Access to World Heritage Sites: Design Products that Transform Sites into Collective Spaces for Enjoyment and Interactive Learning

By Marina Puyuelo Cazorla, Lola Merino Sanjuán, Monica Val Fiel, Francisco Felip Miralles and Jaume Gual Ortí.

Published by The Design Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

We live in a scenario marked by a technological environment, from which emerges a new social concept of culture based on access to and enjoyment of information. Nevertheless, access to the various cultural and physical expressions of humankind is not just a product of the New Technologies, since there are particular idiosyncrasies associated with each environment and physical spaces considered as heritage that make necessary the use of more traditional technical solutions to assure maximum accessibility.

Accessibility solutions applied to heritage sites must be integrated with their environment, without being aggressive to their preservation or integrity. These solutions seek the goal of bringing the cultural resources to the citizens, especially to those groups with different types of disabilities: blindness, reduced mobility, deafness, etc. Designs seek to make them direct participants in cultural events, changing their role from a passive to a fully active one. This approach turns the heritage site into a fully didactic, interactive area open to all participants.

With this objective, this paper presents a study of the state-of-the-art adaptations implemented in different areas of heritage. We have observed access from the perspective of product design, analysing which devices have been put in place, such as instruments for signalling, information support, or tactile paving. We focus our research in two areas considered as World Heritage in Spain, taking significant examples of those distinct categories registered by UNESCO: Natural Heritage and Building Cultural Heritage, and analyzing the implemented designs. This analysis will allow us to identify and understand the solutions applied to deal with the idiosyncrasies of each site, and propose specific design guidelines for achieving cultural access in these enclaves.

Keywords: Design Accessibility, Culture Access, Collective Use, Disabilities, Interactive Learning, Didactic Space, World Heritage

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.409-434. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 22.251MB).

Dr. Marina Puyuelo Cazorla

Professor, Department of Graphical Expression in Architectural Trends, School of Technical Design Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia, Spain

M. Puyuelo is professor, academic and curator. She currently heads the project DAPA Design and Technologies for the Use and Accessibility of the World Heritage. She led a research project focusing on urban parks for elderly people which won the 2004 Research Award from the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón (Spain). Her research investigates products for public spaces, accessibility and inclusive design. She has published several books as result of these projects, and these provide a framework for understanding accessibility in the context of product design practice.

Lola Merino Sanjuán

Associate Professor, Department of Graphical Expression in Architectural Trends, School of Technical Design Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia, Spain

L. Merino is a practising architect, academic and curator. She holds the speciality of Urban Furniture Design at the same school and has wide experience in garden and urban park design.

Monica Val Fiel

Lecturer, Department of Graphical Expression in Architectural Trends, School of Technical Design Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia, Spain

Architect and graduate in Fine Arts. Professor at the Universitat Politècnica de València. Mónica Val is currently in a doctoral program studying design for public spaces and collective use. She is also a participant in the DAPA project.

Dr. Francisco Felip Miralles

Technical Assistant, Department of Graphical Expression in Architectural Trends, School of Technical Design Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia, Spain

Graduate in Industrial Design Engineering and Fine Arts. Technical Assistant in the project DAPA at the School of Technical Design Engineering at Universitat Politècnica de València.

Jaume Gual Ortí

Lecturer, Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Design (ESID), High School of Experimental Sciences, Universitat Jaume I, Castellon, Spain

J. Gual is professor at the Universitat Jaume I, currently working towards a Masters in Product Design Engineering and will continue in a doctoral program in design for collective use and accessibility.

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