We see with surprise that the Engine Shed has been declared ‘Best Building 2018’ in the Stirling Society of Architects Design Awards, and has received other accolades too.
This building cost £11m in public money yet has failed to address important aspects of building design that allow it to be accessible to all members of society.
The list of poor access provision includes:
lack of proper disabled parking, which makes access difficult or impossible for some with mobility issues;
poor management of noise and acoustics, which creates difficulties and discomfort for people with hearing loss;
information displays that offer no audio alternative to allow those with visual impairment to access the information;
the large map installation that requires a interaction by a digital tablet, which is difficult or impossible to use by those with visual impairment or dexterity issues.
Perhaps these issues can be glossed over because a back-to-front building looks good.
The Access Panel, however, believes it is a poor reflection of a caring society if architects don’t recognise that buildings and their internal features have to be accessible for all of society, including the 20% who are disabled.
We also feel that a publicly-funded building that ignores the access needs of a significant section of the population should not be held up as an example of a ‘Best Building’.