Building Access

Nick Hennessey

The Future of Work


Jono Sturt + Clement Blanchet


Building Access asserts that, in forefronting our thinking about design for accessibility, we ask architecture to lead instead of follow. By not defaulting to a delayed reaction to accommodation, this thesis proposes that architecture has the opportunity to become more, and not less, inventive.

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed into law, making it the world’s first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities, illustrating a commitment to full and equal opportunity for all. However, nearly three decades after its implementation, the built environment still creates barriers for the disabled; this reveals that architecture was previously responsible for the creation of disabling environments, and, further, that the architect can prevent people from being disabled when they use buildings.

When it comes to future working environments, the issue no longer lies in the design of a singular workplace, but rather the entirety of the built environment and the integration of a dynamic workforce. This thesis prompts a new future history for architecture and accessibility to be written, exploring the intersectional needs of abled and disabled users in the form of a manual which offers design standards and data necessary for a barrier- free environment. Its intent is to establish standards, principles and recommendations that will not only influence the development and reconstruction of the built environment but assume global importance in creating an equitable future.

Through this understanding, by designing universally accessible environments, the needs of the few are synonymous with those of the many; to invert the balance from thinking of accessible design as addressing the 15% of situations and people, to asking it to address the entirety of the population, guaranteeing everyone’s autonomy regarding the use of the built environment.