A Visu-centric Living Room
Guided by the belief that the function of the space always comes first when designing, the team underwent thorough research just to be able to carefully design a living room space that would be not only convenient for those who hear but those who are deaf as well. By teaming up with different educational institutions for the deaf and interviewing three deaf people, the team achieved a more reliable basis for their design.
In the course of their research, the team came across a known concept in the deaf culture, stating that there are two worlds present in the society namely the EARth and the EYEth. Unlike on EARth where the people extremely depend on hearing and speaking to be able to communicate, EYEth offers a world that hearing and speaking are no longer necessary. EYEth provides an effective deaf space that is highly visual-centered and offers deaf people a visu-centric way of orienting with the world around them.
Channeled by this principle, the team designed a living room space that has a round or curved form to be able to aid a barrier-free atmosphere—an atmosphere where everyone sees everyone and everything else within the room. In a round space, easier communication through sign language is facilitated enabling the deaf to see each other in the room while communicating. A feeling of collectiveness within the room is also attained since each person constantly achieves a sense of connection to everyone present in the space.
Adding visual functions to devices that are auditory in nature was also a major consideration when it comes to designing this living room space. For the doorbell, the telephone and the alarm systems to be highly effective and operational for both the deaf and the hearing, the team added a lighting system that functions simultaneously with the sounds produced by these specific
devices. The lighting systems are placed mainly on the wall niches at the right side and at the feature wall on the opposite side so as to be seen all throughout the living room. Each time the deaf needs to be notified, the amount of the light corresponding to the action intensifies.
Likewise, reflections also extend the sensory reach of the deaf. This is why mirrors were added particularly at the wall niches and the feature wall. By doing so the design presents the deaf a feeling of awareness and safekeeping of their surroundings even without hearing anything. Since the fear generating a lot glare and unwanted reflections through big mirrors was greatly considered, the team opted for a more stylized type of design where cut square mirrors were carefully spread on the feature wall in an artistic manner. This type of design minimizes the possibility of glare and unwanted reflections to interfere with the line of sight of the deaf when signing and communicating.
Communicating in sign language also requires appropriate lighting, which is indirect and not glaring, enabling the deaf to have an easier time to converse. Taking this into account, the designers combined both task and accent light to create a softer and more pleasant illumination within the room. According to the Deaf Space Principles, this type of illumination is much more appreciated by the deaf since their vision is much more heightened compared to hearing people. Additionally, dispersed and diffused natural light comes easily inside the living room since it was designed to have high and bigger windows. For security purposes, big windows also facilitate a more accessible way for the deaf to see and be seen even from the outside.
The other materials such as the type flooring and wall treatments used in the living room are not only selected for their aesthetic value, they also play a vital role in the functionality of the space.
Since the deaf cannot hear they have adapted the ability to feel sound vibrations instead of hearing them. This posed a challenge to the designers since they needed to create a way of designing a space that permits these vibrations to be reflected and bounced back all throughout the room. By building a curved wall
opposite the seating area, sound vibrations coming from the seats will easily be reflected by the wall. On the other hand, by putting a collage of flat squares using different materials like wood, metal, glass and mirror on the feature wall also enables the sound vibrations to be reflected on the other side of the room. The designers, moreover, utilized wood as their flooring material since it assists any deaf person in the room to feel the vibrations that may come from the other parts of the house.
Collaborating with three deaf people in the process of designing the living room space, the designers found out that the deaf people actually like their homes to make use of a lot of bright and light colors. Since the deaf are highly dependent on their vision, abrupt transitions from light to dark colors create extra problems for them since this gives them eyestrain. The use of neutral and nude tones in most parts of the living room, especially on the floor and the walls, gives the space a more soothing, radiant and unobstructed atmosphere. The Deaf Space principles in architecture furthermore emphasizes that the use of gradual contrast between light and dark colors creates great assistance to the deaf in visualizing sign language. Because of this, the team decided to balance the light colors with brown shades and earth tones particularly in the furniture to give the living room a warm and comfortable ambiance.
During the design phase of this living room, the main goal of the team was to come up with a living room space, which can accommodate both the deaf and the hearing. Through the use of different design elements aided by the Deaf Space Principles of architecture, the team was able to achieve this goal by creating a well-designed living room that minimizes the need for deaf people to ask for assistance from hearing people just to perform their daily tasks. The group was able to put into reality the concept of EYEth in this small space, since hearing and speaking are no longer compulsory to be able to have the living room properly function and be utilized fully.
BOOTH 1: DINIG (LIVING ROOM)
MEMBERS: BANTUG, Ana Celina, GOMEZ, Ma. Patrica, LAGASCA, Cristine Margaux, RAMOS, Marc Renan & TINGCUNGCO, Ma. Francesca