ARCHITECTURE OF INSTITUTIONS FOR DYSLEXIC STUDENTS

ABSTRACT

Architecture is mainly concerned with not only creating a built environment that meets the physical needs of the users but also psycho- social and cultural needs as well. A scheme is said to be effective when it adequately meets those needs.

Dyslexia and its associated conditions collectively called Learning Disabilities, are a group of exceptional conditions that affect the senses and respective response, requires a specific environment in order for proper therapy to be conducted. Ideally there are various design parameters which if observed, would result in a friendly environment to these individuals both indoor and outdoor. By understanding the mechanisms of these conditions and their consequent needs, the environment may be designed favourably to create a conducive environment for skill development learning and therapy.

Traditionally, individuals with dyslexia and its associated conditions have been dubbed as lazy and stupid but recent studies show otherwise as indicated by Ron Davis in ‘The Gift of Dyslexia’ (1994) who says that the same mental functions that yield a genius also yields these conditions. The design approach for these institutions has mostly been generic to any other special needs institutions. Through literature review, some essential design parameters have been established. These parameters create a guideline to a friendly design. This study establishes factors within the architect’s control that impact the well-being of these individuals and goes further to explain the impact of each of these factors and how they may be applied to achieve a friendly design.

In the course of this study, some existing local institutions used by individuals with dyslexia and its associated conditions were visited and analysed, various fundamental components were established and some lessons learnt. There were a few attempts to make these institutions friendly to its users, however, there is also a lot more potential to improve and also increase the architects understanding of dyslexia and its associated conditions. Recommendations are therefore made and they stress on the need to apply the mentioned design parameters as appropriate.

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