Date of Award
Master in Interior Architecture
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. It is estimated that worldwide 1 in 160 children has ASD, and in China, about 1 in 69 children has ASD.
There are many successful educational environments specially designed for people on the spectrum to support learning, understanding, and behaving. However, after graduating, it is usually very hard for people on the spectrum to move toward independence because there is a huge difference between school environments and office environments.
Most office environments are designed to meet the majority workers’ needs, but they are not supportive for people on the spectrum. There are very few innovative companies that recognize the unique skills that people on the spectrum and design their office carefully to support them. Most companies don’t consider the special needs of people on the spectrum while designing their office, which makes people with ASD struggle to find jobs because of the anxiety that might be caused by unsupportive workspaces.
An office’s interior configurations has a great impact on employees’ performance. It is important to create a supportive office environment for both people on the spectrum and those who have other forms of anxiety at work. The key to an autism friendly and anxiety free office is balance. The space will be divided in a way to create a balance between working and relaxing, private and open, as well as light and shade. Focusing on productivity, privacy, and flexibility, I will create a system that can be applied to any type of building to make an office ASD friendly. The system provides employees the personal space they need, ABSTRACT and at the same time it encourages employees to communicate. The proposed site is located in Laodaowai District, Harbin, China, and the existing site conditions are not ideal for people on the spectrum for their work performance. The site will be an example of how the autism friendly system can be applied to any type of building, even one in a problematic setting.
Most people on the spectrum have sensory problems. According to Autism Speaks, In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association added sensory sensitivities to the symptoms that help diagnose autism. Autism’s sensory issues can involve both hyper-sensitivities (over-responsiveness) and hypo-sensitivities (under-responsiveness) to a wide range of stimuli. It is important to balance the environment through the five senses to make sure that they are not experiencing sensory overload or sensory deprivation. The ideal autism friendly environment should take care of the special needs of people on the spectrum. People on the spectrum need a lot of personal space, and it is important to make sure that they have enough room to be alone. In addition, people on the spectrum do not like unpredictable moments, sharp corners, long corridors, and irregular shapes that make them feel insecure and puzzled. Complicated circulation should also be avoided because they are easy to get lost. Way-finding is a very important element in an autism friendly office. It is important to use colors, patterns, textures, signs..., to navigate people through the office. Not only people on the spectrum are invited to the office. General population, people who have anxiety problems and people who desire a relaxing working environment are all welcomed to work in the office. The employees will get the comfort of working from home, as well as the productivity of working at a formal office.
Ren, Naixin, "Envisioning work : an autism friendly and anxiety free office" (2020). Masters Theses. 548.
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