Inclusive design and pedagogy: An outline of three innovations

Iain Scott, Fiona McLachlan, Katherine Brookfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How effectively is ‘inclusive design’ taught in schools of architecture? What different forms, both implicit and explicit, do approaches to the subject take? What key approaches do we need to teach architecture students so they are equipped to deliver inclusive-for-all environments?

We engage with these questions by focusing on ‘inclusive design’ pedagogy, providing a critical overview of learning requirements, and teaching strategies. Drawing on our own experience in a Scottish school of architecture, we discuss three case studies that featured innovative approaches to the subject. In the first, students and older adults co-designed proposals for ‘age-friendly’ environments, the second considers social responsibility and inclusion, through a five-year engagement with a community and the third consisted of a regulatory drawing exercise. We demonstrate that inclusive design in architectural education traditionally begins and ends with regulatory compliance, minimum standard provision and physical access. We detail alternative approaches and the benefits these can bring; for example, approaches that treat regulatory frameworks as opportunities for innovation, and approaches that focus on supportive (physically, emotionally, psychologically), rather than simply barrier-free, environments. Lastly, accepting that engaging end-users in design decisions might be one mechanism for ensuring inclusive-for-all environments, we argue that students need opportunities to build and practice community participation and engagement skills. We describe how we successfully built such opportunities into undergraduate and postgraduate architecture and landscape architecture courses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-22
Number of pages14
JournalBuilt Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2018


  • Inclusive design
  • pedagogy

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