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How To Learn Sign Language

A New Architecture for a More Livable and Sustainable World | Hansel Bauman | TEDxGallaudet

Translator: Thomas Horejes
Reviewer: Denise RQ [The interpretation
provided for this presentation is live and unrehearsed. Interpreter(s) assigned may or may not have had materials
in advance for preparation. Inaccuracies related
to the content of the material may be due to imperfections
in the interpreting process. This interpretation has not
been reviewed by the presenter.] Hello everyone. Hello. I am an architect here
at Gallaudet University and have been for seven years now. And my presentation is the stories of what I’ve learned
from the deaf community here and how that speaks
to the story of deaf people searching for the space of their own. And within the broader world, how we also are looking
for sustainability and livability. And this is in fact
the story of how deaf space, this innate knowledge and wisdom
that deaf people have around architecture, how that actually tells
new and inspiring stories of different approaches
we can take to architecture that start internally,
physically with the body and then result in more empathetic design. In my childhood, I grew up
and became an architect during the time of what is known
as the modern paradigm in architecture. I’m going to be referring
to the modern paradigm a number of times
in my presentation today. The modern paradigm
always thinks of the building first in terms of building
a beautiful thing, and the building being important, but the people
are not attended to as well. So, in this process, we have to start
thinking less about the abstract first and more about the people. Because they’ve been secondary
to our notion of building, especially deaf people. So if we think first in the abstract, and think secondarily of the people, then there’s a disconnect that’s critical. It creates stressors and isolation. It creates conflict for the people
inhabiting the buildings. So my question for all of you now is how in the design world
we can create more sustainable design and design wherein there is not the disconnect between the people
and the architecture of the space itself? So now I want to look at new approaches to more sustainable worlds, and greater connection between the people
and the buildings that they inhabit. I want to contrast this modern paradigm
with the organic paradigm. When I came to Gallaudet,
that’s when I began to learn about this. I really learned about it here, because they don’t teach it
in architecture. If you look at the design
of a nest, for example. This is the space
where a newborn bird is born. The design of the nest itself
reflects its use, reflects the creatures that inhabit it. We have to look at these notions
to truly build a sustainable world. And we have to think
a little bit more now about the search of deaf people
for space of their own. I would like to share with you
three different quotes that establish
this philosophical foundation. [The occupation of space
is the first proof of existence.] The first is the desire to establish
a standing space which one owns that proves the existence of its owner. The need of human identity that we must first identify
the human identity of a space before we identify the space itself. We also have to look at the fact that peoples and cultures
have different languages, but at the same time, they also have
different sensitivities to the world. They attend to different things
in their world. So if we studied this
a bit and studied this search for a space of our own, we have to think about what that means. How we integrate with these spaces. So in recent history,
we’ve seen these conversations began. Many deaf students grow up
going to schools for the deaf. And that’s their background
for their learning and establishes
a great deal of their identity. Well, design has a great impact
on the schools themselves. Whether or not they create
senses of isolation and stresses, the notion the buildings can reinforce
external perceptions of a group, that can have a negative impact
on one’s own identity development. That can also have a negative impact
on a person’s well being. So, indeed, we all agree
that had this has a negative effect, but we also have to look
at positive effects here as well, because it creates
a deep need, a deep desire to create a space that is home. And there’s a wonderful example of this. Some nine years ago, a group of deaf people gathered together
to work together to create a new community in Laurent, South Dakota and this was a wonderful idea. I agree, we all know
that’s not currently built. But there’s a lot of energy
required to make that happen. And so it speaks
to the great, deep-seated desire to have a space
where one’s own language and culture is present and one’s own way of being and interconnectedness
with each other and the space is existent. Every day, deaf people experience
different kinds of struggles with their environment. The environment is designed
by people like me, hearing architects; and that’s a problem. It doesn’t really fit the ways of being, and ways of seeing,
and language of deaf people. And so how we are informed
of things in the space that we don’t see, the space behind us
for example by lighting, by other architectural features,
is important. It has an effect on the well being
of the people inhabiting those buildings. There is something positive
to be found in this, though; that it inspires new notions
about how we modify the world, modify spaces, and architecture
to fit ways of being. Architects also have
their own language of meaning. We have to examine how this fits with deaf ways of being
and visual language. We also have to look at the sensory reach
that the space allows, we know we extend sensory reach
behind us where we can’t see to infer information about our world, but how do we do this collectively
and as a culture within the deaf world? There are three powerful impacts
we found on these basic ideas: of form, lighting, and material, and some of the language of architecture
refers to these ideas. But we have to look
also in a visual language of what are the proximity requirements, the lighting requirements, to allow that visual language to occur? Given a visual language,
we have to think about what is the background
for that visual language, how do we encourage greater sensory reach? What also are the materials
that we’re working with that propagate vibration and inform me about things happening
within my environment? How do we design a space that promotes a collective discussion,
people unified together in visual design that is more cohesive? And if we take all of these ideas together and put them together in a single room, you can see some of the implications here because in a building designed
by Edward Hopper, the artist, he gives us a visualization of what this kind of interconnectedness
of a space and its people would look like. This image,
we see people gathered together for a very tight-knit conversation. And you can see also how the light is pooling around the people and creating a mood
in the environment of this painting, so you have both the private conversation
and the public space in balance. At Gallaudet, we had the opportunity to build two new buildings
based on this concept of deaf space. The first one was the SLCC. In that building, we started
the process of workshopping, we gathered deaf people together to share ideas about space, how we could build it in an open way. And this building was completed in 2009. You can see many of the ideas
coming to fruition there. However, some missed the mark. We wondered why we had
missed the mark in such a way. But we realized we went
about the process somewhat wrongly. I say that because the SLCC was designed
using the modern paradigm, contrasting that
with the organic deaf paradigm. And so that has continued throughout
the development of that building. So then we tried a newer approach
on our next building. And you can see that in our new dormitory. You will see here two pictures showing the design of the large public-space room and how it’s designed for
a visual language. You’ll see that in its tiered sections. So that can allow for three disparate areas
of conversation or one as a whole. And the major difference here is
it was designed by deaf people, it had deaf people involved
in the architecture of it. And one of the things
that I think is so cool about that is the nature of the tiered stages sets a material grounding
that people are then connected to in an intricate way. This is much more the organic approach, the organic paradigm, which is essentially
the deaf paradigm as well. We see this referred to in the field of
architecture as the vernacular approach. The vernacular approach looks
at how we create connectedness in our approach
to the buildings that we build. So how do deaf people
connect to these spaces? This presents a number of challenges. So now, we have an environment
that has lots of isolation and stressors. How do we transform that? We do that by making the environment and its negative impact on the spirit,
and the body, and the stressors, we transform that. We have to look at how design can create
a more sustainable world that eliminates as many
of these stressors as possible. I’m going to show you now
three very exciting challenges that we have in the world of architecture
that deaf space poses to us. Deaf space presents
positive solutions to all of these. The first is we look
at our population aging. We age pretty quickly,
I certainly know that. But we have solutions
to some of these effects of aging; universal design, how we design spaces for all people,
including the elderly. Now we also are faced with
issues of climate change now. The world of design has approached this by trying to build
green, more sustainable buildings. We also have now,
more than ever before in history, people congregating in cities
and urban environments which create additional stressors. But once again, we have solutions to this. In looking at social equity,
and design, and planning in these business
and economic approaches to equity are three approaches to external problems
within the world that are present. But one thing
we haven’t yet thought about is how the body and the design integrate. And we haven’t thought about this
in this visceral way. For many years, deaf people
have known these things innately; how to alter the environment
so it fits their way of embodiment. So what I propose now are some specific examples of how deaf people
can contribute to solving some of these great problems
in our world today. One of these is promoting
the idea of embodied design so that within the design process we can, you know, inspire new ways
of teaching empathetic design, design wherein the environment
and the design policy is affected by the understanding of the people. This will also have an effect on
the business of design and architecture. And the main point of this is deaf people
do so by leading by example. Also, we have to think
about who makes change happen in these approaches. If we’re building a building, then we have to have deaf space principles
incorporated into it. We now have
a world-wide community of deaf architects here at Gallaudet, and other designers that can create
this change more broadly in the world. If we look at
the 6th Street property development, we’re trying to design
around deaf space concepts there, and doing so successfully. We have to think about development policy and design policy
for our world as a whole. So in closing, for my presentation, I would like to just thank all
of the people in the deaf community who have taught me so much about how we can approach
the world differently. With that, I thank you.

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