It is estimated that 1 out of 7 of the UK population are neurodivergent – that’s almost 15%*. A high percentage of people with neurodivergence are unemployed**. We need more solutions to make learning and workplaces more inclusive.
Angharad Davies’ designs are just that. Her MSc Computational Architecture final year project is a desk-based modular screen, designed to address neurodiversity in the workplace.
She’s also designed the Joey Pod. The calming pod is a solution for schools, hospitals, and public spaces. It’s a safe space for someone to retreat to, before experiencing sensory overloading.
Designing for neurodiversity
Named after Angharad’s son Joey, the idea for the pod was born during the second year of her BSc(Hons) Architecture course, when Joey received an autism diagnosis. That diagnosis changed Angharad’s whole perception of architecture.
“I realised his outbursts were due to his surroundings. In my final project, I reached out to the autism community and realised I wasn’t the only person who felt isolated due to poor building design and a lack of understanding of autism.”Angharad said.
There has been a lot of research about separate Special Educational Needs (SEN) rooms at schools, but Angharad’s concept offers the child a pod in the corner of a room – like a den. The pod uses audio-visual effects and provides a ‘safe zone’ for people with sensory processing problems.
It’s a place to rest and reset, something which is often necessary when interacting with the neuro-typical world. Crucially, this safe space can help avoid an oncoming anxiety attack or an exhausting and alienating meltdown.
“I want to see these solutions everywhere: workplaces, schools, hospitals, airports, festivals, concerts, commercial and sporting events – any busy or public spaces”she explains.
Angharad’s story is one of firsts. An entrepreneur at heart, Angharad has grabbed every opportunity available to her at UWE Bristol.
She founded the Inclusive Design Network (IDN) whilst studying for her undergraduate architecture degree. Thanks to donations from alumni, the UWE Bristol Fund supported IDN to host a series of talks on equality, diversity and inclusion within the built environment. The network has also been supported by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Bristol and Bath.
As one of the first students on the new MSc Computational Architecture course at UWE Bristol, Angharad hopes to go on to complete a PhD in designing for neurodiversity, to enable her to become a Sensory Design Consultant.
Angharad’s modular screen will be on display at the Faculty of Environment and Technology’s degree show in 2022 (our first physical degree show since the coivd-19 Pandemic), alongside many more innovative ideas for products and services which aim to fill gaps in the market.
Emerging talent at UWE Bristol will exhibit work at the annual graduate degree shows for the Creative Industries and Faculty of Environment and Technology. The events will celebrate the University’s ambitious and creative graduating students, through a mix of physical exhibitions and a digital showcase.
The degree shows kick off on Thursday 9 June with The Faculty of Environment and Technology (FET) Degree Show – covering architecture, creative technologies, computing, engineering, geography and the environment, and product design. The free event takes place between 17:00 and 21:00 at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus.
The Creative Industries Degree Show, covering art, design, animation, drawing and print, fashion, media, performance, photography and filmmaking, opens to the public at the University’s vibrant City Campus – Bower Ashton, Arnolfini and Spike Island – on Saturday 11 June. The week-long showcase features a series of events including live music, drama performances, a festival stage and outdoor art gallery.
*reference from Local Government Association presentation.