighting and ventilation. This research makes an effort to
understand the psychology of children with Autism and attempts to provide an
appropriate solution for it. The study and research has allowed creating a center
for autistic children considering their requirements by evaluating new standards
based on inferences from various case studies and literature studies. It also
attempts to understand the impact of environment on teaching strategies,
address needs, fears and comforts of children with Autism and critically review
the relevant theories and implement the learning on the design.
DEDICATED TO MY PARENTS & SISTER
INDEX
1 INTRODUCTION 1

2 SYNOPSIS 2

2.1 AUTISM 2

2.2 AIM 3

2.3 OBJECTIVE 3

2.4 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS 4

2.5 NEED FOR THE PROJECT 4

3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 5

4 RELEVANT THEORIES 6

5 LITERATURE STUDY AND REVIEW 9

5.1 NETLEY SCHOOL FOR AUTISTIC, LONDON 9

5.2 WHITTON GATEWAY ASD UNIT, LONDON 11

5.3 NEW STRUAN – A CENTER FOR AUTISM, ALLOA, 13


SCOTLAND

6 COMPARITIVE STUDY OF SCHOOLS 15

7 STANDARDS FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN 16

8 MY PERSPECTIVE – CONNECTING SENSORY 18


SENSITIVITIES WITH THE SURROUNDING SPACES

8.1 SIGHT 18

8.2 HEARING 22

8.3 TOUCH 22

8.4 SMELL 23

9 REFINED LEARNING FORM THE LITERATURE 25

10 TENTATIVE DESIGN REQUIREMENTS 26

11 DESIGN GUIDELINES 27
12 DESIGN METHODOLOGY 28
13 SURVEY FORMAT 29
14 CASE STUDIES 30
14.1 ACTION FOR AUTISM, NEW DELHI 30
14.2 SPARSH a special school, HYDERABAD 37
15 COMPARITIVE STUDY OF SCHOOLS 43
16 INTERVIEW WITH PSYCHOLOGIST 44
17 SITE LOCATION 48
17.1 TOPOGRAPHY 48
17.2 CLIMATE 48
17.3 KESHAVARAM VILLAGE 49
17.4 JUSTIFICATION OF SITE 49
17.5 LOCATION OF SITE 52
51
18 SITE ANALYSIS AND INFERENCES 52

18.1 ON SITE FACTORS 53

18.2 OFF SITE FACTORS 55

19 CONCEPT 58

19.1 LINING ACTIVITIES WITH CONCEPT 60

20 DESIGN DEVELOPMENT 64

21 ZONING AND SITE PLAN 65

22 SECONDARY BLOCK 66

23 PRIMARY BLOCK 67

24 HOSTEL BLOCK 68

25 ALL OTHER BLOCKS 69

26 ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS 70

27 CONCLUDING COMMENTS 71
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE – 1 15

TABLE – 2 16

TABLE – 3 27
1- INTRODUCTION

What do we really know about how children with autism obtain and process
information? What do we, the “neurotypicals”, know about how autistic
individuals see and interpret their world? Autism is a behaviourally defined
disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, delayed and disordered
language and isolated areas of interest. In 1986 Temple Grandin published her
first book, Emergence, in which she described growing up with autism,
providing for the first time an insider’s view of a different kind of life. Since
then, a growing number of similar personal accounts have appeared, each
adding more insight into their inner world. There has been significant efforts
in understanding their behaviour and the remedies. It also had an impact on
the environment and its design which has greatly influenced the field of
architecture over the last few decades. Hence there is a necessity for a
behavioural centered design.

Autism is one such disorder which is by and far the most challenging
developmental disorder which has been overlooked by the architects as a
condition that influences building design. (Mostafa.M 2008) A predominant
effort has been made in exploring the scope of environmental design or the
autistic children with the dawn of inclusive education in the world. The
present research study accentuates the need for a fresh approach in designing
educational and rehabilitative spaces for a supportive environmental
intervention of autistic children1.

1
There is much debate over how to respectfully and sensitively refer to individuals who have
an ASD diagnosis. Recently, Gernsbacher et al [59] took an empirical approach to this question
and compared Google search results for the terms “autistics” and “person/s with autism.” They
found that 99% of the hits for the term “autistics” were from organizations led by autistic
persons, whereas the first 100 Google hits for “person/s with autism” led to organizations run
by non-autistic individuals. In light of these findings, I respectfully use the term “autistic
individual/s / children” throughout this paper. However, I do so knowing that the most respectful
designation may change with time. The way we refer to individuals diagnosed with autism may
change as we learn more about the condition and as our sensitivities move with the spirit of the
times.

1|Page
2- SYNOPSIS

2.1- AUTISM

“Autism is a severe disorder of communication, socialisation and flexibility


in thinking and behaviour, which involves a different way of processing
information and of seeing the world.” (Jordan, R. 1999)

In 1943, Kanner coined the term ‘early infantile autism’ to describe children
with unusual behaviour patterns that had been present from early childhood.
His original paper gave detailed descriptions highlighting extreme autism,
obsessiveness, and good relationships with objects, a desire for sameness,
stereotypy and echolalia. Typically, Autism is characterised by a ‘triad of
impairments’ identified by Wing and Gould in 1979. The triad represents
three broad and interacting aspects of Autism, all of which will be inconsistent
with the individual chronological age.

The triad of impairments

1- Social
Impaired, deviant and delayed or atypical social development, especially
interpersonal development. The variation may be from ‘autistic aloofness’ to
‘active but odd’ characteristics.
2- Language and communication
Impaired and deviant language and communication, verbal and non-verbal.
Deviant semantic and pragmatic aspects of language.
3- Thought and behaviour
Rigidity of thought and behaviour and poor social imagination. Ritualistic
behaviour, reliance on routines, extreme delay or absence of ‘pretend play’.

Children under Autism can be identified based on the following 4 categories


(National Autism Standards). Pupils on the autism spectrum will have
different levels of support needs in relation to:

 Understanding the social interactive style and emotional expression


Autistic children find social interaction very effortful. They cannot easily
understand commonly used implicit social messages and may find it hard to

2|Page
understand or relate to how social rules change due to context, or what is
considered socially ‘appropriate’. The actions of autistic children are often
misinterpreted as intentionally insensitive. For them to interact with people,
they need help.
 Understanding and using communication and language - Both verbal and
non-verbal (ex: gesture; facial expression; tone of voice)
 Differences in how information is processed can lead to a strict adherence
to routines and rules and/or difficulties in planning and personal memory.
Pupils on the autism spectrum have difficulties in predicting what will happen
when a familiar timetable or activity is changed. Conversely, such styles of
processing can lead to strengths and abilities in a number of areas (often
related to factual memory or areas of interest and motivation).
 Differences in the way sensory information is processed, often leading to
over sensitivities (often to external stimuli such as lighting, smells, or sounds),
and under-sensitivities (often not noticing internal feelings such as pain, body
awareness and hunger, until they become overwhelming). It should be noted
that sensory sensitivities can lead to extreme levels of stress and anxiety in
unfamiliar or over-stimulating environments.

2.2- AIM

To design a center for autistic children so as to create an enabling environment


comprising of learning spaces, rehabilitation center and accommodation.

2.3- OBJECTIVES

 To identify their deficits and understand the role played by architectural


elements in their intervention.
 To understand environmental implications for teaching strategies used for
children with autism in educational spaces.
 To address the enabling aspects of environment that might improve functional
performance of children with autism in educational spaces and rehabilitation
spaces. For example- Visual Character, Spatial sequencing and its quality,
Escape areas, Clutter free spaces, Colour, Texture, Materials, Acoustics etc.,.
 To address their needs and design accommodation based on their behavioural
aspects, cultural and social aspects.

3|Page
 To critically review the relevant theories and implement the learning in the
design of the project.
 To understand the impact of existing structures on the intervention of autistic
children.

2.4- SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS

Studying the mind-set of autistic in itself is a very vast subject hence this topic
limits itself to the study and research of their behavioural aspects in
educational environments and environments which help them in
rehabilitation. It attempts to define quiet spaces, intervention areas, open
spaces, transition spaces, circulation spaces, multi-sensory areas and inclusive
education spaces for the autistic. It also attempts to understand their
perception of spaces through 5 senses.

2.5- NEED FOR THE PROJECT

Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that


approximately 1 in every 88 children are diagnosed with some level of autism,
(one in 54 boys) a sharp jump from the previous numbers released in late
2009, and frighteningly distant rate from one in 10,000 cases seen in the
1980s.

Experts estimate that every 2-6 children out of every 1000 have Autism. The
prevalence rate of autism in India is 1 in 250 (figure may vary as many cases
are not diagnosed) and currently 10 million people are suffering in India. The
government only recognized the disorder in 2001, till 1980s, there were
reports that Autism didn't exist in India (Dr. Vinod Kumar Goyal, TOI).

These alarming rates of increase call for attention by all the fields and clearly
architecture has been ignoring the effect of built environment in their
development.

4|Page
3- RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Experiences of Deriving research


parents, caregivers, concept: Understanding
Literature study
psychologists with the impact of the
on Autism and
autistic children environment on their
ASD
behavioural
intervention
CONCEPT `

Critical study on
Consulting psychologist 1- Establishing
existing buildings
to understand their their needs
and their impact on
behaviour autistic children

2- Formulating
Enabling aspects of Theoretical
Case Study in Bengaluru, Environmental Design study
Delhi, Hyderabad and for Autistic Children
Vijayawada
Analysing various
theories by designers
on architectural
intervention
PRELIMINARY RESEARCH

3- Theory on Behavioural
centric Environmental Altering the
Design environment
based on design
parameters
4- Structured Questionnaire to
study the effect of design
SECONDARY RESEARCH parameters

5- Design Guidelines
DESIGN PROCEDURE

6- Schematic Design/
Site layout
Conceptual Design

Defining
Energy efficiency 7- Final Design sensory areas,
and sustainability playgrounds,
and
circulation
spaces

5|Page
4- RELEVANT THEORIES

Considering Indian context Dr Rachna Khare and Dr Abir Mullick have put
forth their theories which were later tested in the environments of autistic
children. According to them the following are some of the design parameters
can be followed in order to integrate the space in their intervention.

1. Provide Physical Structure.


Providing a physical structure not only enhances their predictability of the
environment and improves their clarity about the space but also helps them in
reducing their anxiety and distracted behaviour. It clearly compartmentalizes
one area from the other there by reducing visual distraction and child’s
tendency to wander from place to place /repetitive behaviour.
2. Maximize Visual Structure and Provide Visual Instructions
As autistic children are socially and verbally impaired, visual cues and visual
structure helps them in understanding the space better than depending on
verbal information. This includes using colour codes, numbers, symbols,
picture labelling etc. Many organizations use visual cues to communicate with
them. They believe that it improves their confidence and promotes their
independence.
It is not transient like verbal communication which is the major reason for
their short term memory. Providing visual instructions helps them to process
verbal information, understanding written messages and re-establishes
attention on the task. (Dr Thomas Kishore)
3. Offer Opportunities for Community Participation
The main purpose of providing an environment is to integrate them with the
‘real world’ and help them understand social behaviour. By incorporating
everyday activities such as crossing road, shopping, using public transport and
interaction with the nearby communities helps them to integrate with the
society and also helps to train themselves and job opportunities in the future.
(Grandin 2008; Hodgdon 2005; Siegel 1998)
4. Present Opportunities for Parent Participation

6|Page
By allowing parent to participate in educating autistic children helps them to
connect home and school environment. This also helps parents to understand
various ways to interact. This can be done by providing a one way mirror
between parent’s room and therapy rooms / classrooms. (R.Khare, A. Mullick
2009)
5. Maximize Future Independence
Education in other words is to help students acquire knowledge and sharpen
their skills to have an independent and productive life. Autistic children
should also be educated in the same way. Many organization have spaces like
kitchen, vocational activity area, commodity store, bakers and confectionery,
computer room, dressing area as self-help activities to help autistic children
in being independent in the future.
6. Offer Generous Space Standards
A generous space standard may help them deal with social stimulus
comfortably (Humphrey 2005). Children are known to wander from place to
place with their hands away from their bodies. Therefore some architects use
double than the usual standards while designing spaces like corridors and
transition spaces .Crowded spaces makes them uncomfortable which effects
their behaviour negatively (Mostafa. M 2008).
7. Provide Withdrawal Spaces
As much as integrating them with the common environment is encouraged, an
escape area is a very vital space to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Withdrawal area is used as a place for particular students to get away from
distractions and stimulations and regain some self-control. A quiet corner in
the classroom or an alcove in any large area can act as an escape area (R
Khare, A.Mullick 2009).
8. Maximize Safety
Autistic children are unaware of safety and precautions due to their mental
deficits. They are attracted to different objects and sometimes are obsessed
with them, forgetting their own safety. A constant supervision is difficult and
hence the environment itself should be carefully designed avoiding sharp
edges, slippery surfaces, electrical outlets, breakable objects and enhancing
railing heights, visual cues for harmful objects, secured boundary etc,.
9. Maximize Comprehension

7|Page
By designing spaces that have clarity and simplicity, it would require less
effort in understanding the environment. A clear layout, zoning, proper
sequencing of spaces, simple forms and clutter free space help autistic
children in understanding the space clearly.
10. Minimize Sensory Distractions
Visually segregating spaces, covering windows, one to one work areas are
encouraged by designers while designing learning environment. Colour plays
an important role in their sensory distraction. Using subtle colours as
background and contrasting colour as main activity will draw their attention.
11. Provide Sensory Integration
Sensory dysfunction is the "inability to modulate, discriminate, coordinate or
organize sensation adaptively" (R. Khare and A.Mullick). No matter where
they fall on the autism spectrum, sensory dysfunction makes children with
autism either oversensitive or under sensitive to the sensory input; this effects
their perception and understanding to the surrounding environment. The
children those are hyposensitive they search for such opportunities in the
environment, and those who are hypersensitive try to run away or get
extremely disturbed with the presence of these visual, tactile, auditory and
other sensory stimulations.
12. Provide an acoustical environment
Autistic children are prone to be distracted with surrounding noise. By using
acoustical materials as flooring, roofing and wall materials one can achieve a
noise free environment.

8|Page
5- LITERATURE STUDY AND REVIEW
5.1- NETLEY SCHOOL FOR AUTISTIC, LONDON

Street frontage of building entrance to the center


View of the internal courtyard

Netley ASD Unit is a specialist facility for autism built within the existing
grounds of Netley Primary School. The form of the single storey 4300 sq.ft
building, determined by site constraints, is a single storey ‘L plan’ with solid
boundaries as shown in the figure, enclosing a courtyard. Entry to the
community centre is electronically controlled in one wing through a controlled
door on Netley Street, and to the ASD in the other through a controlled gate into
the courtyard, with a second controlled entrance at the junction of the building’s
two wings.

 Access to the building: Controlled access makes the building secure to contain
children running, as well as excluding unwelcome intruders.
 Spaces in the center: The unit accommodates two teaching spaces and a multi-
purpose therapy room in addition to a staff office, toilets and storage areas, in
a single storey design. The building
also accommodates an adult education
unit. This includes a crèche, which is
used by Camden LEA as a community
facility.
 Classroom area: The classrooms (two)
are designed as 3D spaces with
View of one classroom showing full length
different areas defined in plan and windows and roof lighting.
section to create diversity within a

9|Page
single space. Both classrooms incorporate a ‘one-to-one’ or withdrawal space
and a separate wet-room area.
 Lighting and ventilation: Both classrooms have extensive, floor to ceiling
windows providing good daylight and views to the courtyard. Roof lights to
the rear of each classroom provide additional lighting during the day and
ventilation.
Providing many openings on walls and on roof have both positive and
negative impact. As discussed, positive factor being not depending on
artificial lighting and ventilation and negative being, this can distract the
children as the numerous openings invites chaos and confusion in class area.
Usage of blinds or opaque paper are some solutions followed by the staff to
avoid distraction.
 Visual comfort: High ceilings give an airy feeling to all spaces, including
corridors in both units, and artificial lighting has been designed to come from
the same direction as the daylight. Simple and clean surfaces without any
intricate detailing to reduce distraction. Visual cues are also provided for them
to understand space and objects.
 Colours and texture: The circulatory areas and transition spaces used subtle
Lilac and classrooms are painted white. All the walls are neatly plastered and
painted. The classrooms are muted, with neutral colours to both walls and
floors. The exception to this is the entrance hall, where the architects have
employed colour and used a curved, green wall to create a more welcoming
but calm atmosphere.
 Construction technology: No sustainability measures were incorporated, but
high levels of insulation, natural ventilation natural day lighting (use of sun
pipes) and condensing boiler contribute to low energy consumption.
Externally all materials were selected for low maintenance, and timber
cladding is protected by large roof overhangs, other finishes being brick,
aluminium and slate roofing. Canted and curved walls were incorporated in
the design as safety measure for the children.

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5.2 - WHITTON GATEWAY ASD UNIT, LONDON

Whitton Gateway ASD Unit is a


specialist facility for 15 children
on the autism spectrum in
London. The unit is situated
within the grounds of the existing
campus of a school and also
doubles up as a school
Credit: GA Architects
community facility. This is a
standalone building with three
classrooms, sensory room, communal space and supported facilities.

 Entry to the building: The ASD unit is in a corner of the school grounds away
from the entrance. Hence a separate access was created which allows the
children to be dropped off discretely at the door, rather than being taken
through the busy playground in the morning and evening.
 Orientation of the building: The building in a sense turns its back on the
existing school and is intended to be inward looking, private and discrete, with
a desire by the architects to create some secluded green space for the children
of the unit.
 Transition space: Circulation space would not
just be a corridor but would be the main social
space and ‘heart’ of the building. Hence the
entry and circulation space are designed
giving a circular form. All but one of the
classrooms open directly into this circular
assembly, which also is connected to the
library and external green space. The space is
well lit by picture and clerestorey windows External side of the classroom
and is designed to be calming and non-
institutional.
 Classroom spaces: All the key communal spaces are generously designed and
are capable of being used for more than one function. Furthermore all of the

11 | P a g e
classrooms are considerably larger than would be the case for mainstream
children, with a classroom average of 4–5 m2 per child for up to eight
children, rather than 2–3 m2 for classrooms of 25–34 children. Classrooms
are also designed to be clutter-free with generous integral storage.
Each are well lit by a ‘picture’ window wall, which looks into and provides
access to the private green space. The classrooms do not incorporate a one to
one space within themselves.
 Lighting and ventilation: All picture windows to classrooms and the main
court space have internal blinds to allow teaching staff to diffuse sunlight as
required. These may however be susceptible to interference by the children.
Artificial lighting has dimming control, which can be operated by the staff to
adjust lighting levels as required. The main circular court space is naturally
ventilated by a mono-draft, ‘wind-catcher’ system in the roof, rather than by
any mechanical ventilation, which can be noisy and distracting.
 Visual comfort: Classrooms have extensive use of pinboard space for visual
cues. All but one of the classrooms has good visual links to the private,
external play space around two sides of the building. The internal court space
also operates as a spill out zone for children who need to take time out from
classroom activity.
 Colours and texture: The building has a muted colour scheme which supports
the spatial hierarchy utilising both green and blue colours which research
shows to be calming. All paints and adhesives are non-toxic and water-based.
 Construction Technology: The building’s materials and surfaces are robust.
Walls are block-work and plaster, with an extremely hard-wearing cord carpet
on the floor.
 Safety and Precaution: All but one of the classrooms has good visual links to
the private, external play space around two sides of the building. The external
space has an extensive CCTV system utilised for security and monitoring.
Also the site is next to a busy road and so has a 2 metre high reflective acoustic
fence around the two exposed sides of the building.

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Ground floor plan as built

5.3- NEW STRUAN – A CENTER FOR AUTISM, ALLOA,


SCOTLAND

External façade of the building Soft landscaped play area

New Struan is an independent school run by the Scottish Society for Autism
(SSA). The building also functions nationally as an Autism Centre
encompassing other functions including an autism advisory service, a centre
for education and training in autism, an education outreach service and a
research, diagnosis and assessment centre.

 Plan of the building: The plan of the building is an upside down ‘T’ shape,
with the horizontal section of the ‘T’ running east to west which includes
spaces like reception, cafe and training rooms. Diagnosis and assessment are

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then contained within the spine
of the ‘T’, beyond a set of
secure doors. The spine runs
north to south and contains a
single storey atrium space of
circulation with classrooms
either side looking east and
Atrium circulation – Heart of the building
west into external play areas
which are secure. The atrium is the ‘social heart’ of the school and is a
powerful orientation device.
 Classroom space: The classrooms are integrated with this atrium space with
small niche or anterooms which act as transition area. The classrooms are
smaller than the usual and can only accommodate 6 children. Unlike the other
2 schools the individual open space provided in the classroom has glazed
surface so as to make them feel visually connected. Classrooms also have
individual work station space, pin board area, circular group areas etc.
 Lighting and ventilation: The classrooms have clerestorey windows with
louvers which diffuses direct sunlight and throws it onto the ceiling. Roof
windows provide a good lighting and cross ventilation in the classrooms and
in the atrium space. All artificial lighting has high frequency ballast and
dimming control.
 Colours and Texture: The classroom is designed to be muted in colour,
allowing teachers to add stimuli as required i.e, using muted colours as
background and contrast colours as foreground detailed activity. Finishes such
as carpets and wall colours are clearly coded to support the spatial hierarchy.
The architects have chosen muted ‘earth’ colours. The atrium walls are
neutral, allowing the children’s paintings to personalise the space.
 Acoustics: All the classrooms are sound insulated to a very high standard (150
mm dense concrete masonry wall, with 19 mm thick dense plaster either side).
 Play area: The building is surrounded by soft landscaped play area for the
children. It is visually connected to the classrooms of the unit.

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6- COMPARITIVE STUDY OF THE SCHOOLS
Table 1

Aspect Netley school for Whitton gateway New Struan- A


Autistic unit for ASD center for
autism
Location Heart of the city, A part of main Located in the
Surrounded by tall school; Ample outskirts of the
buildings. open space in and city; Ample
around the school. open space
around the
school.
Orientation L- Shaped building Secluded from the T- Shaped
oriented towards N- main school, this building
S direction, unit turns its back oriented in N-S
to the main school direction.
building.
Accessibility Electronically Separate entry Only front
controlled entries from the other side entry into the
from both streets. of the site to drop atrium,
off the children at accessible by
door step. parents to drop
off children at
door step.
Spaces in the unit Two teaching 4 classrooms, Reception, cafe
spaces, a multi- social area, a and training
purpose therapy library, storage rooms.
room, staff office, space, staff area, Diagnosis and
toilets and storage circulation space, assessment
areas. reception and rooms, external
toilets. play areas, class
rooms and
toilets.
CLASSROOM SPACE
Area Not mentioned 2-3 sq.m per child Not mentioned
and upto 8
children in one
class
Lighting Roof lighting, Floor Floor to ceiling Clerestorey
to ceiling windows, windows, windows with
Natural daylighting clerestorey louvers, roof
using Sun pipes. windows, lighting,
Artificial lighting artificial
with dimming lighting wth
control. dimmers
Ventilation Good ventilation Cross ventilation Sill- roof
through windows on in 2 classrooms windows for
one side proper
ventilation.
Visual comfort High ceilings, Numerous pin Numerous pin
simple and clean board areas, visual board areas,

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surfaces, proper connectivity with visual
visual cues. private and connectivity
external with external
courtyard. play area.

Transition Space L – Shaped external Circular social T-Shaped


courtyard space with wind atrium
connecting all the catcher roofing connecting all
areas in the school. system; connects the area in the
all classrooms school with
proper roof
lighting.
Colours and Circulation spaces – Muted colour Muted “earth”
Texture Mild Lilac scheme with green colours.
Classrooms - White and blue coloured
walls.
Construction No sustainable Cement block 150mm thick
Technology methods, high plastered walls, concrete wall
insulation, natural hard cord carpets with 19mm
day lighting as flooring. internal and
techniques. Timber external plaster.
cladding, brick,
aluminium and slate
roofing being other
materials.

7- STANDARDS FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN (NBC 2009)


Table 2

ASPECT MIN MAX REQUIREMENT


REQUIREMENT
Stairs - Tread 300mm -
Stairs – Riser - 150mm
Ramp (Slope) Slope 1:12 (For short Slope 1:20
distances)
Ramp (width) 1800mm -
Door (width) 900mm + 380 mm -
(for the wheel chair)
Door handle position - 800mm from FFL
Wheelchair 1450mm x 1500mm 1550mm x 1400mm
Manoeuvring space
Working table - 800mm wide x 600mm
deep x 750mm high

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TYPICAL WASHROOM PLAN

TYPICAL WASHROOM SECTION

SIGNAGE USED AT THE


ENTRANCE

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8- MY PERSPECTIVE – CONNECTING SENSORY
SENSITIVITIES WITH THE SURROUNDING SPACES

After a critical analysis of the literature study and conversation with the
psychologist, autistic children can be categorised into 2 types.

1- Hypo sensitive (under sensitive)

2- Hyper sensitive (over sensitive)

The following are the precautions that should be taken while designing spaces
for the children.

8.1- SIGHT: Our sight helps us to define objects, people, colours, contrast and
spatial boundaries. Children with an ASD may experience the following
differences.
Hypo: Objects appear quite dark to them and hence it is advised to use
as many mild colours as possible so that their sight sensitivity can be
improved.
Hyper: Easier and more pleasurable to focus on one detail rather than
the whole object. It is henceforth advised to give simple details on the walls,
windows, doors etc.
The following are some of the architectural elements which are to be carefully
scrutinized while designing spaces for the autistic.

 Lighting: Various theory have surfaced concerning the sensory issues. For
example some say that there should be limitation the daylight and ventilation
but the other contradict the same. At the same time majority of them agree in
reducing the usage of fluorescent light as the individuals affected with autism
are vulnerable to sub visible flicker of the bulb which leads to headaches, eye
strain and increased repetitive behaviour. Schools for autistic children use day
lighting which according to eminent psychologists helps them in their
cognitive abilities and improves overall health.
There should be some spaces where children can look in and out but not the
classrooms as they can be very distracting. The provision of day lighting
should be the least distracting and maximize the usage of incandescent

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lighting. Graded lighting with various intensities in one particular room helps
them to get exposed to various types of lighting.

This picture depicts the usage of different types of lighting Another example of depicting the usage of
in one room and also encouraging the use of day lighting. different types of lighting.

 Colour and Texture: The perception of colours by autistic children differ


from the neurotypicals due to the defect in their sight because of chemical
imbalances and neural deficiencies. Stating the discussion with Dr Thomas
Kishore, Reader in Health Psychology Department, HCU, most of the children
with ASD see colours with greater intensity than neurotypical children. For
these children, red appears nearly fluorescent, vibrating with intensity. A
small proportion of the children see the colour as neurotypical children do and
5% of them see muted colours i.e., they perceive every colour as grey.

Using subtle colours in the background and contrast colours as the main
activity will draw their attention. Fascination to spiral and the like patterns
makes them sit at one place. The usage of glazed or polished tiles should
minimized; matt finished tiled can be altered with textured tiles for them to
distinguish between the textures. These areas will then act as “MULTI
SENSORY AREAS”. If carpets are being used then one can use both hard
and soft material. Several ancient cultures, including Egyptian and Chinese,
practised “Chroma therapy” or using colours to heal. This is used today as
holistic or alternative treatment in many health centers.
a) Red- Used to stimulate body and mind and increase circulation but mostly its
usage is avoided as children perceive this colour with greater intensity which
hurt their sight.

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b) Yellow- Helps in stimulating nerves and purify body; risky as it can cause
anxiety or cheerfulness based on their sensitivity. Hypo sensitive children
react in a positive manner but causes anxiety in hyper sensitive children.
c) Orange- Helps in healing lungs and heart and increase energy levels. Very
energizing colour for both sensitivities.
d) Blue- Believed to soothe illness and treat pain also increase their productivity.
Dark shades can be overly depressing whereas light shades such as Caribbean
Sea Water have a calming and soothing effect.
e) Green- Helps in maintaining good health. Considered one of the safest colours
as it maintains tranquillity without making the children overly depressing like
blue. Psychologists suggest that soft tones of green are the best colours for
autistic children.
f) Black- Extremely depressive and should be avoided and can create feelings of
loss and oppression, causing the child to draw back inside.
g) White- Similar to blue this colour can be either very soothing or very agitating
based on their sensitivities.

This picture depicts the usage of subtle colours Notice that the background of all the rooms are subtle
as background and contrast colours for colours like peach, cream etc. And also the flooring
important details.
uses different colours.

 Visual Character: A very simple and clutter free spaces must be designed
as children under this spectrum can very easily be distracted by confusing
designs and shapes. Spaces should be organized and compartmentalised
according to their activities. For 10 children and a teacher, a minimum of
15’x20’ room should be designed. Too small spaces can be suffocating where
as too large spaces can be very distracting.
Open plan classrooms and multipurpose rooms with open design is very
problematic and very confusing. One solution can be creating areas that are

20 | P a g e
organised and free flow areas. Fletcher Thompson believes that “ceiling
heights must be kept low, spatial volumes small and learning spaces
intimately proportioned, especially when teacher-student interaction is
primarily one-on-one.” One can create an un-distracting and functional area
by thinking about the activities that happen in that room. Bookshelves, walls,
furniture, soft furnishings and variety in flooring materials can all be used to
create a calm, structured environment, and to help autistic children recognise
the activities of a room.
Simon Humphrey, a renowned architect in field on autism, suggested that by
eliminating shadows and junctions around the window has a calming effect
on the minds of children.

This picture depicts the usage of This is an example of a reduction of


minimal materials yet interesting detail around a window which helps
how children fill their space with life eliminate shadows and junctions
and colour. whilst also having a calming effect.
Note the absence of architraves and
skirting.

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8.2- HEARING: One of major impairment in
children with ASD thereby effecting their
communication and the ability to balance
themselves (to an extent)
Hypo: Mostly have only one ear
functioning and therefore they sometimes do
not recognize certain sounds. Children under
this sensitivity enjoy loud noises and
crowded places. Incorporating large open
spaces helps in their social interaction and
Notice that the above room is modified according
can help them in distinguishing
to acoustics by using a more texturally neutral
between the sounds. sound absorbent material, with light pale shades
or light-coloured corkboards instead of carpet.

Hyper: Contrary to the above


these children have magnify the noise, listen to every detail. Hence it becomes
very difficult to them to concentrate on one particular thing. A solitary space
should be provided away from the clamorous spaces for the children to aid
them in learning.

 Acoustics: My understanding of autism is that they struggle to discriminate


different sounds and are more sensitive to it. Any building must respond to
this in terms of impact of sound, flanking and reverberation time. This can be
achieved by using opaque materials roof in order to reduce the impact of rain,
mass wall construction using acoustical materials. Areas that have fewer
auditory distractions can help improve attention while lessening verbal
stimulations or outbursts. Use of noise and echo treatment in all classrooms,
especially speech rooms to increase attention span. Moreover, all the
classrooms should have the option of being acoustically modified; so autistic
children are gradually placed from spaces that have total acoustic treatment to
non-treated rooms in order to endure the external world.

8.3- TOUCH: This is a very important sensory activity for the children to
distinguish between various objects and react accordingly.

Hypo: They have ability to withstand high pain and are known for self-
harm. Attracted to heavy objects.

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Hyper: Touch sensitive, very particular about
their clothing; they only like certain types of
material and expect the surrounding to possess the
same. Curtain cloth, carpets must be of the gentle
material.

 Materials and Elements: Complexity in the detail of


the building causes visual distractions and
sometimes obsession. By using limited pallet of
materials and reducing hard edges visual Notice that elements and materials used
in this corridor are elementary and
distractions can be limited. Quality of uncomplicated. Use of a materials should
spaces can be enhanced by carefully be non-abrasive and smooth.

selecting the materials and adaptable furnishings that foster their development
and learning. Sensory elements that are soft, such as beanbag chairs, stuffed
couches, swings, carpeting, and water have an advantage and proved to be
beneficial for autistic children. Hence there is a necessity to provide such
sensory opportunities at a school for their exploration.

8.4- SMELL: Highly responsive to various types of smell. Children with ASD
may experience the following

Hypo: Non responsive to any type of smells be it their own body odour.
Sometimes they go lick the object to identify it. Avoid any sharp and needle
like surfaces.

Hyper: Highly responsive to every odour. This sensory activity


overpowers their other senses. Toilets, kitchen and the like spaces are usually
places far from their learning spaces.

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 Spatial sequencing: Rooms that develop odours like toilets and kitchen must
be placed away from the therapy rooms to reduce distractions. If it becomes
inevitable to place such room beside therapy room then the orientation of the
room and wind direction must be considered and placed such that the air from
the toilet/kitchen does not pass through the classroom. The following diagram

Retrieved from http://harrodd-r.com/autism-and-design

depicts a probable solution for designing spaces for the autistic children.

 Quiet space: Autistic children require more personal space than normal
children and this should be considered when designing classrooms, halls and
anything that will contain social interactions. In places were educational
activities are done there should be space large enough for one caretaker and
one student.

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9- REFINED LEARNINGS FROM THE LITERATURE
 The building should have a simple layout which reflects order, calm, clarity
and has good signage and transition space.
 Autistic children may show different sensitivities to spaces: some will be
frightened by large, open spaces and wish to withdraw to smaller spaces, while
others will not like enclosed spaces. Providing a mix of larger spaces with
smaller ones to withdraw to when anxious can help.
 Designing low sensory-stimulus environments reduces sensory overload,
stress and anxiety i.e, by proper positioning of spaces like toilets and kitchen
away from the classroom and therapy areas, using non flickering lighting
fixtures, providing good acoustics etc.
 The provision of pleasant, well-proportioned space, with plain, bare walls
decorated in muted soft colours will allow teachers to introduce stimulus,
(such as wall displays of work or information), gradually to suit pupils needs.
 Classrooms can be arranged so that teachers may employ different teaching
methods, with spaces for individual work or screened personal workspaces.
 Containment in the class base for reasons of supervision, safety or security by
the use of two door handles, at high and low-level, must neither compromise
escape procedures, nor violate human rights, (in that children must not be
locked up unless they are secured or detained legally in secure provision).
 Robust materials should be used where there are children with severe
disabilities and safety precautions for doors, windows, glass, plaster and piped
or wired services are required.
 There is a need to balance security and independence and to find the right mix
between tough materials and special equipment on the one hand and ordinary,
everyday items on the other, in order to avoid an institutional appearance, at
the same time eliminating risks.
 Simple or reduced detailing and changes of plane may reduce the opportunity
for obsessiveness.
 The building should have non reflective surfaces, non-confusing textures, and
reduced corridor area to eliminate running opportunities.

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10- TENTATIVE DESIGN REQUIREMENTS
1- Facilities at Autistic center
 Vehicle parking
 School for Autistic children
 Rehabilitation center
 Accommodation
 Community area
 Soft landscaped Play area
2- Facilities at School
 Classrooms, Soft Play rooms. Computer Rooms
 Sensory areas, Quiet areas, Therapy rooms
 Library, Storage area, Services
 Reception Area, Waiting Area
 Toilets
 Kitchen and Canteen
3- Facilities at Rehabilitation Center
 Doctor’s Room
 Pharmacy
 Nurse lounge
 Patient rooms, Toilets
 Treatment rooms
 Diagnostic unit

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11- DESIGN GUIDELINES
Table 3

ASPECT STANDARDS USED IN CASE STUDY and TSS FOR


SPECIAL CHILDREN
ORIENTATION OF THE N-S direction for the maximum usage of sunlight and
BUILDING warmth in cold countries.
ACCESSIBILITY Electronically controlled and monitored entrances.
Pick up and drop off points at the entrance to the
school.
SPACES IN THE UNIT Classrooms, therapy rooms, sensory rooms, soft
landscaped play area, library, storage, toilet, cafeteria,
lunch room, transition space, atrium, one to one
assessment area and quiet spaces.
AREA REQUIRED 2-3 sq.m per child and not more than 8 children per
classroom.
LIGHTING Floor to roof windows with opaque blind curtains, roof
windows, clerestorey windows and artificial lighting
with dimmers. No incandescent lighting.
VENTILATION Sill to windows for proper ventilation, wind catcher
roofing systems.
COLOURS AND Muted colour scheme; white, muted earth colours, light
TEXTURE green and blue.
VISUAL COMFORT High ceilings, visual connectivity between classrooms
and play areas, visual cues, non-reflective flooring and
pin board areas.
TRANSITION SPACE Considered as heart of building as a most effective
social area; usually circular.
SPATIAL Toilets and kitchen are placed far away from the
SEQUENCING classrooms and therapy rooms.
SAFETY MEASURES No sharp edges, minimum detailing, ample room size,
ceiling height and corridor width.
ACOUSTICS Opaque roofing material in order to reduce the effect of
rain, mass wall construction.
STAIRCASES Min 300mm wide Tread, Max 150mm high riser and
50mm Kerb space. (TSS standard for special standard)
RAMP Min 1800mm wide, Min 1:12 slope ; Max 1:20 slope (
TSS standard for special standard)
DOOR Min 900mm + 380 mm (for the wheel chair),
Handle position – 800 mm from FFL ( TSS standard for
special children)
WHEELCHAIR 1450mm x 1500mm buffer space ( TSS standard for
MANOUEVRING special children)
SPACE

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12- DESIGN METHODOLOGY

Experiences of Understanding the Literature study on


parents, caregivers, impact of the Autism and ASD
psychologists with environment on their
autistic children behavioural intervention

Related theories on Studying the


the topic standards for special
children

Critical analysis of the Literature


study

Learning from the


literature review

DESIGN REQUIREMENTS Structured Questionnaire CASE STUDY


(Based on their needs and to understand the existing (Critical analysis
various social, cultural, design of schools in India of existing cases
environmental and (To Parents, Caregivers, in Delhi,
educational aspects.) and Institutions) Hyderabad and
Bhopal)

Inferences from
the case study

SITE STUDY AND ANALYSIS


(Understanding the
Final Design for the Conceptual Design sensitivities of the
Center for Autistic surroundings and its possible
Children (5-18 years) impact on the individual)

28 | P a g e
13- SURVEY FORMAT
1- Basic Information
1.1- Name of the organization
1.2- Location
2- Background
2.1- When was the organization established?
2.2- The number of student intake initially?
2.3- What were the facilities provided?
3- Facilities at the institution
3.1- No. of classrooms, therapy rooms, treatment rooms and sensory rooms.
Architecturally, are the rooms according to the requirement?
3.2- Provision of playground, soft landscape areas?
3.3- How many children are admitted in the institution? Do the rooms cater
to all?
3.4- Is the therapy supervised by a doctor? If yes, then is there a separate
room with all the facilities?
4- Opportunities for Parent participation
4.1- Are the parents involved in their intervention?
4.2- Facilities for parents – waiting area, parking facility, connecting room
with one way mirror?
4.3- Are the facilities provided sufficient for the child? If yes, how were they
helpful? If no, what other facility do they want, is anything bothering the
child?
5- Behavioural Aspects
5.1- Rating the child on the scale of 1-10 for autism; observing outbreaks,
temper tantrums, social interaction etc.
5.2- Reaction to various elements like colours, texture, lighting
5.3- Are the children obsessed with any object or space? If yes, why?

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14- CASE STUDIES
1- Tamana, a school of hope, New Delhi
2- National Autistic Center, New Delhi
3- Autistic Friendly School, Hyderabad
4- SPARSH, A special school, Hyderabad
5- National Institute for Mental Health, Hyderabad
6- Arushi, Bhopal
14.1 - ACTION FOR AUTISM – NEW DELHI

Location: Pocket 8, Jasola Vihar, New


Delhi

Orientation: NE – SW

Building Typology: Institutional


building for autistic children and adults

Climate: Hot and dry The front façade of the building

Area: App 600 sq.m

INTRODUCTION

Action For Autism (AFA), New Delhi is the pioneering, national and non-
profit autism society of India. The organisation provides support and services
to individuals with autism and those who work with them in South Asia.
Founded in 1991, this parent organisation began with the goal to "put autism

30 | P a g e
on the Indian map." Awareness of autism in India has grown tremendously in
the past decade, and their activities have also changed to meet current needs
in India. According to AFA, there are currently 17 lakh people with Autism
in India. The organisation works through direct services, advocacy, and
research to improve the lives of children with autism and their families. They
are also committed to assisting other countries in South Asia achieve legal
recognition of autism and develop services for children and families.

The center was started by Merry Barua along with other parents whose
children are autistic, in a small room at Chiragali. Currently she is the Head
of the institution which comprises of 60 students and 25 teachers. To more
effectively orchestrate national activities for autism, this organisation
expanded and was relocated to the AFA National Centre for Advocacy
Research and Training at Jasola vihar in 2006.

This 4 storeyed center comprises of 8 classrooms for the secondary children,


5 Parent- child intervention rooms, 2 Sensory rooms, 2 Occupational therapy
rooms, a library and a Research unit. The center caters to 60 individuals of
age 3years to 34 years. They not only train the individuals in the triad
impairment but also guide them about the future independence. The center
also employs high functioning autistic adults in their office which boosts their
confidence.

GROUND FLOOR

The ground floor comprises of reception


area, office area, seating area, cafeteria,
library, a storage area, swimming pool,
outdoor play area and toilet. The corridor
connecting all these areas is only 1.5m wide
which makes it difficult for children to walk
without any assistance.

1- The children walk from the reception to the


cafeteria to buy food and then head to their class. This way they learn how to
use money.

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2- Swimming pool is
used during
summer which
according to the staff is an effective way to teach sensory skills.
3- The seating area in the reception is very spacious and some children use this
area as an escape space.
4- The counter present outside the reception sells the products made by the
children during their arts and crafts class.
5- The play area present outside the building is used by secondary children
during their playtime.

FIRST FLOOR

The first floor comprises of parent-child


intervention wing which has 5 rooms, 3
classrooms, 1 sensory room and toilet.
The corridor in the Parent- child wing is
only 1m which makes it difficult for two
people to walk simultaneously. The other
corridor leading to sensory room and
other classrooms is 1.5m wide which
makes it difficult for children to walk
without any assistance.

1- Parent- child wing: This area in an early intervention zone where the parent
of the child below 3 years is trained to understand the complication of the
disorder. Parents are also taught to understand the behavioural and cultural
aspects of the children. This way the intervention not only happens in the
center but also at home. 4 rooms have a look through window frame beside
the door so that parents can look into the class without distracting the children.

32 | P a g e
Lighting and ventilation: The corridor leading
to these rooms is dark, gloomy and narrow (1m
wide) with no proper natural light. The rooms are
well lit and ventilated naturally; also there is a
provision of artificial lighting in every room.
Colours and texture: All the walls are rough
textured and coloured white. Since this area is for
toddlers, the walls are decorated with sensory Notice that the corridor is narrow
and poorly lit.
stimulating materials such as charts depicting
fruits, vegetables, colour coded activity tags etc. Children sometimes tend to
harm themselves by scratching the walls and circumambulations around the
furniture and accidentally hit the walls. There is a necessity of smooth finished
walls with variegated textures for them to distinguish between the materials.
Acoustics: The rooms are not treated acoustically; the noises from the
adjacent class are very much audible which distracts the children from
concentrating on their activity. Some of the rooms use curtains as acoustical
materials but given the number of children and their ability to make noise,
curtains are not sufficient.
2- Semi open play area: This area is for low functioning children who cannot
interpret safety. The semi open area is covered all around by with MS grill.
Playing with other children promotes social interaction.
3- Sensory area: This is a one to one intervention area where the child is taught
by projecting videos and pictures on the wall. Low functioning children use
this space as it is dangerous to let them play outside without assistance. Due
to the space constraint (the area of this space is about 10sq), the personal space
of the child is compromised which triggers anxiety and develops seizures.
Lighting and ventilation: The room is well ventilated with windows on one
side. The requirement of this room does not indicate the provision of a window
as children are taught in the darkroom with the help videos and pictures on
OHP.
4- Toilet: The toilet provided is not children friendly; they need assistance to use
the washroom.

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SECOND FLOOR
The second floor comprises of 4
classrooms for secondary children
(high functioning), 3 classrooms for
primary children (low functioning), 1
sensory room, 1 storage area and toilet.
The corridor in the secondary children
classroom is only 1m which makes it
difficult for two people to walk
simultaneously. The other corridor
leading to sensory room and other
classrooms is 1.5m wide which makes it difficult for children to walk without
any assistance.

1- Classroom area (Secondary


children): The classroom is
approximately 10sq.m and
accommodates 6 children per
classroom with a teacher student ratio
of 1:6. Some experts consider this as
extra burden on one teacher. The usual
ratio followed elsewhere is 1:3. Picture depicting typical classroom

The classroom has spaces for sitting,


weaving, computer education and storage space. There is a look through
window from the corridor so that parents can look at the activities by the
children without disturbing the class. Only in secondary classrooms computer
education is provided; the teachers believe that these children learn better and
faster over the computer than over the blackboard.

34 | P a g e
Lighting and ventilation: Although the
classrooms are well lit and ventilated by
windows on one side, the views through
the windows are distracting so the
management blocked the windows with
opaque sheets.
Picture depicting the opaque sheets over the
windows
Colours and texture: All the walls are
rough textured and coloured white. The walls are very dull with no decorative
pictures or images. Many organisations use colour coded picture cards over
muted colour walls to communicate with children. Since this area is for
secondary children, communication is not an issue. Although they are
repetitive in their behaviour, they can communicate with others.
Acoustics: The area of the rooms being just
8sq.m and not being acoustically treated
distracts the children from concentrating
on their activity.
2- Classroom area (Primary children): There
are 3 classrooms for children between 3 –
10 years age. The furniture is these rooms Primary classroom

are compatible with the children. The


classroom is approximately 10sq.m and accommodates 5 children per
classroom with a teacher student ratio of 1:5.
Lighting and ventilation: The classrooms are well ventilated by 2 windows
on two sides. It becomes very difficult for children to concentrate on their
activity. Hence the management covered the windows with curtains to block
both light and ventilation. They encourage using artificial lighting and
ventilation for these children.
Colours and texture: All the walls are rough textured and coloured white.
The walls are very dull with no decorative pictures or images. Although the
area is for primary children, the walls are not decorated with colour coded
picture activities. The use of colour tape on the ground acts as a
compartmentalising of the space. This makes children feel as their personal
space and helps them to calm down.

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Acoustics: The area of the rooms being just 8sq.m and not being acoustically
treated distracts the children from concentrating on their activity. Some of the
rooms face the road, therefore the vehicular noise and the street noise distract
children.
3- Semi open play area: This area is for low functioning children who cannot
interpret safety. The semi open area is covered all around by with MS grill.
Playing with other children promotes social interaction.

THIRD FLOOR

The entire floor is dedicated to research


and diagnostic unit. The organisation
recently collaborated with UCLA on a
research on Autism. There is also a
gathering space for parents to meet the
teachers once in a month to check the
progress in this floor.

COMMON SPACES IN THE


CENTER

1- Circulation Space

Ground floor - Circulation space is rarely used by individuals. Walk from


cafeteria to office.
First and Second floor - Parent child wing and the
toddler classrooms are connected by narrow corridor.
Secondary classrooms are connected with a well-lit
corridor of 1.5m wide
Third floor - Corridor connects the research unit with
the gathering space.

Circulation space in every floor is narrow and


accommodates many other activities along with
circulation such as play area, storage, fire safety etc.
The main circulation space is 1.5m which is very unsafe for children as they

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walk with their hands away from the body.
Children usually wander in the corridor as the space has no distractions.

2- Swimming pool

Swimming pool is operated during the


summer days and summer camp. This is a
sensory technique to teach children the sense
of water. According to the teachers this proves
to be an effective sensory technique for
children to learn quickly.

3- Play Areas

The play area in the ground floor is adjacent to


the parking facility. It is located beside the
entrance to the building. This is a dead space
and is not used by children as they are
intimidated with the vehicles around them.
High functioning group of children use this
play area during their play time. The play areas in first and second floor are
covered with grill.

14.2 - SPARSH a special school – HYDERABAD

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Location: Sikh road, Near Diamond point,
Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

Orientation: SW- NE

Building Typology: Residence


turned into a day center

Climate: Hot and dry

Area: App 200 sq.m

INTRODUCTION

SPARSH is a comprehensive multi-service school that provides educational,


therapeutic and recreational The façade of the building

services for children with special


needs thereby fostering their physical, educational, emotional and social
development and thus enabling them to play, learn, live and function in the
real world.
They are a group of specialists from the field of special education committed
to providing 'that extra' needed to make a difference in the lives of differently-
abled children by encouraging them to realize their true potential. The school
empowers the Kids with autism to access the state of the art rehabilitation
intervention viz., educational, therapeutic, vocational, employment, leisure
and social activities, sports, cultural programmes and full participation. To
achieve optimum results, the institute has developed and introduced
innovative structured training courses like Early Intervention, Rehabilitation
Psychology, Special Education and Disability Rehabilitation at school level.

The school divides children based on their mental abilities into 4 categories.
The following are the training and therapies provided by the school.
1- Special education

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2- Speech and language therapy
3- Occupational therapy
4- Sensory integration therapy
5- Behaviour modification
6- Applied behaviour analysis
7- Discrete trail training
8- Physiotherapy
9- Cognitive behavioural management
10- Remedial teaching for children with learning problems
11- Parent training programme
The management also provides regular assessment services, online
international professional support, neuro-psychological intervention, family-
friendly ambience. The school is a place where children of differing abilities
i.e, children with autism and cerebral palsy, mental retardation, learn together.

GROUND FLOOR

The ground floor of


approximately 200 sq.m
area, comprises of 3
classrooms, a sensory play
area, kitchen, office space,
exercise area and common
bathroom. A typical
residential plan is turned
into a day care center for
children with disabilities. All the bedrooms are turned into classrooms.

FIRST FLOOR

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The first floor comprises of
4 classrooms, a quiet room,
wash area, a television
space, a balcony and two
toilets.

The following are the


various spaces in the school.
1- Classroom space
The school has 8 classrooms
divided amongst 4 categories of children. Every classroom is furnished with
cupboards, drawers, tables, chairs. Every room has a mirror for enhancing the
skills of the child. Each classroom caters to minimum 2 children and
maximum 7 children. All the classrooms have an area approx. 12sq.m. The
classrooms in the school are one to one classroom, toddler’s classroom,
secondary classroom and high functioning children classroom.
Lighting and ventilation
All the classrooms are
naturally ventilated with
ample day lighting.
Artificial lighting is also
used in every classroom as
the views from windows
often distract the children
A typical classroom space
and are closed with curtains
.Therefore in most of the classrooms the child is made to sit in a corner facing
the wall so that they are not distracted.
Colour and texture
Muted colours are used as the background in 6 classrooms; the other two have
bold colours. Parents often complain that this makes their child gloomy and
unyielding. Contrast colours are used to depict the important details the child
has to learn. All the surfaces have smooth textures making the child difficult
to understand the difference between various textures.

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Safety and precaution
Marble as flooring material makes it very difficult for the children to walk.
Autistic children use washrooms very often. It is therefore difficult to walk on
marble flooring with wet feet unless assisted by the care takers.

2- Circulation space
Circulation space in the ground floor is
unorganised with spaces for exercise and
sensory skills due to the space constraint.
Exercise space is also provided in the
circulation space for physical fitness of
the children. Unorganized circulation space in ground floor

The balcony space in the first floor is used as a space for understanding the
spaces around the building. Also the views from the classrooms are distracting
for children; this space lets them have undistracted views.

The circulation space in the first floor is used as gathering space twice in a
month when parents, caregivers and children meet to check the progress of
the children. TV set in this space acts as visual communication and teachers
believe that this is one of the best ways to for them to learn things fast.

Circulation space in any autistic center is


considered as heart of the building as
children like to spend a lot of time in this
space to move around. This school also
provides a clutter free and spacious
circulation space in the first floor.
In the ground floor the area becomes much Circulation space as gathering space

unorganised as multiple activities takes


place in the same area. Children are very distracted as the sensory space is not
isolated from the circulation space.

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3- Toilet and wash area
4 classrooms are provided with attached toilet and bath areas. One bathroom
has both Indian and Western style for the children to learn how to use both. It
is known that autistic children do not like squatting; therefore both systems
are provided for them to get accustomed to both the styles.

The wash area in the first floor circulation


space is used to teach sanitary habits to
children. This area becomes difficult to
access for children in the ground floor.
The wash area is very compatible with
children as the water does not squatter.
Every toilet has a provision of geyser. The
Common bathroom for classrooms. Notice
school also teaches children how to take that both Indian and Western styles are
provided
bath and other sanitary activities. Teachers
also complain that the ventilators are too low, so the children try to climb on
the commode onto the ventilator. All the toilets are not safe for the child to
use it alone. Toilets and wash areas have to be very simple and should be
compatible with the children. Proper safety measures such as handrail, low
height commodes and anti-skid flooring have to taken.

4- OTHER SPACES

One to one area Seating area at the entry

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15- COMPARITIVE STUDY OF THE SCHOOLS
Aspect Action for NIMH, Sparsh – a
Autism, New Hyderabad special school,
Delhi Hyderabad
Location Located in the Located in a Residential
residential area in dense residential building turned
the outskirts of area in the heart into a school,
the city of the city, located in
surrounded by surrounded by residential area.
park, water plant schools,
and Agra canal. pharmaceutical
centers and
market area
Orientation NE - SW S-N SW-NE
Access to the Single and Separate Accessible by
building secured entrance entrance and exit everyone, no
to the building gate security.
Spaces in the 10 classrooms, 5 7 secondary 7 classrooms, tv
unit Parent child classrooms, 6 room, storage
intervention primary space, exercise
rooms, 2 sensory classrooms, 1 area, sensory area,
rooms, a library, kitchen, 1 kitchen, sick
indoor and computer room, quiet space,
outdoor play education lobby and toilets.
area, cafeteria, room 2 rooms
research unit, for autistic
gathering space , children, 2
office space, vocational
reception and training rooms, 6
toilets. office and staff
rooms and 4
toilets.
CLASSROOM AREA
Area Approx 10 sq.m Approx 12 – 20 Approx 6sqm for
for 6 children sq m for 6 6 children
children
Lighting Windows and Windows and Windows and
artificial lighting artificial Artificial lighting
fluorescent
lighting
Ventilation Good ventilation Cross ventilation Cross ventilation
through windows in every in 2 classrooms.
on one side. classroom. All
the classrooms
face either

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courtyard or
playground.
Visual High ceilings, High ceilings, No visual
comfort simple and clean spacious connectivity
surfaces but no corridors, Tactile between the
proper visual environment spaces. No proper
cues. with no proper visual cues.
visual cues.
Transition Long L shaped Long and wide Linear and T
Space narrow corridor. (2m) L shaped shaped corridor
corridor. connecting all the
rooms
Colours and All rooms are All rooms are Muted colour
Texture coloured white coloured beige scheme with red,
and have rough and have rough orange, maroon
texture texture. and beige
coloured walls.
Smooth finish.
Visually
disturbing space
CIRCULATION AREA
Width 1 to 1.5m wide 2m wide 3 – 4 m wide
Lighting and Properly lit and Corridor opens Artificially lit
ventilation ventilated by into courtyard, even during the
windows opening well lit and day time using
to courtyards ventilated. fluorescent tube
Artificial lighting light. No proper
is also used. light or
ventilation.
Colour and White coloured Beige coloured Maroon coloured
Texture which gives a spacious dark corridors
spacious feeling. corridor.
Rough textured

16- INTERVIEW WITH PSYCHOLOGIST


DR SAROJ ARYA (NIMH, HYDERABAD)
Dr Saroj Arya, a renowned Psychologist who previously worked in National
Institute for Mental Health, assisted me in understanding the potential,
capabilities and problems faced by children in autism. She worked in NIMH
for 25 years and has dealt with hundreds of children with autism. She has
attended and organized many interventions for children in. Her helpful hand
has enabled me in assessing the current day scenario of autism in India and
the measures taken to endure the disorder.

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The conversation started with an overwhelming appreciation of the field of
architecture for taking interest in the well-being of the children under Autism.
Discussing about the children in the spectrum she stated that there is nothing
normal or abnormal, it’s ordinary and extra-ordinary and people under the
spectrum are extra-ordinary. They are truly unique; they have literal and
lateral sort of tangential logical thinking which is disarmingly charming. The
importance of space for their betterment was stated where the importance of
built form in shaping their behaviour was discovered. For this one must
understand the impact of their culture, behaviour and social aspects to design
a space for them.

Environmental and Behavioural studies


Environment had profoundly impacted the individuals in the spectrum but is
more often than not ignored. The primary problem that characterises their
behaviour is the inability to enforce meaning on their experiences. Although
they have the capabilities to act on their environment or learn skills, they have
no independent capability to comprehend the meaning of these activities.
They cannot determine the connection between their experiences and
demands, while the fundamental themes or principles are still unclear to them.
This severe impairment in generating meaning becomes a critical aspect in
deciphering their capabilities in understanding the environment.

Research on design of environments for people in the spectrum is usually


based on the idea of that some state of ‘fit’ is definable and attainable. In most
of the researches fit has been conceptualized as an environment that matches
the abilities of the user with an appropriate level of support. Likewise, in
architectural design the fundamental concept for analysing human behaviour
is ‘behavioural setting’ that includes only those aspects of physical
environment that are critical to behaviour. If these settings are harmonious
with the behaviour then there is a ‘fit’. This behaviour setting concept and the
concept of fit-misfit are the basic building blocks in architecture. The pioneers
in designing spaces for the autistic developed a set of design parameters based
on their behavioural aspects.

45 | P a g e
Cultural aspects
Culture refers to a shared pattern of human behaviour. It is the way of life.
Autism is of course not truly a culture; it is a developmental disability caused
by neurological dysfunction. However it affects the ways that individuals eat,
dress, work spend leisure time, understand their world, communicate, etc.
Thus, in a way, autism functions as a culture which yields the characteristics
and predictable pattern of behaviour in individuals with this condition.
Parents, teachers and care givers should be someone who understands both
cultures and able to translate the expectations and procedures of the non-
autistic environment to the individual with autism. Environment has a major
role to play in this translation.

When every structure is designed considering the functionality, culture,


behaviour of the setting, then why aren’t there spaces for the autistic according
to their needs? Incorporating their culture in our design plays a vital role in
their intervention.

Sociological aspects
Impaired communication is one of the trademark characteristics of autistic
children. Unfortunately the environment surrounding them is not encouraging
social interaction. It is important that a child with autism is ‘contained’ for
their own safety, but it is also important for them to interact with others or at
least feel that they can. History and nature shows that this can be achieved
with subtle manner; by providing enclosed courtyards, vigilant playground
and multisensory areas. According to the experts, it not only enhances their
social skills but also boosts their confidence level. Nature provides best
solution for containment; a serene picturesque open space can provide such
opportunity.

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Observation and Recommendation
 The classroom should be at least 20’x15’ with a student teacher ratio of 3:1.
Every classroom must accommodate only one activity as multiple activity
distracts their concentration.
 Subtle colours must be used for the walls with contrast colours as backgrounds
of important details. Autistic children devote their attention on the details and
therefore one must try and accommodate minimum and essential details in the
structure. For example patterns or paintings on the wall affect their temper;
they critically analyse paintings to understand the deeper meaning and lose
their temper if the painting conveys a negative meaning.
 A mirror must be accommodated in speech and occupational therapy room for
them to interact with themselves and understand their task. Mirror is an
essential element in their progress. It conveys the voices of colours, shadows,
movement and their echoes, silence, spaces and distance.
 Sensitivity to resonating sounds is very alarming in autistic children which the
‘neuro typicals’ fail to notice. Areas that have fewer auditory distractions can
help improve attention while lessening verbal stimulations or outbursts.
 Spaces must be clutter free as visually distracting design can be very
confusing; people on the spectrum tend to be visually-orientated. Clean lines
without much detailing and sparse decorations helps autistic children to
concentrate on their task.
 An organized environment can be achieved by creating stations, or
segregating areas according to activities. A small space can feel suffocating,
while a space that is too open can bring on a free-falling feeling.
 Autistic children need a quiet space to control their temper tantrums and which
helps them in being calm and organize their behaviour.
 The designed space must provide lots of level difference which helps in
enhancing their fine motor skills and also allows the management to be
vigilant.

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17- SITE LOCATION

Map showing the extents of HMDA and the location of the village

17.1 - HYDERABAD TOPOGRAPHY

Hyderabad is the 4th most populous city in India and 6th largest urban
conglomeration; situated on hilly terrain surrounded by lakes. The city has a
population of 6,809,970 (2011 census) with a density of 18,480/km2
Area - 650 sq.km
Location - Hyderabad lies on predominantly sloping terrain of grey and pink
granite, dotted with small hills, the highest being Banjara Hills at 672 metres
from MSL. Granite ridges and hills weathered into picturesque balance forms
are a part of Deccan Shield.
Soil type- Mainly red sandy soils with few area of black cotton soil
Seismic zone - 1 and is seismically exposed to least earth quakes.

17. 2 - CLIMATE
- Hyderabad has a tropical wet and dry climate bordering on a hot semi-arid
climate.
- Annual mean temperature is 26 °C (78.8 °F)
- Summers (March–June) are hot and humid, with average highs in the mid-30s
Celsius
- Maximum temperatures exceed 40 °C (104 °F) between April and June.

48 | P a g e
- Winter lasts for only about 2 1⁄2 months,.
- Lowest temperature -10 °C (50 °F) in December and January.
- Temperatures in the evenings and mornings are generally cooler because of
the city's moderate elevation.
- Heavy rain from the south-west summer monsoon falls between June and
September.
- Avg Humidity - 52%

17.3 - KESHAVARAM VILLAGE

EXTENTS OF KESHAVARAM VILLAGE AND LOCATION OF SITE

The village is located at NE corner of the Hyderabad city extents at a distance


of

34 kms from Secunderabad Railway station


42 kms from Imlibun Bus stand
69 kms from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.

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Landmarks - The closest landmark to the
village is Shamirpet Lake and Shamirpet
Deer Park located at a distance of 11.5kms
from the village.

Access - The only access road to the village


is Hyderabad - Karimnagar Highway which
is also known as Rajiv Rahadari which is a
4 lane of 30 m wide.

Population - The village had around 1500


Rajiv Rahadari / SH - 9
people and 300 residences. The major
occupation of the people here is agricultural farming

Soil type - Red sandy soil which is suitable to grow Mangroves, Sugarcane and
Paddy farming.

17.4 - JUSTIFICATION OF THE SITE


CFA (Care for Autism) Society is setting up
an exclusive facility for children with autism
on a 10 acre farm, nestled among 100 plus
mango trees, which is exactly 24 Kms from
their existing center at Bolarum. The
Existing site proposal if for 100 children which is an
Alternative residential environment for
children and adults with Autism.
There is a requirement of the center for Autistic children due to the alarming
rates of increase (1 in 150 children in India are affected with autism to some
extent) of children affected with autism.
1- The site is located in a village free from city traffic, pollution and population
havoc which is perfect fit environment for their rehabilitation.
2- By locating the Center in a village, awareness of this disorder can be spread
to nearby villages.

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3- By training people in village, employment opportunity can also be created.
4- The surroundings of the site are farmlands; children will be exposed to a
natural environment which proves to be an effective way for their rehabilitation.

17.5 - LOCATION OF THE SITE

The site is located at the extreme Northern corner of the village abutting
Hasmapet Road which is 6m wide.
AREA: 10 ACRES
Landmarks around the site - ZPHS located half km from the site and Gutti konda
located right in front of the site.
Provisions around the site - Village has 10 commodity stores, an Anganwadi,
ZPHS School.

Approach road to the site

ZPHS School located at a distance of half


kilometres from the site Gutti konda, a landmark located opposite the site

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18- SITE ANALYSIS AND INFERENCES
18.1 - ON SITE FACTORS

1- SOIL TYPE
Red sandy soil (30 % loam and 70%
sand).
INFERENCES
1- If the structure is G or G+1 then
stone or earth footing can be used.
2- If the structure is more than G+1 then stepped foundation or pile
foundation (based on Soil Bearing Capacity) should be used.
2- VEGETATION
Upto 150 m the land is planted with
Mango trees hap-hazard and land is
also covered with unwanted growth
of grass.
Beyond 150m Mangrove plantation
is organised with a distance of 6m between the trees.
INFERENCES
1- As far as possible the Mangroves should be retained; farming can be
encouraged, as a part of their vocational training
2-Sensory garden can be created by retaining some part of the
mangroves.
3- Space amidst the trees can also be used for other sensory activities.
3- EXISTING FEATURES
At a distance of 10m from the site
boundary on the bottom left corner
there are huge boulders. These
boulders may be surfaced parts of
huge rocks underground.
No sewage / drainage facility
Electricity line runs along the left
boundary of the site
A compound wall with gate along the

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NW ridge.
INFERENCES
1- Boulders can be effectively used as building material.
2- Foundation is not required in this area. Proper sewage line should be
provided.
3- Compound wall can be retained.
4- CONTOURS
Site is a flat land with no contours.
Only a few boulders are present at one
corner of the site.
INFERENCES
1- One of the major inferences from the interviews with the
psychologists is that if there are level differences it is better as it
improves their fine motor skills. This way there is also proper vigilance
on the children.
2- Since the land is flat, level differences must be created while
designing the buildings.
3- Slight slope can be created to direct the rain water or run off water
into rain water harvesting pit.

18.2 - OFF SITE FACTORS

1- CLIMATE
Tropical wet and dry climate bordering on a hot semi-arid climate.
Annual mean temperature is 26 °C (78.8 °F)
Summers (March–June) are hot and humid, with average highs in the
mid-30s Celsius
Maximum temperatures exceed 40 °C (104 °F) between April and June.

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Winter lasts for only about 2 1⁄2 months,.
Lowest temperature -10 °C (50 °F) in December and January.
Temperatures in the evenings and mornings are generally cooler because
of the city's moderate elevation.
Heavy rain from the south-west summer monsoon falls between June
and September.
Avg Humidity - 52%
WIND DIRECTION - South East to North West
( Source - Wikipedia)
INFERENCES
1- SW being the hottest during any season, built structures or playground
must be avoided and open space with many trees must be planted.
2- SE must have lowest height structure so as to have an unobstructed
wind flow.

2- SURROUNDINGS
Site is surrounded by farmlands on all the sides. Residences are located
at a distance of approximately 200 m from the site.
ZPHS at a distance of half kilometer.
INFERENCES
1- Some centers encourage the local school children to visit their center
and interact with autistic children. With the presence of ZPHS very
nearby, awareness about autism can be spread and an opportunity to let
the autistic children interact with the real world.
2- Since the surroundings are farmlands there will unobstructed flow of
wind into the site.

3- SUN PATH
E-W via South
INFERENCES
1- South, West and Southwest are the hottest sides, least number of
openings must be provided ; if inevitable solariums can be provided to
trap the heat from entering into the building.
2- North side provides glare free lighting which is an apt position for

54 | P a g e
classrooms and sensory rooms.

4- APPROACH ROAD
4m wide road bifurcates from the 6m wide Hasmapet toad leads to the

site. There is proposal by Govt to extend the road to 18m.

5- TRAFFIC CONDITION
Site is located in a village 12 kms from Rajiv Rahadari/ State Highway
-1, therefore there is no traffic havoc. Locals prefer traversing by cycle
than by two/ four wheelers. Hence there is no pollution problem.
There is a regular bus service once every 15 minutes.

19- CONCEPT - PUZZLE


WHY PUZZLE?
• Puzzle indicates the mystery and complexity
of Autism; reflecting this attribute in the design
is crucial as children with Autism are very
difficult to interpret and understanding their
interpretation of space is a challenge. A simplistic design would suffice if the
design include various spaces to explore and includes the aspect of ‘something
new’ for children to learn things easily.
• Each puzzle piece indicates the children with Autism waiting for the rest of
picture to fit- the ‘fit’ in the puzzle would be another child with Autism or us
‘the Neuro typicals’ - to complete the picture and give it a meaning. The design
of the center should be such that the different blocks go hand-in-hand with one
another and form the center to make it a better place for children to live and
learn.
• Each puzzle piece is different and unique but gives a meaning when put
together properly in the big picture. The design of the blocks and spatial
sequencing has only one correct possibility to provide a ‘fit in environment’.

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Design must be based on their interpretation of spaces and sequenced based on
their predictability of spaces.
• Indicates the diversity of the individuals effected with Autism. The main aim
of the center is to unite the diversified spectrum of Autism and provide a
meaningful platform for their betterment.
• Logical way to arrive at a solution. A ‘FIT IN ENVIRONMENT’ and an
Ingenuous environment.

Based on the concept, case study and literature study, the following are
parameters to be followed in the design for the center.

Picture depicts the inability of the


child understand the space due to the
long pathway leading to it.
Designers play an important role in
determining spaces which are
SIMPLE and
COMPREHENDABLE by the child
which helps them in their
betterment.

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FLEXIBILITY & ADAPTABILITY
The combination of triad dysfunction results in the broad spectrum of functional
skills and interests in Autism. Therefore there must be flexibility in the design
and must also be adaptable by children in the spectrum. This will help in
1- Including the individual educational skills and needs of children with autism
rather than following the main stream school methods. This will help the child
to adapt the new method easily as it is user friendly
2- Working with regular teachers along with therapists. Helps them feel
comfortable and not alienated.
3- Re-arranging the classrooms for 1-1, group and parallel sessions. This way
none of the sessions are disrupted.
4- Using multi-sensory teaching methods both in the classroom and outside.

PREDICTABLE & NON-THREATENING


1- Complexity in design confuses children with low functioning Autism; layout,
spaces, shape and form must be as simple as possible.
2- Non-threatening environment leads to reduced level of anxiety. (R.Khare
2007)

3- Sense of clarity has a calming effect on children and they show reduced level
of challenging behaviour. (R.Khare 2007)
4- Children will feel more comfortable and safe in the environment.

SENSORY INTEGRATION
Sensory dysfunction is the ‘inability to modulate, discriminate, co-ordinate or
organize sensory activities adaptively’. (M Mostafa 2008). By including
sensory skills it helps children to
1- Integrate sense like rolling, jumping, vibrations, music, and different visual
experience for better understanding
2- Calm themselves and develop tolerance in over reactive children.
3- Improves concentration and attention span and reduces behaviour tantrums
in children.

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SAFETY & SECURITY
Children with Autism are unaware of the dangers in the environment due to
their impaired imagination and communication skills. Their sensory
dysfunction attracts them to harmful objects & equipment. Therefore there is a
need to integrate safety and security while designing.
The environment should offer

1- Safe use if fixtures, equipment and fittings.


2- Controlled access to high risk areas.
3- Supervision and ease of observation
4- Presence of help indicators both visual and auditory.

FUTURE INDEPENDENCE
Education in a broader sense is to provide an environment & opportunities for
children to acquire knowledge and skills to lead a productive and independent
life. Same goals applies to children with Autism.
• Self-help training
• Domestic skill training
• Vocational training
Spaces accommodating the above activities must be provided to expose children
to the ‘real-world’ scenario.

19.1 - LINKING ACTIVITIES WITH CONCEPT

 QUIET SPACE - Adaptable and safe environment with no distracting


views. At the same time child should not feel suffocated in the space.

(Ethics of containment)

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 SENSORY INTEGRATION - Away from the hustle bustle of the city
and away from all the sensory distractions like sound and smell. Spatial

sequencing plays an important role in enhancing their sensory activities.

 PROXEMICS - Sensitive to touch; lavish circulation spaces. Group


activity spaces would function better if provided outside.

 LEGIBILITY - All the spaces must be clearly defined; no clash of


activities in a space. Visual cues must be provided to ease their
comprehension.

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20- DESIGN DEVELOPMENT

Puzzle is complete when all the puzzle pieces fall in the right place. This has
been translated into architectural language where each puzzle piece represents
blocks, central axis, and circulation pathways, open and closed spaces which
are overlaid to find a solution to the design.

INITIAL DESIGN STRATEGY

STAGE - 1

PROS

1- All the buildings are located in close


proximity.
2- Common areas connecting Primary and
Secondary blocks.
3- Admin block as high sensory stimulation area
with respect to the form.
4- Hierarchy of open spaces

CONS

1- No visual connectivity between spaces.


2- Long corridors – artificial lighting.
3- Entry to the building highly sensory stimulating which is non-
welcoming.
4- No proper physical connectivity between primary and secondary blocks

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STAGE – 2

It was very important to create visual


connectivity because of their social
impairment, it is difficult for children to
interact with others.
Visual access creates a defined pathway
from home to school and back to home.

PROS

1- A guiding axis leading to all the


blocks.
2- Deliberate tilt in the placement of
the blocks according to the existing wind direction.
3- Common area nearer to all blocks but away from classroom area for
reduced distractions.

CONS

1- Common central courtyard between both the school blocks. Very


intimidating space.
2- Secondary block is not a continuous block.
3- Common area away from administration block.

STAGE – 3

It was very important to create


visual connectivity because of
their social impairment, it is
difficult for children to interact
with others.

Visual access creates a defined


pathway from home to school
and back to home.

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Shape and form of the building were based on the behavioural aspects, sensory
stimulations and psychology of the children based on the literature study and
case study.

FINAL STAGE

BLOCKS IN THE CENTER

1 – ADMIN BLOCK

2- VOCATIONAL CENTER
3- SECONDARY BLOCK
4- PRIMARY BLOCK
5- HEALTH CLINIC
6- DINING HALL AND CANTEEN
7- HOSTEL BLOCK
8- FACULTY RESIDENCES
9- HOME STAYS

DESIGN PRINCIPLES

1- Visual corridor to visually access all the blocks; also the level
differences and varying heights of the blocks help them differentiate the
blocks.
2- Restricted vehicular entry to one side of the site both physically and
visually.

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3- Sensory pathway connecting all the blocks covered with various
textured and scented shrubs and plants.
4- Courtyards amidst all the blocks as a small gathering space rather than
large intimidating gathering space.
5- Various levelled terraces in secondary block.
6- Colour coded blocks for easy navigation between the spaces and easy
identification of the activities.
7- Vocational Training Center for future development of the child.
8- Non-threatening and predictable environment with no repetitive patterns
and textures on the buildings.
9- All blocks have different windows and colour coded doors for easy
identification of the blocks and the built spaces.

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21- ZONING AND SITE PLAN

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22- SECONDARY BLOCK

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23- PRIMARY BLOCK

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24- HOSTEL BLOCK

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25- ALL OTHER BLOCKS

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26- ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS

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27- CONCLUDING COMMENTS

This paper has focused on providing a critique of the existing literature with
respecting the design of educational environments for Autistic children,
drawing out a number of key design criteria. It has then focused on a number
of designs to assess in practice the implementation of those criteria and to
discover where possible further innovative approaches may exist.

There is clearly a requirement for an architect to be aware of the issues


contained within the critique of the literature study. Where these issues are
not addressed they will have a detrimental effect on the ability of the child to
learn or function effectively within their environment. The opportunity exists
to create designs which rather than the provision of a neutral container provide
‘environments for learning’. Clearly this type of space allows teachers and
other professionals to utilise the environment in a way that benefits ‘visual
learning.’ Through this approach the term ‘learning space’ becomes particular
to the experience of the individuals who use it.

Lastly, the literature which exists with respect to designing for autistic
children is not readily available to designers. Educational professionals and
architects would both benefit if design guidance were available in a concise
and accessible form. Furthermore, design programmes involving the
betterment of autistic children by investigating the ‘creation of the classroom
environment as learning tool,’ would bring in tremendous change in their
intervention.

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