cover of book

The Architecture of Disability: Buildings, Cities, and Landscapes beyond Access
by David Gissen
University of Minnesota Press, 2022
Cloth: 978-1-5179-1249-9 | Paper: 978-1-5179-1250-5
Library of Congress Classification NA2500.G47 2022


A radical critique of architecture that places disability at the heart of the built environment

Disability critiques of architecture usually emphasize the need for modification and increased access, but The Architecture of Disability calls for a radical reorientation of this perspective by situating experiences of impairment as a new foundation for the built environment. With its provocative proposal for “the construction of disability,” this book fundamentally reconsiders how we conceive of and experience disability in our world.

Stressing the connection between architectural form and the capacities of the human body, David Gissen demonstrates how disability haunts the history and practice of architecture. Examining various historic sites, landscape designs, and urban spaces, he deconstructs the prevailing functionalist approach to accommodating disabled people in architecture and instead asserts that physical capacity is essential to the conception of all designed space.

By recontextualizing the history of architecture through the discourse of disability, The Architecture of Disability presents a unique challenge to current modes of architectural practice, theory, and education. Envisioning an architectural design that fully integrates disabled persons into its production, it advocates for looking beyond traditional notions of accessibility and shows how certain incapacities can offer us the means to positively reimagine the roots of architecture.

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