Standards body BSI is developing the first building design guidance to include the needs of people who experience sensory and neurological processing difficulties. This includes conditions, such as autism which may affect sensory processing and mental wellbeing.
The announcement comes amidst growing awareness of the particular requirements of neurodiversity in the engineering community. The First Dyslexia in Engineering Day takes place this Friday, 9th October.
The fast-tracked standard, PAS 6463, called Design for the mind – Neurodiversity and the built environment – Guide, will provide information for designers, planners, specifiers and FMs on 'particular design features which can make public places more inclusive for everyone, in particular by reducing the potential for sensory overload, anxiety or distress.' It will address sensory design considerations including lighting, acoustics, flooring and décor, BSI added.
The standard will be developed by a steering group of experts in the built environment, transportation, planning and neurodiversity and is expected to publish in April 2021.. It is sponsored by Transport for London, Forbo Flooring Systems, engineering consultant BuroHappold and the BBC.
Rob Turpin, Head of Healthcare Standards at BSI said: “Neurodivergent people face daily design-based challenges living and working in the built environment. PAS 6463 will take the first step to help address these challenges by developing authoritative guidance on how to create mindful, modern and inclusive environments that recognise the diverse needs of individuals.”
Jean Hewitt, Senior Inclusive Design Consultant at BuroHappold said: “In addition to designing places to accommodate our diversity in form, size and physical ability, there is also a profound need to design for neurological difference. Since my first involvement in this area in 2009, I have hoped for some progress for the many neurodivergent colleagues, friends and family whose lives are unnecessarily blighted by places that don’t work for them. Some have a formal diagnosis, but many do not; there are also many neurotypical people more mildly but regularly affected, perhaps triggering unsteadiness, migraines or experiencing extra daily stress through elements that are not intuitive for them. I believe at least 20 per cent of the population are negatively impacted by elements that could so easily be adjusted or eliminated during design without any cost implications."
He added: "This PAS is an opportunity to ask designers to carefully consider this normal neurological diversity of humans rather than just meeting basic regulatory demands. Places should be comfortable to visit and use without encountering emotional distress or difficulty and I’m very excited to be involved in developing some guidance to help make this the case for many more people”.