autism school case study architecture

How autism-friendly architecture can change autistic children’s lives

autism school case study architecture

Senior Lecturer in Interior Architecture, Leeds Beckett University

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Joan Scott Love does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Leeds Beckett University provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

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Imagine wearing a hearing aid on its highest setting and being unable to make any adjustment. You can hear the speech of the person next to you – but, at the same volume, you hear birdsong through an open window, the air conditioning whirring above and the traffic droning outside. The difference in the layers of sound cannot be filtered and a cacophony results. Combine this with some of your senses being crossed or scrambled, rather like a poor telephone connection, and you start to appreciate how some people on the autistic spectrum encounter the world . It is small wonder that productive teaching of an autistic child presents a challenge.

Within our living spaces, all of us are bombarded with an array of stimulating sensory inputs – sound, smell, touch, taste, movement – and a never-ending deluge of visual information. Many people manage to filter and cope, but people with autism encounter the world differently. Sensory difficulties can cause hyper-sensitivity (sense too much) or hypo-sensitivity (sense too little), or combinations of both . The environment becomes a confusing place when attempting to process “ too much information ”. Unexpected changes cause anxieties, which are challenging to manage, and the level of stimuli can tip the balance, to cause sensory overload, sometimes misinterpreted as a tantrum.

An optimised learning environment is vital for every child. For autistic children, the importance of environment is magnified, as are the benefits that can be achieved through appropriate architecture and design.

Over the past five years, I’ve been conducting research into how to teach the design of autism environments to future designers, with eight case study schools and colleges. The research has identified a number of ways schools can adjust spaces to help children and young people with autism cope with their surroundings and, therefore, learn more effectively.

How schools can help

In particular, the recommendations take into account the value to autistic people of preparation before an activity as this allows information to be processed at an individual’s required rate. This gives children time to understand what is expected of them. It also reduces anxieties, provides reassurance and enhances learning receptivity.

1. Provide pause places

autism school case study architecture

Make the most of any open alcoves or recesses. Clear any small spaces “under the stairs” or in an outside area, providing an opportunity to stand back, process information and recalibrate. It could mean removing a door from a shallow cupboard or locating a “pop up” tent. This is particularly important when moving from one building to another – when the difference between environments is significant.

2. Multiple entrances help

A main entrance may be too busy, so provide a quieter, alternative side entrance. Schools can also help by establishing a slow longer route from the playground to classrooms, as well as a quick short route – again giving both choice and time to process information.

Equally, softening the boundary from an internal to an external space can also help. An external canopy, for example, can create an ideal outdoor learning space to help with anxieties surrounding sudden sensory change.

3. Windows can offer reassurance

Some children have anxiety and ritualistic behaviours, and may want to spend time returning to a space they have just occupied, for reassurance. If strategically placed openings are provided, they do not need to go back physically to this space for reassurance, they can look back from a short distance. This allows more time for learning in the classroom.

4. Join the dots

Schools should also look at offering activities that emulate real life tasks, as this will help autistic children to see patterns and connections with things. A simple mock up shop, for example, both inside the classroom, and outside in the playground, could help children to learn how to generalise the skill of exchanging payment for goods, across differing environments.

A richer learning experience

What are known as “taster spaces” are also a great idea, as these can offer children an area to spent time participating in a pre-activity which helps them to explore part of a bigger activity in a smaller way.

autism school case study architecture

This can help children to build up to the final activity – such as playing a percussion wall, before playing an instrument, or relating to a water channel before immersion in a pool.

As these ideas show, the need to encourage a richer learning experience, in a regulated responsive environment , is paramount for autistic children and young people. An essential consideration is that no two autistic people experience their environments in the same way, so there is no one approach or solution to sensory issues. But small, individually led adjustments (like those outlined above) can make a material difference, and really help to improve learning and quality of life of autistic children and their families.

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  • PMC9326241.1 ; 2021 Oct 26
  • ➤ PMC9326241.2; 2022 Jul 25

Autism spectrum disorder in architecture perspective: a review of the literature and bibliometric assessment of research indexed in Web of Science

Reham moniem ali.

1 Interior Design Department, College of Design, Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University, Saudi Arabia, Eastern Province, PO. 1982, Saudi Arabia

Hala A. El-Wakeel

Deema faisal al-saleh, mai ibrahim shukri, khadeeja m n ansari, associated data, underlying data.

Zenodo: Underlying data for 'autism spectrum disorder in architecture perspective: A review of the literature and bibliometric assessment of research indexed in Web of Science'.

Data are available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC-BY 4.0).

Version Changes

Revised. amendments from version 1.

The authors have conducted a more in-depth study by going through title by title, abstract, and keywords to identify the relevant papers in terms of architectural design and built environment perspective and added three more columns to the table no. 1 for the number of papers in architectural and in design in general with the total number of citations. This addition made a significant difference in version 2 of the paper from version 1.  Moreover, the authors have implemented the suggestions given by reviewers, in terms of extending the literature review by adding previous scientometric studies done on ASD research. The researchers have suggested a few emerging areas of the study and highlighted a few emerging and important keywords which were found missing. Overall, the study has been improved now with more extensive research output.

Peer Review Summary

An increasing number of scholarly publications on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have urged researcher interest in this topic; however, there is still a lack of quantitative analysis. Therefore, this study aims to cover the knowledge gap between the amount of literature published on ASD research on architectural and designers' perspectives compared to the medical and psychological fields. The study has analyzed global research output on ASD from a designer's perspective to recognize this gap related to designing the physical environment. 


The bibliometric method was employed to analyze the published literature from 1992–to 2021. 812 papers were downloaded from the Web of Science for analysis based on annual growth of literature, prolific authors, authorship pattern, organizations, countries, international collaboration, and subject development by keywords and thematic map analyses. Various bibliometric and scientometric software was used to analyze the data, namely Bibexcel, Biblioshiny, and VOS viewer.

The812 research papers were published in 405 sources. 2019 appeared as a productive year (NP=101), and 2014 received the highest number of citations (TC=6634). Researchers preferred to publish as journal articles (NP=538; TC=24922). The University of Toronto, Canada, was identified as a productive institution with 42 publications and 5358 citations. The USA was the leading producing country with 433 publications, and most of the researchers published in the journal " Scientific Reports " (NP=16). The word autism (NP=257) and architecture (NP=165) were more frequently used keywords.


The study identified a massive gap in the development of literature in ASD for architecture design and built environment perspective, the most important and trending keywords are missing, and the analyses also showed a lack of subject development. The authors have suggested areas and keywords for further research to fulfill the gap in the future.

Background study of ASD

ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects children from a young age. It is marked by functional impairment in social communication, limited interests, selective attention, repetitive habits, as well as hypersensitivity to touch, vision, taste, or sound in certain people ( Remington et al. , 2009 ). Autistic disorder, high-functioning autism (HFA), Asperger syndrome (AS), pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and atypical autism is all diagnostic terminology that has previously been employed. ASD is expected to affect one out of every 88 children in the United States, with one out of every 56 boys being affected. ( Taghizadeh et al. , 2015 ). The diagnosis rates for ASD have increased sharply worldwide in the last 40 years compared with other disabilities ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022 )

Pallasmaa (2005) , diagnosed with ASD, said: 'I confront the city with my body.' The interaction between a person and their environment produces many physical and mental challenges for ASD. Therefore, the built environment is an important factor that significantly influences individuals' behavior directly and indirectly. ASD children are a special case, which should be defined to help them access space and inhabit it. Two issues must be considered to understand the impact of the environment on the development of one's life ( Horne, 1997 ):

  • 1-   The identification of the physical environment in its material and symbolic context.
  • 2-   The impact of the environment on one's behavior and how people perceive themselves and their surroundings.

Autistic people have difficulties in processing the information from the physical environment through their senses, especially the influence of environmental stressors like noise and clutter, and they are forced to exert more effort to understand it. The difficulty in understanding provokes frustration and erratic behavior.

Theoretical models of autism

Many human-environment interaction research conducted by environmental psychologists have focused on the environment's psychological factors rather than the physical setting. This section will clarify the relationship between autism and the environment.

1- Human ecosystem (HES)

In 1992, Guerin defined the Human ecosystem (HES) theory model in a learning environment to understand autistic behavior. The variables in this progress are related to the specific model components:

  • a.   HO, human organism: gender, age, number of children, and the level of diagnosing
  • b.   DE, designed environment: control of entry and exit (safety/security); classroom configuration and adaptability to make changes; lighting (artificial light/daylight); acoustics/noise; thermal comfort (temperature, humidity, ventilation, i.e. indoor air quality); wayfinding; building; FF&E (furnishings, fixtures, and equipment) materials and finishes (color, pattern) ( Kopec, 2012 ; Martin & Guerin, 2010 ).
  • c.   NE, natural environment: access to daylight and natural ventilation, as well as green space and/or water ( i.e . landscape elements).
  • d.   SE, social environment: visual, auditory, and physical communication method, as well as communication and interaction among children and caregivers in the same physical area.

Some researchers regarding the Nature of autism are convinced that autism is a pandemic of modern culture, with environmental factors at the roots such as pollution; researchers found early-life exposure to air pollution may be a risk factor for autism. ( Naviaux, 2012 ).

2- Performance prediction model (PPM)

The performance prediction model (PPM) describes the transactions between the users and their physical environment through the behavior. Also, understand how the physical environment affects user variables by observing behavior. In addition, clarify the interaction between the three components to lead to universal design principles. Even though this model is not explicitly created for ASD children, the research can be applied to users with different personal characteristics or functional abilities. This model consists of three main components (user variables, behavior, and environment). The variables in this progress are related to these specific components:

  • a.   User abilities: individual characteristics and functional abilities.
  • b.   Task outcome: behavior and experiential.
  • c.   Physical environment: physical characteristics, organization, and ambiance.
  • d.   Universal design: equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, and size and space for approach and use.

This model is used as a guide for the designer in designing different types of the physical environment for different users because it helps to categorize the users according to their characteristics, which are:

  • Cognitive abilities: include all complex mental function proses to make an action, for example, decision-making and planning ( ICF illustration library, 2021 )
  • Social and communication: include all components of the communication process with others by using different devices and methods to deliver or perceive massages ( World Health Organization, 2017 )
  • Sensory functions: includes touch, smell, visual, and hearing systems ( ICF illustration library, 2021 )
  • Mobility: the ability to manage body movements such as changing body position or location, carrying objects, and performing physical activities ( ICF illustration library, 2021 )

The characteristics of autism are varied in intensity, degree, and amount and manifest differently from person to person and over time. The common characteristics associated with ASD are loosely based on the DSM-5, common features of ASD, and PMM on ASD.

  • 1.   Cognitive abilities
  • 2.   Social and communication interaction
  • 3.   Sensory function
  • 4.   Activity performance

There is limited research on how environments may affect behavior and be designed to meet the needs of those with ASD. Also, there is a lack of information on the experience of spaces and perceptions by people with autism. Only two research have been found namely 'MEDIATE – a responsive environment designed for children with autism ( Gumtau et al. , 2005 ) and 'Could light colour and source change mood in children with autism? ( Hernandez Rivera, 2020 ).

3- Theoretical underpinnings of design

Interior designers concentrate on the design of the interior environment with the requirements of the person who will inhabit the space as the driving force behind all design decisions. Human factors, lighting, occupant wellbeing and performance, post-occupancy evaluation, research, theories about the relationship between human behavior and the designed environment, and universal design are among the ten knowledge areas covered by the 'Human Environment Needs: Research and Application' (HEN) category.

Experts on ASD consider the first six years of school, from preschool to sixth grade, important in reaching children and laying the groundwork for lifelong learning and general wellbeing. Even when daily activities are meticulously organized, classrooms attended by children with ASD or other children are highly dynamic, unpredictable environments. Because of this instability, examining the architecture of classroom space in schools where children with ASD attend from preschool to sixth grade is difficult. However, the framework identified by ( Guerin, 1992 ), which recognized the interaction of the human organism (HO), the BTE, the natural environment (NE), and the behavioral environment (BHE).

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complicated neurological disorder that, until now, has been inscrutable. The population of individuals on the spectrum worldwide is increasing due to the increased awareness. As their numbers grow, professionals in many fields started studying their ASD cases to provide them with a better life ( Hauptman et al. , 2019 ). Individuals on the spectrum are part of a growing population usually ignored in design despite the current tendency to create designs that focus on persons with special needs. There are binding recommendations and laws on designing buildings that respect physical disabilities, and the field is rich in design applications for physical needs ( Sánchez et al. , 2011 ). By contrast, there is utter indifference toward the person with mental health disabilities, even with guidelines for inclusion of children with physical impairment are used and successful, the inclusion of children with mental disabilities lags much behind ( Bilbo et al. , 2015 ) in their research mentioned that "the environment plays a role in human behavior" that greatly influenced the practice of interior architects designing people centers design. ASD children have sensory processing difficulties, which create challenges in understanding the surrounding environment, thus affecting their behaviors negatively ( Sánchez et al. , 2011 ). The built environment can cause extra confusion, which negatively impacts children with ASD due to the challenging developmental disorder of the ASD. Architects and interior architects are responsible for providing an inclusive built environment to improve the quality of life, especially for people with special needs ( Kopec, 2012 ), yet it is still relatively unnoticed by architects and designers as it's still excluded from building codes or design guidelines. Environmental and behavioral research has profoundly influenced the practice of interior architecture as it's vital to explore the environmental design for autism.

A vast amount of literature has been published on autism in medical and psychological journals over the years. However, few studies from an architectural perspective have been published even though the role of the sensory environment in autistic behavior has been an issue of debate since Leo Kanner first defined the disorder in 1943 ( Kanner, 1943 ). Recently, architects have become interested in finding out about the relationship between environment and autistic behavior to provide a suitable environment and support wellbeing.

Few interior designers and architects have yet started to define codes and guidelines such as Autism Planning and Design Guidelines 1.0 by Knowlton School of Architecture (2018) as a design solution for ASD to build autism-friendly surroundings that support users with ASD and prepare them to face other environments. The designer's approach usually compares children with ASD and without through their behaviors to find the differences in their needs in the environment ( Delmolino & Harris, 2012 ). Environmental and behavioral research has profoundly influenced architecture, and there is a growing need and trend toward user-centered and evidence-based design research to create an environment where people with ASD can thrive.

Few scientometric studies have been done to cover the knowledge gap in the ASD research, in that the authors considered examining the topic generally, such as Ozgur & Balci (2022) . They found that 'studies on autism have increased significantly in recent years. While approximately 150 studies were published annually in the early 80s, around 6000 studies were published in 2020. In this study, 59653 publications were retrieved, 63.69% of which were journal articles. The remaining publications were reviews, meeting abstracts, editorial materials, proceedings papers, etc. The primary language was English (96.70%) for the retrieved articles. Other languages like Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, etc., were also encountered.

Sweileh et al. (2016) studied growth of ASD research from 2005 to 2014 and found a total of 18,490 articles were retrieved. The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, with 48,416 citations and an average of 23.59 citations per article, was identified as the most prolific journal. The United States (US) (n = 8594; 46.48 %), the United Kingdom (n = 2430; 13.14 %) and Canada (n = 1077; 5.8 %) have been most productive countries. King's College London (UK) was found on the top of the list for producing literature and receiving citations. 50% of the highly cited articles were in molecular genetics, and the papers with more than 50 citations were published mainly by authors from USA, UK, and Canada.

The above general studies conclude that most literature is based on medical, biotechnology, and psychological perspectives. Most funding agencies are identified as medical institutions, and the US is the most contributing country to generating the literature. Most ASD research in article form and double and triple authorship has more consideration. The citation rate shows an increase in the trend, and the growth in ASD research literature in terms of medical and psychological are noted as a steady increase and are higher in this decade.

However, the development of ASD literature in the architectural field has not been found. Therefore, based on the scientometric analysis, the present study considers estimating and identifying the gaps in the available literature on ASD from the architectural perspective compared to the literature available from the other perspectives, such as medical and psychological.

Research questions

  • 1) What are the annual research trends and types of ASD research based on architectural design perspectives from 1992–to 2021?
  • 2) Which authors are the most prolific, and what is the authorship trend in autism research?
  • 4) What are the most relevant journals in journals in autism?
  • 5) What are the most important organizations and countries in autism?
  • 6) What are the most used keywords of autism in the field of architecture?
  • 7) What are the most global collaborative countries producing scientific literature on autism?
  • 8) What were the most cited documents and cited references in autism?
  • 9) What are the most influential funding agencies?

Research methodology

Statistical techniques are used to analyze different types of publications such as books, conferences, journal articles, etc ., known as bibliometrics. Scientometrics is the sub-field of bibliometrics that studies quantitative means of investigation, scholarly publishing practices, publishing trends, trend topics, etc . This study, therefore, applies the scientometric method to ASD in the architecture field to estimate the literature gap. The required literature on autism was retrieved from the Web of Science (as of 4 th June 2021). The following search query involved in the Web of Science database ( Clarivate Analytics, 2020 )

  • • TOPIC: "autism"
  • • Refined by: TOPIC: "architecture"
  • • Further refined by language: English
  • • Timespan: All years. Indexes: SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, A&HCI, CPCI-S, CPCI-SSH, ESCI.

812 documents have been retrieved ( Figure 1 ) for final analysis during 1992–2021. All the research data was downloaded in BibTeX, Tab-Delimited (win), plain text, and analyzed with Microsoft Excel (RRID:SCR_016137; Google Sheets (RRID:SCR_017679) is an open access alternative) and Scientometric and bibliometrics tools, namely Bibexcel ( Persson et al. , 2009 ), Biblioshiny ( Aria & Cuccurullo, 2017 ), and VOSviewer ( van Eck & Waltman, 2010 ).

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Results and discussion

From 1992 to 2021, 405 sources were contributed by 5088 authors with 812 papers in autism. Single authored documents were 61 papers; hence authors in autism produce more research in collaboration. The average number of years of publications is 5.74, the average number of citations per document 43.21, and the average number of citations per year per document 5.711. 36,654 references have been consulted to produce 812 research papers. The number of documents per author is 0.16, authors per document are 6.27, Co-authors per document is 8.16, and the collaboration index is 6.71.

Annual research growth and citation's structure in autism spectrum disorder during 1992–2021

The first research paper on autism was recorded in 1992 with 382 citations (no publication indexed in 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2003), similar results reported by ( Kumar et al. , 2021 ). Though the research output gradually increases, but shallow up until 2012. The autism research increased markedly after 2013, noticeably more than 50 papers appeared every year after 2013. The year 2019 was the most successful in term of the number of the article (NP=101), followed by the year 2016 and 2017, in which the second highest number of research papers published, coincidently the year 2018 and 2020 have equal number published articles (NP=84) and the year 2021 have 35 papers with 19 citations. The highest number of citations received in 2014 (TC=6634) for 53 publications, followed by the year 2011 (TC=4078) for 31 papers and the year 2010 (TC=3108, TP=34) ( Table 1 ).

*NP=Number of Publications **TC=Total Number of Citations

The authors have scanned all these documents to pinpoint the exact number of research papers purely on architectural design perspective and found a quite low number also, some of it belongs to art and design, these numbers represent the actual gap in the literature, which authors intended to explore and found that gap is quite huge. See ( Table 1 ).

The first paper on ASD research based on a purely architectural design perspective was published in 2004 and then in 2008. These papers remain unrecognized since they didn't receive a single citation. After a gap of 5 years, another research published under the title "Autism and Architecture" by Segado VF and Segado TA in 2013 received 2 citations; then, in 2015, two research papers were published, again without citations. In 2016 three research papers were published, namely "Interaction Design in the Built Environment: Designing for the Universal User" with 2 citations, "Designed by the pupils, for the pupils: An autism-friendly school" with 7 citations, and "Autism-Friendly Architecture from the outside in and the inside out An explorative study based on autobiographies of autistic people" with 8 citations. In 2017 only one research published under the name "Toward an autism-friendly home environment" by Nagib W and Williams A received 11 citations. A single research in 2018 as, "Sensory Spaces: Sensory Learning - An experimental approach to educating future designers to design autism schools," by Love JS, published in ARCHNET-IJAR, received only 2 citations. Three research papers were published in 2019 under the title Quality of the built environment from the point of view of people with autism spectrum disorder", "The impact of color and light on children with autism in interior spaces from an architectural point of view," and "Studio teaching experiments- spatial transitioning for autism schools" begged 0, 1,1 citations respectively. During pandemic 2020, only one research was published and didn't receive citations, and in 2021 (continuing years) didn't notice any research. Therefore, only 16 ASD research papers were purely related to architectural design from 812 documents noted from 1992 to 2021, with as many as 11 citations. These number of documents and citations reveal that these research areas are not very popular amongst the researchers. Please refer to the recent growth in general ASD research ( Ozgur & Balci, 2022 ), as mentioned in the literature review.

Type of research papers

The journal articles (NP=537) were the most preferred form, which agrees with ( Rahaman et al. , 2021b ). The review found a second preferred form (NP=142), followed by proceedings papers (NP=71) and then meeting abstract (NP=17). Other documents were minor in the list, published only three papers each. On the other hand, the articles also received the highest number of total cations (24922), followed by review (TC=8916) ( Table 2 ). The research was purely based on an architectural perspective, mostly published as journal articles (13) and then as proceeding papers (3) out of 16. Please refer to ( Table 1 ) for the total number of pure architectural design research.

*NP=Number of Publication **TC=Total Number of Citations

Productive organization

It is evident that the top ten organizational productivity ranges between 25 to 42 publications ( Table 3 ). The University of Toronto is the leading organization in autism research (NP=42), followed by Vanderbilt University (NP=37), University of California, Los Angeles (NP=35), Yale University (NP=33), and Massachusetts General Hospital (NP=30). Harvard Medical School (NP=25) identified as the minor producer of research in the top ten list. Interestingly, most of the listed organization are in the USA (9 organizations), and one organization from Canada. Stanford University was the most cited organization (TC=6686) for 28 publications, followed by Yale University (TC=6059) for 33 research in autism.

Productive country

Moreover, it is found that the top eight countries produced over 50 research papers ( Table 4 ). Only two countries have over 100 articles on autism. The USA had outstanding research output in autism with 433 publications and 27124 citations, followed by the UK (118 publications, 7569 citations), Canada (79 publications, 6816 citations), China (72 publications, 3339 citations), and France (60 publications, 3304 citations). This result parallels the previous scientometric analyses on ASD research, which says that the USA is highly active in producing ASD literature.

The analyses reveal that half of the research in autism contributed by the USA that received the highest number of citations (TC=27124) for 433 publications, followed by the UK with 7569 citations with 118 publications, and Canada with 6816 citations and 79 publications. Australia managed minimum citation (TC=2048) in the list with 46 publications.

The relevant sources in ASD

All the top ten sources have more than 12 publications; coincidentally, six sources ( American Journal of Human Genetics, American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B-Neuropsychiatric Genetics, Biological Psychiatry, Molecular Autism, Molecular Psychiatry, Neuron ) produced 12 publications each. Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group) was considered the most relevant source with 14 publications and 203 citations, followed by Nature Neuroscience (Nature Publishing Group) with 14 publications and 1986 citations and Human Molecular Genetics and Plos One with 13 publications each and 1015 and 371 citations, respectively. The analysis reveals that most of the sources belongs to the Q1 category (eight sources), and two in Q2 category. The highest impact factor journal in the list was Nature Neuroscience (JIF=20.07), followed by Neuron (JIF=14.41) and Molecular Psychiatry (JIF=12.38) ( Table 5 ). These results also revealed the gap in the development of the ASD research literature in terms of architectural design perspective. The top ten journals are again from genetic, molecular biology, and biological psychiatry; this top ten listing lags the source in the areas of architecture or architectural design. Hence, the authors have further explored the sources in which the 16 research papers purely on architectural design have been published. They found very few but popular sources in the field, namely, Archnet-IJAR International Journal of Architectural Research, International Journal of Arts and Technology, Housing Studies, Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, Advances in Human Factors, Sustainable Urban Planning, and Infrastructure.

*NP=Number of Publication **TC=Total Number of Citations ***JIF=Journal impact factor ****Q=Quartile

Prolific authors

This analysis reveals that the article range of authors varied between nine and 12. Five authors (Devlin B, Geschwind DH, Scherer SW, State MW, and Wang Y) emerged as the most prolific authors with 13 publications each, 4383, 3409, 3338, 3662, and 333 citations, respectively. Buxbaum JD (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai) found as the second highest prolific author with 13 publications and 2970 citations, followed by Bourgeron T, Eichler EE, and Li Y with 11 publications and 2142, 1944, and 568 citations, respectively. Casanova MF (University of South Carolina School of Medicine) noted as the least contributed authors in the top ten list with nine publications and 361 citations. Devlin B (Mount Sinai School of Medicine) was the most cited author with 4383 citations for 13 publications, followed by Geschwind DH with 3409 citations for 13 publications, and Wang Y (Carnegie Mellon University) managed only 333 citations for 13 publications. The table also shows that the most prolific authors belong from the USA (7 authors), followed by Canada, France, and China. ( Table 6 ). It is also revealed that most of the authors belong to medicine and psychology; the authors from the field of architecture are missing from the top 10 list. There are 24 authors found contributing to ASD research in the field of architectural design, amongst them Tufvesson C; Tufvesson J, and Nagib W; Williams A contributing one paper and begged 11 citations, followed by Kinnaer M; Baumers S; Heylighen A (NP=1, TC=8), Mcallister K; Sloan S (NP=1, TC=7). The other authors with one paper received two citations are Segado Vazquez F; Segado Torres A; Dalton C; and Love JS. Shareef SS; Farivarsadri G received one citation for one paper, and the other nine authors didn't receive a citation.

The pattern of authorship

The Figure 2 illustrated the pattern of authorship in autism literature. It was clear from the figure that the authorship pattern ranged from single to two hundred and forty-seven. The analysis reveals that collaborative research is more prominent among the research of autism over the study period. The top six authorship patterns produced over 50 publications in the field. Three authorship patterns (NP=123) contributed a maximum article in autism, followed by two authorship (NP=120), four authorship (NP=93), five authorship (NP=79), single authorship (NP=61), and six authorship (NP=56). The authorship of 27, 36, 38, 39, 40, 42, 46, 56, 58, 65, 67, 73, 86, 88, 118, 125, 146, and 247 each contributed only single publications in autism. The results also showed that two authorship patterns received the highest number of citations (TC=4775), followed by five authorship (TC=3296) and Three authorship (TC=3071). Rahaman conducted a similar type of authorship pattern analysis ( Rahaman et al. , 2021a ).

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Mapping co-occurrence of all keywords (author and indexed)

Figure 3 shows analysis of all keywords used in autism research from 1992–to 2021. The results showed that 3848 keywords appeared in autism research. To map the co-occurrence of all the keywords, minimum of 15 occurrences of keywords were considered for analysis. Out of 3848 keywords, only 79 keywords met the thresholds, and all 79 selected keywords are clustered in Figure 3 with 1737 links and total link strength (5557). The size of the ball indicates a strong network of keywords, with each color representing a distinct cluster.

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Cluster 1 comprises 31 keywords (abnormalities, activation, adolescents, adults, architecture Asperger-syndrome, autism, autism spectrum disorder, autism spectrum disorders, behavior, brain, childhood, children, classification, connectivity, cortex, diagnostic interview, fMRI, functional connectivity, high-functioning autism, human cerebral-cortex, meta-analysis, networks, organization, patterns, pervasive developmental disorders, sleep, spectrum disorder, spectrum disorders, white-matter, and young-children).

Cluster 2 has 22 keywords (association, bipolar disorder, copy number variation, disorder, genes, genetic architecture, genetics, genome-wide association, heritability, identification, individuals, linkage, mutations, phenotype, prevalence, psychiatric-disorders, reveals, risk, schizophrenia, spectrum, susceptibility, and variants).

Cluster 3 includes 19 keywords (brain-development, copy number variants, copy-number variation, de-novo mutations, disease, disorders, epilepsy, evolution, expression, gene, intellectual disability, mechanisms, mental-retardation, network, neurodevelopmental disorders, neurons, prefrontal cortex, protein, and structural variation).

Cluster 4 has seven keywords (fragile x syndrome, fragile-x-syndrome, gene-expression, mental-retardation protein, mouse model, rett-syndrome, and synaptic plasticity).

The top ten keywords were autism (frequency=257), architecture (165), autism spectrum disorder (127), children (123), schizophrenia (92), autism spectrum disorders (91), de-novo mutations (86), Risk (73), brain (59) and expression (freq.=55) had weighty number of occurrence with strong total link strength.

Each cluster is based on the theme, which shows the various aspect of the subject and its development. The themes special for architecture or design or built environment are missing to track the development of the subject.

The authors have found a few trendy keywords are missing here, such as acoustics, acoustical control, spatial sequencing, escape spaces, compartmentalization, natural light, fluorescent light, snoezelen, sensory environment, multisensory, neutral sensory, hypersensitive, hyposensitive, sensory trigger, sensory zoning, stimulus level, overstimulating, transition, transition spaces, safety, audio, auditory, auditory processing, distraction, interactive, tactile, tactile sense, altered senses.

Thematic map by title

Figure 4 shows four alternative typologies of themes that can be visualized using a thematic map. The thematic parameter is considered the title selected for the field, the minimum number of words selected is 80, and Unigram is selected for the graph.

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Object name is f1000research-10-135006-g0003.jpg

The basic theme: Autism spectrum which represented by cluster 1 (autism, spectrum, disorder, children, brain, network, functional, connectivity, based, analysis, sleep, neural, developmental, learning, networks, structural, reveals, system, approach, design, matter, review, robot, resting, control, developing and white).

The motor theme: architecture human in cluster 2 (architecture, human, gene, syndrome, social, development, cortical, protein, autistic, model, synaptic, fragile, neuronal, cognitive, ASD, altered, behavior, mental, mice, role, cortex, expression, function, visual, cell, mouse, processing, and activity.

Niche theme: genetic disorder placed in cluster 3 (disorders, genetic, variants, risk, schizophrenia, neurodevelopmental, genes, psychiatric, rare, common, de, genetics, novo, genomic, related, mutations, copy, disease, mechanisms, and sequencing).

Emerging or declining theme: study genome represented by cluster 4 (study, genome, association, wide and evidence).

Most cited research papers in autism

The top ten papers ( Table 7 ) have more than 300 citations, published between 2007 and2015. "Large-scale brain networks and psychopathology: a unifying triple network model" (2011) by Menon V, published in Trends Cogn Sci was the topmost cited paper (1425 citations) ( Menon, 2011 ), followed by "Synaptic, transcriptional and chromatin genes disrupted in autism" (2014) by De Rubeis S, appeared in " Nature " (1220 citations) ( De Rubeis et al. , 2014 ), "The contribution of de novo coding mutations to autism spectrum disorder" (2014) by Iossifov I, published in Nature (1118 citations) ( Iossifov et al. , 2014 ), "Mapping autism risk loci using genetic linkage and chromosomal rearrangements" (2007) by Szatmari (999 citations) ( Szatmari et al. , 2007 ). "Dendritic spine pathology in neuropsychiatric disorders" (2011) by Penzes (838 citations) ( Penzes et al. , 2011 ), and "A genome-wide scan for common alleles affecting risk for autism" was the least cited paper among the top ten (393 citations) ( Anney et al. , 2010 ). It was noticeable that half of the top ten cited papers were published by Nature Publishing Group. The article entitled "Synaptic, transcriptional and chromatin genes disrupted in autism" ( De Rubeis et al. , 2014 ) has the highest total citations per year (152.50).

*N/TC=Normalized total citation

The papers that are well received in architecture or architectural design are not listed here due to a lack of citations than the papers in the other fields; hence, the ASD research in the given fields is less prevalent. The most cited papers in the architectural field are: ' The building process as a tool towards an all-inclusive school. A Swedish example focusing on children with defined concentration difficulties such as ADHD, Autism, and Down's Syndrome (2009) and 'Toward an Autism-friendly home environment' (2017) received 11 citations each. ' Autism-friendly architecture from the outside in and the inside out: An explorative study based on autobiographies of Autistic people' (2016) received eight citations, and 'Designed by the pupils, for the pupils: An Autism-friendly school' (2016) got seven citations.

Most Cited references in autism research

Table 8 explained the most top ten cited references in autism research. It is clear from the table that all listed references received more than 50 citations. Article entitled "Insights into Autism Spectrum Disorder Genomic Architecture and Biology from 71 Risk Loci" (2015) by Sanders SJ, appeared in 'Neuron' was the most cited (TC=92) reference in autism research ( Sanders et al. , 2015 ), followed by an article named 'Synaptic, transcriptional and chromatin genes disrupted in autism (2014) by De Rubeis S with 91 citations ( De Rubeis et al. , 2014 ), 'and 'The contribution of de novo coding mutations to autism spectrum disorder' (2014) by Lossifov I with 91 citations and appeared in the journal Nature ( Iossifov et al. , 2014 ). The cited references 'De novo gene disruptions in children on the autistic spectrum (2012) by Iossifov I published in 'NEURON' was the most diminutive receiver of citation with 61 TC ( Iossifov et al. , 2012 ). However, the top ten listed references belong to the biotechnology, genetic architecture, and medicinal aspects; the gap identified here is the lack of ASD study on architectural in terms of designer perspective.

Highly influential funding agencies

There are only four funding agencies from the top 10 list which funded more than 100 research papers ( Table 9 ). National Institutes of Health renowned as leading funding agency (313 publications, 23087 citations), followed by the United States Department of Human Health Services (313 publications, 22759 citations), the National Institute of Mental Health (182 publications, 16164 citations), European Commission (111 publications, 8476 citations), and National Institute of Child Health Human Development (66 publications, 7927 citations). The Wellcome Trust appeared as the least influential funding agency among the top ten (36 publications, 3959 citations). The USA was dominant in the top ten list (six funding agencies), followed by the UK (three funding agencies) and one agency from the EU.

It is to be noted that all funding agencies belong to the health and medicine except one that is the 'UK Research Innovation,' which is a good sign for the researcher belonging to the field of innovation, architecture, design, and creativity to apply for a funded research/projects.

Country collaboration in autism

The most dominant country collaborations were the USA and United Kingdom (51 publications), followed by the USA and Canada (43 publications), the USA and China (38 publications), the USA and Italy (26 publications), and the USA and the Netherlands (26 publications). The USA with Sweden collaboration (19 publications) was listed at the bottom of the top ten list. It was interesting to show that the USA collaborated with nine countries (the UK, Canada, China, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Australia, and Sweden). The UK followed this with two countries (the USA and Canada). ( Figure 5 ).

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This bibliometric study has been proposed to cover the knowledge gap between the amount of literature that has been published on autism in medical and psychological journals over the years and the published research with the architectural and design approach. However, no other bibliometric analysis has been done from 1992 to 2021 that comprehensively evaluates and summarizes the literature, progress, and future directions of this key sub-area of ASD research. The results are eye-opening since only 16 out of 812 papers retrieved are purely relevant to the architectural and designers' perspective. The other papers are medicine, psychology, biotechnology, ICT, computer software design, etc.

The keywords and thematic analyses identified the huge missing gap since all are too generic, therefore, the authors have identified a few missing keywords, which leads them to suggest that more ASD research needs to be done in terms of built environment characteristics, negative sensory experiences, and conducive design features.

The literature review indicated that the performance prediction model (PPM) needs more research since, for over 2 decades, only 2 projects (cited in literature review) focused on describing the transactions between the users and their physical environment through the behavior. It also suggested that designers need to work more in defining codes and guideline to build autism-friendly environment to support people with ASD. The top ten analyses of the country, institution and funding agencies show that the USA is highly active in producing ASD research. Stanford University is noted as the most cited organization might be due to its own program for Autism research, extending a good platform for the researchers in this field. The 'UK Research Innovation' is the only funding agency to provide opportunities to researchers in design and innovation.This research also leads researchers to discover the most influential publications, authors, and journals in this field.

Here are a few noteworthy emerging trends (the missing gap in this study) in ASD research where researchers in the field of architectural design and built environment can dwell in are; acoustical control, spatial sequencing, escape spaces, compartmentalization, snoezelen, sensory environment, sensory zoning, overstimulation, transition spaces, safety, auditory processing, tactile sense, altered senses .

Data availability

[version 2; peer review: 2 approved]

Funding Statement

The author(s) declared that no grants were involved in supporting this work.

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Reviewer response for version 2

Peter kokol.

1 Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia

Authors answered to my comments, and I would like to approve the article.

Is the work clearly and accurately presented and does it cite the current literature?

If applicable, is the statistical analysis and its interpretation appropriate?

Not applicable

Are all the source data underlying the results available to ensure full reproducibility?

Is the study design appropriate and is the work technically sound?

Are the conclusions drawn adequately supported by the results?

Are sufficient details of methods and analysis provided to allow replication by others?

Reviewer Expertise:

I confirm that I have read this submission and believe that I have an appropriate level of expertise to confirm that it is of an acceptable scientific standard.

Reviewer response for version 1

Hashem hussein al-attas.

1 Deanship of Library Affairs, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

The authors have collected an exclusive dataset from Web of Science using quantitative methodology. The bibliometric method to map the global research publication on autism spectrum disorder in architecture perspective, definitely contributes to the field and other researchers. It can help them decide the most productive country, journals, organization, pattern of authorship, most important author keywords, research themes, and new international collaboration. The analyses, results, and interpretation display interesting and beneficial data. Moreover, quality of the text is good. There are a few unnecessary capitalizations in the sentences, but ignorable. Overall the paper represents valuable information regarding autism spectrum disorder in architecture research.

I have enough knowledge in the field of bibliometric and scientometric studies.

The authors performed an interesting bibliometric study. They focused mainly on quantitative aspects of the research on autism-related architectural design. However, the paper should be amended in some aspects to make it more informative for readers and to make the study repeatable.

First, the introduction and the literature review should be extended with a description of bibliometrics, evidence of its successful use (and the reason why they selected bibliometrics as a knowledge synthesis method), the bibliometrics tools used should be shortly described and their use in the study stated more clearly. There are already some bibliometrics studies on autism and other disabilities already published, authors should point to them in the literature review and connect their research to already performed studies (they should also compare their results to results of similar studies in the discussion section).

  • In the results section, they should point out which bibliometric tool was used to produce them. The results should also be extended with qualitative aspects, actually, the discussion is mostly missing. What is the meaning of the results, who can use them, and for what purpose. In the conclusion, authors mention that research gaps, research directions could be derived from their results, but the readers could benefit much more if the authors themselves will reveal hot topics, gaps, directions, etc. Authors should describe revealed clusters from keywords analysis in more detail. They should use thematic or content analysis to name and describe clusters, point to relevant literature, etc.

Computer science, bibliometrics, machine learning, health informatics

I confirm that I have read this submission and believe that I have an appropriate level of expertise to state that I do not consider it to be of an acceptable scientific standard, for reasons outlined above.

Deema Al-Saleh

Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University , Saudi Arabia

  • Comment of reviewer: The authors performed an interesting bibliometric study. They focused mainly on quantitative aspects of the research on autism-related architectural design. However, the paper should be amended in some aspects to make it more informative for readers and to make the study repeatable.

Authors Response : Done, the authors have worked more on the dataset and amended the annual literature growth table 1 to compare the literature growth in general with literature growth from the architectural and designers' perspective.

  • Comment of reviewer: First, the introduction and the literature review should be extended with a description of bibliometrics, evidence of its successful use (and the reason why they selected bibliometrics as a knowledge synthesis method), the bibliometrics tools used should be shortly described and their use in the study stated more clearly. There are already some bibliometrics studies on autism and other disabilities already published, authors should point to them in the literature review and connect their research to already performed studies (they should also compare their results to results of similar studies in the discussion section).

Authors Response : Done, the introduction and the literature review have been extended and previous bibliometric studies included and compared the results.

Authors Response : Done, all the issues raised have been addressed.

autism school case study architecture

Autism Center

Project Description: The Center for Autism is an integrated and multidisciplinary clinical, training program dedicated to treating individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The main focus of the project is to help the autistic children between 5-10 ages achieve independence and facilitate their interactions with external environment. Concept: The Project concept relied on the main design principles for the Autism Spectrum. It depends on using looping programming scheme to connect project different zones (Blocks) with a main internal shared space, through a “one-way” circulation scheme that builds on the special needs user’s affinity to routine employed throughout this building.

Name: Autism Center Architect: Saja Abdulmohsen Bai Location: Jeddah, KSA Site Area: 10,200 m2 The Proposed Program: - Administration Building - Educational (Classes,Workshops, Library) - Living Center (Accommodation & Nursing Rooms) Total GFA: 5,296 m2

Student: Saja Abdulmohsen Bai Supervisor: Dr. Mohammed fekry, Capstone Project (Effat University)

autism school case study architecture

autism school case study architecture

  • Architecture
  • Interior Design
  • Master Planning + Urban Design
  • Engineering
  • Resiliency + Sustainable Design
  • National Accounts
  • Facility Information Solutions
  • Workplace Strategy
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Bangalore, India
  • Dallas  /  Ft. Worth, TX
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Rochester, MN
  • Seattle, WA

Autism-aware design

FirstPlace, Night Exterior Rendering

By Thomas Denhardt, ArchitectureNow Jul 2017

Autism Spectrum Disorder (or ASD) is a misunderstood condition that affects an estimated 1 in 66 people, approximately 65,000 New Zealanders, yet it is absent in our accessibility codes. So how can architects and designers significantly improve the lives of those who are diagnosed with ASD? Thomas Denhardt talks with experts in the field.

In 1973, Louis Kahn was engaged to design Four Freedoms Park, a memorial that commemorates President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s life and his seminal Four Freedoms speech. Ironically, the sunken terrace incorporated into the design inhibited Roosevelt from the freedom to enjoy the memorial, since it is not wheelchair accessible. In Kahn’s defence, this was before the advent of the American Disabilities Act 1990. Some would say ignorance is bliss.

Diagram of Core Symptoms of ASD

Since those times, accessibility has been amalgamated into new public proposals by architects, with the local Building Act stipulating NZS 4121 Access and Mobility – Buildings and Associated Facilities as a suitable standard. This egalitarian movement, driven by legislation, has given those with a disability an equal opportunity to participate and conduct their business independently within our built environment.

But what can architects do to contribute to the physical independence and inclusion of those who live with ASD? Ambiguous to many, misinterpreted by some and absent in accessibility codes, architects and designers can, through design, play a remarkably positive, influential hand in the lives of those who live with ASD. Exploring suitable design guidelines and examining a prime architectural case study that is considerate of ASD occupants will help to answer this question, with the potential of expanding further what is meant by architecture that is accessible for all. But firstly – what exactly is ASD?

Dr Javier Virués-Ortega , a New Zealand-registered clinical psychologist and director of Applied Behavioural Therapy at the University of Auckland, defines ASD. He describes classic symptoms that differ from those of people who are neurotypical (without ASD), and suggests where architecture can make a considerable difference. In its purest form, ASD is “a collection of dimensions that are highly variable across individuals,” states Virués-Ortega. These dimensions can be characterised as excesses and deficits.

Using human behaviour as an example, “a behavioural excess is something that a person with ASD is doing more often than a person without the diagnosis,” he adds, such as having a close affinity to numbers or arranging items in a particular order. On the other hand, “a behavioural deficit is something that the person is doing less often than expected,” such as avoiding social interactions and physical contact with others.

Briefly, the classic symptoms of those with ASD can be clustered around three constituents: impaired social interaction, impaired communication and restricted behaviour. Impaired social interaction is “a lack of social referencing, where the ability to interpret gestural cues provided by a peer or caregiver is not fully developed,” explains Virués-Ortega. Impaired communication can be quite diverse, with individuals of low-functioning autism often failing to develop spoken language whereas others display a limited verbal repertoire comprised of non-functional repetitive words or phrases (echolalia).

Lastly, and most substantially to architects, is the classic symptom of restricted behaviour. This is where individuals exhibit repetitive, stereotypic or ritualistic patterns of behaviour, which can be very diverse and classified as highly idiosyncratic. For example, a middle-aged man may be a serial organiser and insist on having things in a certain way, including being highly susceptible to outside noises.

Sensory processing problems – such as auditory issues established in the example above (including tactile, olfactory and visual dysfunction), agoraphobia and difficulty transitioning through spaces or changing routines – are some of the key challenges faced by individuals with ASD who have restricted behaviour.

These challenges are the primary focus for architects and designers to consider when designing private and public environments, such as multi-storeyed city apartments and local shopping malls. “This is the space in which design and architecture can make a significant difference,” Virués-Ortega suggests, since the way we design our built environment can heighten or lessen these challenges for ASD individuals, thus heightening or lessening the likelihood of their challenging behaviours.

This ‘significant difference’ that architectural design can conduce for those with ASD can be perceived as a foreign concept to most practitioners – esoteric, even. Dr Magda Mostafa, a special needs design associate and architect at Progressive Architects, as well as the associate chair of the Department of Architecture at the American University in Cairo, explains her groundbreaking Autism ASPECTSS Design Index, which establishes how implementing autism-aware design can be beneficial to all.

Trademarked in 2013 and developed over a decade of research, the index is “a framework made up of seven criteria, which form the acronym ASPECTSS: acoustics, spatial sequencing, escape space, compartmentalisation, transition space, sensory zoning and safety,” Dr Mostafa states. This index is non-prescriptive, unlike other accessibility codes, providing a spectrum of solutions that are applicable and helpful to all users on the spectrum. Being aware of the sensory input you are creating through your design decisions is strongly advocated in the ASPECTSS index, thus making the designer or architect mindful of the impact that input will have on the end users with ASD.

When applying ASPECTSS, one of the core facilitative concepts must be allowing for flexibility, growth and response to the development of skill and adaptation of its users, since individuals can have a diversity of needs, profiles and challenges. With this in mind, Dr Mostafa explains in more detail two of the seven criteria – acoustics and escape space.

Acoustics or auditory sensitivities are an acute challenge for many autistic individuals. However, implementing complete sound-proofing and full acoustical control is considered “counter-productive for the school or at home,” Dr Mostafa explains. This is due to the risk of the individual’s behaviour becoming accustomed to the environment, “only to have the individual unable to generalise that skill outside of this perfect space”. It is called ‘the greenhouse effect’ and is not sustainable in achieving the long-term objective of inclusion and independence. What is more effective in this regard is the implementation of acoustical management, where different levels of control provide for different levels of sensitivities for the users on the spectrum.

For instance, when Dr Mostafa consults (for schools, in particular), she suggests the “use of graduated acoustical control, where more controlled acoustics are applied to ‘low stimulus’ zones – such as libraries, and speech and language therapy rooms – especially for more sensitive users such as minors, who have not yet developed sensory management and integration skills.” This methodology allows children to develop skill and then graduate towards less acoustical control, as acoustic sensitivities becomes less obtrusive, especially with age.

On the other hand, escape space, unlike acoustics, is a principle that is readily applicable universally and capable of being implemented to different degrees in its own spectrum of manifestations. “These can range from a visually, acoustically and spatially separate space, like a small quiet room or a quiet bench under a tree in the garden of a school, to a simple quiet chair in a nook of a break room at an office, or a reading carrel in a library at a school,” Dr Mostafa says.

These escape spaces have the ability in creating an opportunity to remove oneself from experiences that are distracting and over-stimulating, or whenever a need to ‘re-adjust’, decompress and regain self-control arises. Dr Mostafa applied this principle recently for a group in the United States, where “one of the first recommendations I shared with them – particularly for those with existing premises and limited means to retrofit – was to provide the means for an escape space,” since it does not encumber the design or complicate the process while achieving the aim of inclusivity for those with ASD.

Furthermore, employing autism-aware design in architecture goes beyond the call of duty for those with ASD by being beneficial to those who are neurotypicals also. This is supported through Dr Mostafa’s research, where, in one case study, teachers as well as students gained indirectly from an improved acoustical environment. This is because “students focused better in a less stimulating environment, thus performing better academically, so teachers performed their jobs better, and so on, in a cycle of improvement”.

The same result was found for escape spaces, where everyone occasionally needs a moment of escape or a ‘sensory break’ from clockwork, with the provision of space to do so allowing for this management. From this, Dr Mostafa believes autism-aware design is helpful to the entire spectrum of human perception “provided flexibility is taken into consideration”.


FirstPlace, Night Exterior Rendering

This concept of helpfulness that promotes physical independence is a ringing theme in the autism design world, since ASD individuals (specifically adults) transitioning from their secure family homes into greater society can be quite a challenging, even daunting, prospect.

Mike Duffy, associate and project design architect for RSP Architects in the US, discussed his benchmark proposal for clients, ‘First Place AZ’, which aids this transitioning process and the development of independence through architectural design, shedding light on lessons that were learnt in the process. First Place AZ is an independent not-for-profit organisation for individuals with autism and other neuro-diversities, which engaged RSP Architects to develop their exciting novel vision to fulfil the needs of those with ASD. Situated in Phoenix, the proposal comprises three major components:

  • First Place Apartments – 56 studio, one, two and four-bedroomed units for lease, with independent living services and amenities;
  • First Place Transition Academy operated by the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), where 32 students, who are transitioning to more independent living, will experience paid internships and engage in volunteer activities each year, exposing them to different types of jobs while building their skills and resumés (with 16 residing in four four-bedroomed suites at First Place in year one of the two-year programme, and 16 living off-campus in year two);
  • The First Place Leadership Institute is focused on continued education and training of support service providers, professionals and physicians, including a hub for research and public policy advancements.

The First Place Apartments are housed from the ground floor through to level four, while the First Place Leadership Institute and Transition Academy is organised around a central courtyard on the ground floor that provides security and facilitates various functions, including a community garden and pool amenities.

These components are the building blocks for the First Place mission, yet it is the intermittent spaces that are considered the glue that holds the bigger pieces together. Duffy explains this further, making reference to Kintsugi: “Kintsugi is the Japanese art of ‘golden repair’, where broken pieces of pottery are mended using resins made from precious metals, such as gold or silver. That which holds it together becomes more important, more special than the pieces it is holding together, with the circulation spaces at First Place Phoenix being treated as the golden resin.

This approach to design unifies the building programme, while creating a venue for social connections and networks that will form the support systems that make independence possible; this is considered vital to a successful transition to independent living. “Spontaneous conversations after classes, interaction with fellow neighbours, even individuals getting together to learn new culinary skills or enjoy a movie” are the types of unpredictable behaviour fostered in these circulation spaces, explains Duffy. Visible externally via yellow/gold metal panels, their symbolic importance is highlighted.

Internally, a plethora of measures are applied to achieve a hospitable environment that is considerate towards ASD individuals. “A refined and repeated material palette is strategically placed throughout to increase familiarity with spaces, with subtly coloured visual paths and signage employed to assist individuals in transitioning through spaces,” Duffy says. Designers in this regard are recommended to specify more muted colours like light blues, greens, tans, greys, even lavender, which promote calmness, rather than bright punchy colours that can overwhelm and exacerbate hypersensitivities.

Increased durability in materials is another measure applied throughout, including “acoustic baffles and inset entries for each apartment, which limits noise transfer”. Diffused LED lighting, which is less harsh, and ample natural lighting with strategically placed windows and doors provide comfort and illumination throughout the design, with operable windows providing the auxiliary benefit of controlled access to fresh air and passive ventilation.

In terms of safety and security, “a single point of entry with 24-hour ‘concierge’ services is provided,” Duffy says, with individuals having different locking options available to apartments to promote greater independence. Lastly, natural materials that are chemical free or have low toxicity levels (no VOCs) were also considered when specifying paints, sealants, plastics, adhesives and carpets.

Engaging with First Place AZ and their mission to support those with ASD has allowed RSP Architects to reach new meanings in the work they do, finding that “designing for those with ASD is not that different from designing for those without ASD”, but rather analogous. Every sensitivity on the autism spectrum has not been directly addressed Duffy confirmed, but through collective “discussions, dialogues and design charrettes, we’ve decided as a team what would be best to implement for First Place Phoenix given its mission”.

This process also influenced their response in implementing a more “neurotypical approach to design measures throughout”, knowing that someone’s next place may not have the same sensory sensitive design and approach. Individuals with ASD will “learn, grow, thrive and succeed” at First Place AZ, which has led to the autism community becoming beneficiaries of new knowledge, creativity and, most profoundly, as illustrated here, greater future independence.

It is commonly accepted today that, through architecture, architects and designers have a professional responsibility to envision and portray building design that is considerate of its users and inclusive of our diverse society. This responsibility includes ASD individuals. Characterised as excesses and deficits, ASD can be aggravated or lessened through our planning and design decisions, with numerous instruments available that work with the challenges of ASD individuals, not against them.

When researched and considered carefully, autism-aware design has the ability to transform architecture into a public message that redefines what accessible design means, which is demonstrated by Dr Magda Mostafa Autism ASPECTSS™ Design Index and First Place AZ’s audacious objective of physical independence.

We do not expect to live and work in leaky or unhealthy buildings, so we should not expect ASD individuals to live and work in buildings that hinder their independence or do not provide the capacity for them to fulfil their everyday needs. Architects and designers do not need to train nor recruit autism followers who paint the city in a coat of autism-alertness. Instead, they simply need to know what autism-aware design is and, in doing so, they will be consciously designing with everyone in mind.

So, rather than repeat history in the name of Louis Kahn, next time, when the project requires accessible means, ask yourself the question: where is the autism-aware design?


Rendering of a Karen Goedeke Floor Plan

Last year, Karen Goedeke , a master’s student at the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture & Planning, completed her thesis research on the architecture of learning environments for children with ASD. Architecture New Zealand interviewed Goedeke about her investigations.

What made you interested in design for children with ASD? My interest in designing for ASD came from my passion for health and a growing awareness about environmental toxicity. With an undeniable relationship between the human body and its environment, society is getting sicker and our built environment is largely to blame. ASD gives clear symptoms that I could relay this knowledge back to, finding solutions to ease the overload of a surrounding building. My thesis presents a journey towards a symbiotic relationship between behaviour, environment and architecture, creating a school that stimulates those fleeting moments of calm where children can communicate, respond, learn and interact, and have them last a little bit longer.

Why is it important for architects to understand ASD? On the cusp of a demographic boom, it’s important for architects to truly understand the experience of those who are most sensitive to their surroundings. Rising levels of autism in children brings social anxiety, isolation and difficulty integrating into normal schooling situations. The built environment can be overwhelming, alienating and difficult to negotiate. The sooner architects understand and implement a change in the spaces around us, the best chance we have to protect developing and vulnerable immune systems, shaping future generations.

How did you conduct your research? I took a very hands-on approach in attending training that could further extend my own future practical application. Having spent time with staff and students at Wilson School in Auckland, I trained in geopathic stress testing (dowsing), assessment and shielding of electromagnetic radiation, and the fundamentals of building biology. The design has been developed by combining architectural application with involved research into the medical field, along with an understanding of ancient wisdom and applying this knowledge to a modern-day epidemic.

What are some of the observations you made? The most valuable observation I took away from this was not only how architecture can impact those with hypersensitivity but how basic understanding of natural radiation, man-made radiation and the impact of material specification can reduce the load on our already overloaded immune systems, drastically impacting the health of anyone.

What are some of the key outcomes? The most important thing we can do to design for autism and improve health is a combination of awareness, inclusion and exclusion. – Step one is to remove the cause. Electromagnetic radiation, geopathic stress and material toxicity make up an environmental load that impacts the body, behaviour and response to an environment. –

Step two is to provide an uplifting community to support and nurture spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. More than just providing sensory stimulation through sensory rooms and gardens, it’s about addressing the cellular level complications of autism to understand an environment and to reduce the symptoms.

Through sustainability and selective material choice, in line with building biology, implementing a ‘back-to-basics’ approach to reduce the chemical load emitted by materials. My project was broken into eight spaces that each worked to minimise or nurture one or more symptom of autism.

What’s the next step on your quest? I’ve only just begun! Since completing my thesis, I’ve continued to dowse houses of people with chronic illness in addition to those wanting to take preventative measures for the health of their families. Looking to the future, the principles that have been established are ones that will be carried through my architecture career, where the health of those occupying a space is my priority.


autism school case study architecture

First Place

autism school case study architecture

Minnesota Autism Center High School

autism school case study architecture

Joe Tyndall

autism school case study architecture

First high school for autistic students

Phoenix mayor honors first place phoenix..

autism school case study architecture

Project Future: Unveiled

Inside the reimagining of project future, autism-friendly apartments open in phoenix.

autism school case study architecture

autism school case study architecture

Architecture for Autism: Autism ASPECTSS™ in School Design

IJAR Volume 8, Issue 1 (complete publication).


Aspectss* | art icles | blogs | 360s.

European Cultural Centre

A Case for Sensory Decolonisation: Autistic Escape 360

Stuart Neilson

Sensory Escape - A Walkthrough

Stuart Neilson

Identifying Landscapes of Sensory Escape

Feminist Spatial Practices, Part 1

Designkriterier til arkitektur, der rummer autisme - Design criteria for architecture that accommodates autism


When We Design for Autism, We Design for Everyone, a conversation captured in Metropolis Magazine.


Design for Inclusivity at the UIA World Congress of Architects 2023, an article related to the recent ASPECTSS work with the UIA in Copenhagen around a global conversation connecting designing for inclusivity with the UN 17 SDGs.


Magda Mostafa Honored With Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Award, an article on AUC News about Magda Mostafa being honored with a Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Award from the International Union of Architects (UIA) in 2023 for her "Autism Friendly University Design Guide."


Magda Mostafa: Pioneer in Autism Design, an Interview with the author of ASPECTSS conceived through ArchDaily.

Cities People Love

Autism friendly design – an interview with Magda Mostafa, an article looking at the application of ASPECTSS work on the city scale.


The impact of ASPECTSS-based design intervention in autism school design: a case study, an article published in the International Journal of Architectural Research.


The Autism Friendly University Design Guide

Initiated by Dublin City University's Autism Friendly University initiative, this guide is founded on a basic foundational understanding that all students in higher education campuses have the equal right to a built environment.

Design for Inclusivity, Proceedings of the UIA World Congress of Architects Copenhagen 2023

A book published by Springer.

Autism Design and Architecture For All: Architecture for a Differently Abled World

A special issue of IQD on Architecture for Al co-edited by the author of ASPECTSS, Magda Mostafa.


autism school case study architecture

Global Design Thinking Conference 2021 | The ASPECTS of autism friendly design by Magda Mostafa | HPI, a talk about ASPECTSS of autism friendly design, the autism centered approach as part of the virtual Global Design Thinking Conference 2021 “Policy Innovation Lab: From Local to Global”, which was hosted online by the Global Design Thinking Alliance (GDTA) and the HPI School of Design Thinking on September 2nd, 2021.

autism school case study architecture

Autismus Forum in Zurich: Interview with Magda Mostafa, an interview during the 16. Autismus Forum in Zürich.

autism school case study architecture

The ASPECTSS™ of Architecture for Autism | Magda Mostafa | TEDxCairo, a talk given at a TEDx event.

autism school case study architecture

Design Thinking and ASD with Magda Mostafa, a Talk Show recorded live in June 2022 on "SPECTRUM SPACE - The Architecture For Autism.”

autism school case study architecture

Shaping the City Chicago: Architecture for the People, a Forum for Sustainable Cities and Communities’ is a forum organized by the European Cultural Centre (ECC) that hosted a special edition in Chicago in collaboration with the Chicago Architecture Biennial. It followed the success of two Venetian editions and hence launched the first edition in Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center.

autism school case study architecture

"Autistic Imaginaries of Architectural Space: the World through the Lens of Autism". The message of this collective piece is by viewing the world through the autistic lens. The collection is curated from a series of encounters between the ASPECTSS® Design Index and autistic individuals from all over the world. The work was displayed at Palazzo Bembo, Venice, Italy from May 22nd- November 21st, 2021.

autism school case study architecture

Autism Neurodiversity and the Built Environment: a Case for Sensory Decolonisation, a talk, Autism Neurodiversity and the Built Environment: a Case for Sensory Decolonisation brought by iMIND Center of Excellence as a part of a day of reflection on the lens of inclusion in the city.

autism school case study architecture

Neurodiversity in Planning - Autism Friendly Environments.


99% Invisible - Autism Pleasantville

Autism Friendly Architectural Design: A Discussion with Dr. Magda Mostafa, a podcast episode on Uniquely Human- a podcast hosted by clinical psychologist Barry Prizant and sound engineer Dave Finch.

autism school case study architecture

The Urbanist, The Accessible City, a podcast episode with the Monocle’s Andrew Tuck looking at the application of ASPECTSS work on the city scale.

autism school case study architecture

An interview on the TV channel, eXtra news.


Mostafa, M., Baumeister, R., Thomsen, M. R., & Tamke, M. (Eds.). (2023). Design for Inclusivity: Proceedings of the UIA World Congress of Architects Copenhagen 2023. Springer Nature.

Friedlaender, E., Bauman, H., Arroyo, Q., Sanders, J., & Mostafa, M. (2023, July). Multi-Sensory Wayfinding: Lessons from the Margins Towards the Design of Equitable and Healthy Spaces. In World Congress of Architects (pp. 731-741). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Mostafa, M., Sotelo, M., Honsberger, T., Honsberger, C., Brooker Lozott, E., & Shanok, N. (2023). The impact of ASPECTSS-based design intervention in autism school design: a case study.

Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research.  Mostafa, M. (2021). The autism friendly university design guide. Dublin City University.

Mostafa, M. (2020). Architecture for autism: Built environment performance in accordance to the autism ASPECTSS design index. In Autism 360° (pp. 479-500). Academic Press.

Mostafa, M. (2018). Designing for autism: an ASPECTSS™ post-occupancy evaluation of learning environments. Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, 12(3), 308.

Mostafa, M. (2015). Architecture for autism: Built environment performance in accordance to the autism ASPECTSS design index. Design principles and practices, 8, 55.

Mostafa, M. (2014). Architecture for autism: Autism ASPECTSS™ in school design. International Journal of Architectural Research: ArchNet-IJAR, 8(1), 143-158.

Mostafa, M. (2014). Architecture for autism: application of the autism ASPECTSS™ design index to home environments. The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, 4(2), 25.

Mostafa, M. (2013). “Expanding Normal: Towards A More Inclusive Approach to Designing the Built Environment”. Open House International, 38(1), 4-6.

Mostafa, M. (2010). Housing adaptation for adults with autistic spectrum disorder. Open house international, 35(1), 37-48.

Mostafa, M. (2008). An architecture for autism: Concepts of design intervention for the autistic user. International Journal of Architectural Research, 2(1), 189-211. no longer supports Internet Explorer.

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2014, International Journal of Architectural Research Archnet Ijar

Related Papers

Journal of ASIAN behavioural studies

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autism school case study architecture

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The research in the following paper is developed in collaboration with the noprofit organization "Università per i Disturbi dello Spettro Autistico" (UDSA), active on the issue of the role of surrounding environment in the educational process of neuro-atypical young adults. Even though, wide range of population is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the literature primarily refers to childhood period of neuro-atypical individuals. The study explores how Architecture could help young adults with ASD to become more independent and discover their capabilities reducing environmental obstacles. The Autism Spectrum presents a wide range of cases and hues that does not permit the use of general guidelines for the design process, on the contrary, it requires taking into consideration the variety of attitude toward the surrounding environment. Therefore, the paper interrogates the methodological framework of Architecture to tackle the complexity of the design challenge with a trans-disciplinary approach; a variety of figures, outside architecture discipline, were involved in the research. An adaptive method has been used, based more on Greek idea of metis, the ability to take advantage of circumstances rather than using the Platonic notion of "eidos", which referred to a determined pattern, to face the multifaceted aspects of the phenomenon. 1 The study resulted in an Architectural project for The University of Autism Spectrum Disorder, in which the strategy of Gradient defines the spaces based on their intensity, activity and frequency. By considering weaknesses and insufficiency that has emerged during the research period, this paper proposes a lucid theory of the design process integrated with contradictory aspects of the spectrum.

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Lately many researchers have done in relation to the link between architecture and autism or the autism likely environments which show that architecture could be effective in the states of the children suffering from autism disorders. The education center for the autism children need special spaces for education and treatment. Surveys in many Asian countries show that most of the care centers of the children suffering from autism are created by the changing the use of the spaces like houses or are created by adding some temporary walls to the spaces in spite of that the surveys show that environment affect treatment of these children. So, it is tried in this study to concentrate accurately on the autism child and also study the designing process of the elite educational spaces in the world. Then we will try to reach a suitable algorithm special for these children. The data gathering tools for this study are questionnaire, interview and close and direct contact with the autism children and interviewing their parents and related responsible people in different environments like rehabilitation centers for the autism children dependent to the Welfare Organization. In addition using questionnaire was for recording the behavior, movements and child relations with the people around. And when the identification stage of the research audience (the Autism child) ends it is tried finally to present suitable spatial and physical ideas for designing the educational spaces and to achieve health specially creativeness.

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Built environment design can be considered as an influential factor in the quality of life of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This scoping review provides an overview of the current available literature on the relationship between people with ASD and built environment in the specific field of the design of autism-friendly spaces. The literature review allowed the identification of three main factors to be considered when designing for people with ASD—the sensory quality, the intelligibility, and the predictability of the built environment—and, for each of them, a description of the spatial requirements that have been recognized as fundamental according to the specific spatial needs of people with ASD.

IQD- issue 65

Magda Mostafa

An estimated 1.5% of the world’s population, approximately 120 million individuals, exist somewhere on the broad spectrum of autism. For far too long this spectrum, despite its diversity and nuance, was viewed as a monolithic, pathologized condition, to be cured or treated, rather than better understood or even celebrated as an identity and an alternative, but equally valid perceptual model of the world around us. This position has since shifted to a more strength based identity first position, and as the peak cohort of individuals first diagnosed when awareness was growing in the early 2000s are now reaching adulthood, self-advocacy has become an important and increasingly heard voice in the community. But architecture must listen. I believe no one has the right to exist more comfortably, safely or effectively in space than anyone else, and it is our responsibility as architects to create the built landscape that affords this comfort, safety and efficacy to everyone- the entire spectrum of the human condition. The small collection of works included here strive to present design pathways to achieving that goal, and hopefully shift that perspective to stretch our understanding of the human condition- to be more inclusive, honest and reflective of the reality of our diverse and rich humanity. #IQDMagazine

“ICAR 2015: Re[search] through architecture”, 26-27 March 2015

Andrei Pomana

Autism is regarded as the most severe psychiatric syndrome of early childhood. Because the disease cannot be fully treated, the autistic child becomes the autistic adult, its condition depending on the severity of the syndrome and mostly on the treatment process. Since any person will spend about 75% of his life as an adult, the task of autism treatment is to prepare children to gain independence and to insure integration into society. As a result, people with autism need to be prepared at the earliest age to interact with other children and integrate into the public school system, which will determine a mental development similar to normal people. [1] By doing this, autistic and non-autistic will learn similar sets of skills which will later facilitate their integration. Also, because they will get in contact with autistic children at an early age, non-autistic people will have a clearer understanding of autism and therefore be able to easily integrate them in work and social activities later in life. [2] Present design methods for autism treatment centers concentrate either on skill development (Sensory Design Theory) [3] or rigid adaptation to day-to-day circumstances (Neuro-Typical Approach) [4] without paying much attention to future autism integration. The paper focuses on analysing architectural methods that should be implemented in autism treatment institutions in order to facilitate the transition between the therapy environment and public education circumstances. The study establishes the difference between integration and assimilation of people with autism and refines present design approaches in order to achieve a more efficient integration process. Also, the study aims to improve the design methods that are presently used in treatment facilities, in order to make a better connection with post-therapy situations by introducing variation of sensory stimulation in the therapy spaces as well as interaction spaces for autistic and non-autistic peers inside autism treatment centers. [1] Frith, Uta (2003) – Autism: Explaining the Enigma 2nd edition, Oxford, (Blackwell) [2] Russo N, Foxe JJ, Brandwein AB, Altschuler T, Gomes H, Molholm S. (2010 Oct) – Multisensory processing in children with autism: high-density electrical mapping of auditory-somatosensory integration, Autism Research Journal, International Society for Autism Research [3] Mostafa, M (2014) - ARCHITECTURE FOR AUTISM: Autism ASPECTS în School Design, International Journal of Architectural Research, Volume 8 [4] Henry, Christopher N. (2011 Nov) "Designing for Autism: The ‘Neuro-Typical’ Approach", ArchDaily

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RTF | Rethinking The Future

K31 Courtyard by UN Studio: An Architectural Affair

autism school case study architecture

The residential complex at 31 Krzhizhanovskogo Street in Moscow by UN Studio has an award-winning design that attempts to make the most of the location’s best features in order to meet the problem of fostering community in a congested urban environment. Moscow is presently undergoing a surge in residential development as a result of the city’s new masterplan, which was approved in 2012 and permits residential construction on the former industrial regions. With a surface area of around 118,000 m2 and height 145 m, it stands out as a magnificent structure.

A design that blends the area’s historical legacy and fosters the development of a local community was requested by project developer Glavstroy, who in turn asked Citymakers to create and organize the worldwide competition. The K31 Courtyard plan aims to develop a model of future living that prioritizes the welfare of the inhabitants, promotes indoor-outdoor living , fosters a sense of security and home, and offers a variety of sustainable social possibilities in this quickly changing urban environment.

K31 Courtyard by UN Studio: An Architectural Affair - Sheet1

Design Principles

The city of Moscow has recently experienced the conversion of former industrial sites into residential districts following the approval of a new masterplan, and the rise in density came with issues in developing a feeling of community. This problem is addressed by the architecture, which fosters a sense of security and belonging, promotes indoor-outdoor life, and offers a variety of social activities.

A stepped pedestal that surrounds a private courtyard and two towers that face each other diagonally to provide every tenant the best view corridors and allow for more light to enter the apartments make up the design of K31 Courtyard, which combines two common residential building typologies.

The podium’s stepped terraces are intended to provide extra amenities for the neighbouring units, such as verandas, greenhouses, and orangeries, while also ensuring that the courtyard-facing apartments receive a sufficient amount of natural light. The development includes a variety of apartment types, as well as a park, a fitness centre , a kindergarten, and commercial spaces. It also has underground parking. Each tower also has a separate community space with co-working areas, sports facilities, and a clubhouse for residents on top of the podium.The apartments facing the inner courtyard are intended to receive enough sunshine thanks to the podium’s raised terraces. Due to their potential usage as extra facilities for the nearby units, these sloped terraces also lend a distinctive element to this residential building. In order to meet the needs of various inhabitants, the development also provides a variety of apartment types and layouts. While common areas and entrances are shared by everybody, the typology split is made to minimize the separation of various social groups.

In combination with the possibility to use of the outdoor terraces on the stepped podium, the design for K31 Courtyard encourages residents to enjoy outdoor living throughout the year and to create an open neighborhood in the sky and a lively new addition to the Moscow skyline.

K31 Courtyard by UN Studio: An Architectural Affair - Sheet2

Community Block

The concept of “a neighborhood” has several dimensions for K31 Courtyard. The expansion is intended to spread horizontally and link to the city, drawing inspiration from the old-style Moscow courtyard, which was peaceful and private yet open and secure. The courtyard’s playgrounds and green areas for amusement are also visibly connected to the blocks outside perimeter pedestrian paths.

autism school case study architecture

Through the use of common intermediate amenity areas, neighborhoods can also grow vertically to foster ties between residents who live next to the same stairs. At the base of each tower, there are two additional designated public areas that can hold co-working spaces, athletic facilities, and a clubhouse for residents.

By adding curated terrace units like verandas, orangeries, or greenhouses, the roof apartments on the podium in the diagonal neighborhood created by the stepping roof terraces can be made more unique.

K31 Courtyard by UN Studio: An Architectural Affair - Sheet4

Façade Design

A modular method with parametric modelling is used to create sophisticated facade diversity. We add a random arrangement of modules with windows, bay windows, French balconies, and conventional loggias into a strong grid, resulting in a greater variety of apartment types with overt indoor-outdoor variances.

We encourage the new K31 Courtyard residents to live outside all year long and build an open neighborhood in the sky that will become a new landmark for the Moscow skyline, along with the potential usage of the outdoor terraces on the tiered platform.

Façade styles:

Brick and black metal are used in the podium facade’s outside perimeter to match the nearby structures and maintain the area’s history as an old industrial area.

The podium’s two towers include loggias and panoramic windows. When viewed from the courtyard, it is particularly crucial for the towers’ light materialization and color to appear less ominous so that their volumes appear to visibly dissolve into the sky.

Similar to the lightness of the tower volumes, the courtyard’s interior facade uses natural wood to create a cozy and welcoming ambiance for the occupants while forging a strong link to the lush, tree-lined courtyard.

autism school case study architecture


  • K31 Courtyard

Moscow, Russia, 2021

  • UNStudio Designs Community-Oriented Residential Development in Moscow Written by Andreea Cutieru November 16, 2021

K31 Courtyard by UN Studio: An Architectural Affair - Sheet1

An Architect/Designer who stands utmost to facilitate success and break the stereotypes that have been followed for a very long time in architecture. He believes every design must be conceived to add charm and enhance the surrounding's innate beauty with energy and resource efficiency as key driving factors.

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May 14, 2024

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Study explores what motivates preschoolers to prepare for the future

by Julia Weiler, Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum

art kids

Adults find it particularly easy to prepare for the future when they imagine how they will feel. Researchers at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, have investigated whether this is also the case with preschoolers.

The researchers conducted the study as part of the Research Training Group (DFG-Graduiertenkolleg) "Situated Cognition" at the intersection of philosophy and psychology. They described their findings in the journal Emotion .

Rehearsing for a school play, getting a present for a friend's birthday and packing a book for a long car journey: Their everyday lives are full of events that children need to prepare for.

"However, preschool children rarely manage to do this without the support of adults," says Dr. Babett Voigt, who led the study together with Felix Schreiber. "Even when preschool children are asked to imagine an upcoming event, their response will often be guided by their current mood. Surprisingly, it was not yet known why this is the case."

In the online study , the children visited two virtual rooms. In the first room, they were introduced to three games. They also learned that they would return to this room later, that there would be a test in one of the games and that they could win stickers.

In the second room, some of the children were asked to imagine how good it would feel to win lots of stickers, while others were asked to imagine how bad it would feel to win just a few stickers. The third group was reminded only of the fact that the test would take place.

The researchers then presented the children with the same three games as in the first room. The children could decide which of the games they wanted to play before returning to the first room. The decisive factor for the researchers was whether the children chose the game that was announced to be played later to win the stickers.

Only the children who had imagined how bad it would feel to win only a small number of stickers were more likely to choose the game on which they would later be tested. This indicates that expectations about future events and feelings affect how children behave in the here and now.

"A pessimistic outlook seems to motivate children to prepare for events," says Voigt. "We suspect that preschool children rarely think spontaneously about how unpleasant something will feel." This hypothesis now needs to be tested in future studies.

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Dogchitecture: WE Architecture Designs a Center That Challenges Traditional Animal Shelters

Dogchitecture: WE Architecture Designs a Center That Challenges Traditional Animal Shelters - Door, Facade, Beam

  • Written by Ella Comberg

Copenhagen firm WE Architecture has completed a proposal for a “Dog Center” in Moscow that challenges traditional notions of animal shelters. Nestled in the countryside, the one-story pavilion will rely on a series of courtyards divided by pergolas that disappear into the landscape. The firm notes that the courtyards, which provide enclosed outdoor space for the dogs , allow the center “to avoid the 'jail-like' fencing which is often associated with dog shelters."

Dogchitecture: WE Architecture Designs a Center That Challenges Traditional Animal Shelters - Image 2 of 12

WE, in collaboration with MASU Planning , hopes to create a “healthy and inspiring environment for sheltered dogs and for the different people who will visit and work at the Center.” The project accomplishes its atmospheric goals by complimenting steel pillars with wooden rafters. The rafters extend to create an exterior overhang which functions as “a sun screen in summer time and as an exterior cover/hallway on rainy days.” As visitors approach the building, the green roof , which sits atop the wooden rafters, is meant to serve as a “fifth facade” that can blend in easily with its wooded surroundings. Extensive outdoor seating space bleeds into greenery, inviting both human and animal recreation.

Dogchitecture: WE Architecture Designs a Center That Challenges Traditional Animal Shelters - Image 4 of 12

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Dogchitecture: WE Architecture Designs a Center That Challenges Traditional Animal Shelters - Door, Facade, Beam

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