Representing Bodies/Critical Non-Compliance

Representing Bodies is the first of a two-part project that explores the relationship between architecture and the body. One of its main aims is to highlight the historical and moral dimension of traditional representations of embodiment, and how that has informed design practice. Representing Bodies traces a historical and speculative genealogy of the body in its relationship to the designed world. It juxtaposes the iconic bodies of architecture with anatomies that are socially challenging—even “monstrous.” Through techniques that reinterpret and transmute the graphic language of bodily metrics, this project unsettles some of its most influential images and introduces transgressive corporeality in order to contest normative ideas about the functional and aesthetic fit between architecture and people.

This phase lays the conceptual ground for a second project called Critical Non-Compliance, which will generate architectural designs based on the functional, experiential, and semiotic possibilities offered by radically specific bodies. Disability and atypical embodiment thus become a resource to generate new design and teaching methods, formal innovation, and spatial experience. Through exploration of architectural forms and representations that destabilize the centrality of dominant bodily norms, I expand standard body-building relationships.

Project Free to Pee

In August-September 2015, I was a member of project team Free to Pee, led by Corbett O’Toole, selected for a Google.org/TOM Makeathon. The goal of this project, which brought together engineers, designers, and “need knowers” (people with disabilties), was developing technology to help disabled women pee independently. Many women who use wheelchairs are not able to use public toilets because they can’t transfer from wheelchair to toilet by themselves, which prevents their participation in work and social life. Project Free to Pee represents the first design research towards a solution for a problem (and population) that has been largely overlooked by the assistive technology field. Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project wrote a two-part article about Project Free to Pee.