“When architecture erases handicaps” exhibition at Euralille

Maison de l’architecture et de la Ville de Lille is showcasing twenty-four projects that prove handicap-aware design is possible, and must be present throughout the whole architecture design process and concept development. The exhibition will be open until June 20.


Room Room, by Takeshi Hosaka ©  Koji Fujii Nacasa&Partners Inc.

Room Room, by Takeshi Hosaka © Koji Fujii Nacasa&Partners Inc.


Buildings fit for everyone, conscious of collectives with special necessities or disabilities – this is the sort of architecture that the Maison de l’architecture et de la Ville de Lille is showcasing in an exhibition, proving that handicap-friendly design is possible and must be present throughout the whole design process and concept development.

Through twenty-four projects, ranging from a large-scale hospital building to an almost minimal house in which the domestic environment is adapted to the owners special needs, the exhibition stated off last April 14 with a round-table lecture, and will remain open until June 20.



Tree House  © A6 Architects

Tree House © A6 Architects



About the exhibition


For many of us, places designed for people with disabilities inevitably conjure up images of padded walls and fittings added on to buildings after construction, such as service lifts, access ramps or safety barriers around potential danger zones. Practical as they may be, the effect of these cumbersome add-ons invariably casts the brief “for-handicap” in negative mode, as not conducive to coherent architecture.

Architectural design for people with disabilities calls for sensitive understanding of the specific nature of a handicap, which may concern impairment related to the physical, sensorial, mental or cognitive functions of individuals… The fact is, no matter how healthy or normal we are, all of us are prone to illness, accident and old age.

Once we are conscious of this, our social representations of disabilities are bound to improve. Changing mind-sets and the ways handicaps are assimilated to daily life calls for awareness of both ‘the right to be different’ and ‘the right not to be different’ – a source of paradoxes that have to be addressed.



Hazelwood School, by Alan Dunlop  © Andrew Lee

Hazelwood School, by Alan Dunlop © Andrew Lee


About the projects


In designing his psychiatric hospital at Elsinore in Denmark, architects PLOT (Bjarke Ingels & Julien de Smedt) concentrated on centralized layout; this enables staff to keep an eye on inmates, who nonetheless remain free and independent in an otherwise decentralized facility.

In London, 6a architects did an extension to a house that integrates trees and garden, creating an extended space for a mother who is confined to a wheel chair. In Tokyo’s Itabaki district, architect Takeshi Hosaka has designed a shapely family home that has a hundred windows, by which the owner-parents, both of whom are deaf, maintain eye contact with their two young children.

This exhibition at the MAV Lille looks at the ways in which architectural design helps to improve living for all kinds of people. In a score of built projects in France and all over the world, it shows how architecture can ease the everyday stress of disability. During the event a round table will be held to discuss issues related to handicap-aware design.



Selvika National Route, by Reiulf  Ramstad Arkitekter © Jiri Havran

Selvika National Route, by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter © Jiri Havran


List of projects featured in the exhibition

– Laurent House – Rockford (Illinois, USA) – Frank Lloyd Wright (1949)
– Psychiatric Hospital – Elsinore (DK) – PLOT (Bjarke Ingels + Julien de Smedt) (2005)
– Children Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre – Hokkaido (J) – Sou Fujimoto (2006)
– Motricity Section, Collège Martonne – Laval (F) – Guinée*Potin + Block architects (2007)
– Level Centre – Rowsley (UK) – Clash Architects (2008)
– Huis aan’t Laar – Zoersel (B) – 51N4E (2009)
– Domus Foundation – Ardon (CH) – François Meyer Architect (2009)
– Sowa Unit – Saitama (J) – Kensuke Watanabe Architecture Studio (2009)
– Vandhalla – Egmont Hojskolen (DK) – Force 4 Architects + Cubo Architects (2009)
– Room Room – Itabashi, Tokyo (J) – Takeshi Hosaka (2010)
– Care Housing – Duns (UK) – Oliver Chapman Architects (2010)
– Medical Care Hostel – Mattaincourt (F) – Dominique Coulon & associés (2010)
– Post-Traum Clinic – Champigny (FR) – AZC Architects (2011)
– Bal House – Santa Margarita, California (USA) -Terry & Terry Architecture (2011)
– Children’s Psychiatric Wing – Saragossa (SP) – G///Bang Architectural Concept (2011)
– Rehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal – Arnhem (NL) – Architectenbureau Koen van Velsen (2011)
– Post-traumatic Clinic- Champigny (F) – AZC architectes (2011)
– Community Library – Muyinga (Burundi) – BC Architects (2012)
– Medical Care Hostel – Limay (FR) – AZC Architects (2012)
– Selvika Rest Area on Tourist Route – Finnmark (N) – Reiulf Ramstad Architects (2012)
– MM Loft – Bilzen (Belgium) – CT Architects (2012)
– Musholm – Korsor (DK) – AART Architects (2013)
– The Tree House – London (UK) – 6a Architects (2014)
– De Lork – Brussels (B) – 51N4E (2014)



Practical Information

Quand l’architecture efface le handicap
When architecture erases handicaps
14/04 – 20/06

Maison de l’architecture et de la Ville de Lille
Place François Mitterrand
F-59777 Euralille



News contents courtesy of MAV-Lille