8th Dec 2020 — The next 50 years of design and…

The next 50 years of design and construction…

Habinteg Housing Association is a social housing provider delivering and promoting accessible homes and communities across England and Wales. At the heart of their ethos is a belief that having an accessible home in an inclusive setting can transform the lives of disabled people and those around them. Sarah Wigglesworth Architects strongly agree with Habinteg’s vision for communities to include disabled people, offering places to live that meet their needs and provide the highest levels of independence, choice and control over daily life. You can read more about Habinteg on their website.

The Habinteg 2020 Prize competition marked 50 years of Habinteg and asked entrants to consider how the design and construction of homes and neighbourhoods could develop over the next 50 years in order to be inclusive regardless of impairment. It was open to both academic and non-academic entries and disabled people were particularly encouraged to enter, as well as students of subjects such as disability studies, occupational therapy, architecture or inclusive design. The prize competition was sponsored by the Borwick Charitable Trust whose chair, Lord Jamie Borwick, led the judging panel.


Fig 1: steps to follow - the more diverse that those involved in the design process are, the higher the chance of an inclusive built environment


Following an office-wide workshop in April, Clare proposed a 3 Stage Framework that architects and designers can follow to embed diverse voices within the design process. The short essay provides a high-level overview of these 3 stages, hoping to urge readers into action using a bottom-up approach. The winners were set to be announced at a celebration reception at the Palace of Westminster in Autumn, however, this event moved online due to the pandemic. We are delighted that Clare came joint runner up from the 10 essays which were shortlisted! The winning entry was from another recently qualified architect, Kathryn Thomas, who’s essay calls for a re-evaluation of town planning, greater emphasis on inclusion and accessibility, and for an evaluation of national policy to ensure accessible housing is delivered in all new developments in a top-down approach. You can read more about the winning entries here.



When asked why she entered, Clare said:

“I see my roles as architect and diversity champion at Sarah Wigglesworth Architects as intertwined, and I feel the growing need to use this platform I have to facilitate conversations for change within the design and construction of our built environment. If architects out there aren’t questioning our industry, I’m asking you why not?! It’s no secret that our industry’s approach to inclusivity (and EDI in general) needs to improve, but rather than just pointing out all that’s wrong in the industry, I wanted to enter this competition to propose a framework that designers can follow, not only to create a more inclusive and diverse design process, but also more inclusive and diverse architectural education and architectural practice, because fundamentality these things are completely interdependent and must be thought about holistically.”


Fig 2: diagram showing how removal of one barrier effecting a number of individuals/groups could create another barrier effecting a different individual/group.