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AT DWELLBEING WE DO DESIGN DIFFERENTLY.

At Dwellbeing we do design differently. We think differently and we know that for a building to be enjoyable and perform well for its occupants it requires more than just the technical considerations of space. We believe that a more ‘ Human- centered’ approach brings greater results that deliver to the core of an educational setting – the students and teachers.

When we design educational spaces we begin with the occupants and understand the need to deliver a design that allows for self-development, wellbeing and comfort. We combine a blend of architectural and behavioural design that is so unique we are the only practice in Ireland offering a blend of architecture, flow optimisation and sensory design. Services range from assessment and audits, design research services and full design consultancy.

EDUCATION AND DESIGN

According to the World Health Organisation ( 2021) one in 160 children worldwide has a diagnosis of ASD. In Ireland, a recent study by the Department of Health (2018) concluded that ‘ there is a robust case for adopting an estimated prevalence of 1-1.5% of the population’. We know however that the term neurodiverse encompasses a wide range of other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities.

A review of the Education Act in 2015 by the National Council for Special Education of the provisions for children with ASD emphasised the need for a Universal Design for Learning approach. To facilitate both neurotypical and neurodiverse needs schools and learning environments must bridge the gap between spatial needs and behavioural science to ensure a safe and proactive space that promotes well-being for both child and teaching staff.

OUR APPROACH

A feasibility or exploratory session is the first way to understand a school or learning environment and begins with a visit to discuss the main problems encountered on a daily basis. Need and wants are prioritised across spatial, behavioural, technical, financial and regulatory. Karen believes that before an architect or engineer is retained it is important to assess the practical needs and wants by completing a full sensory audit using a Scorecard Model and aligning to the specific needs and wants.
Once the brief is gathered a comprehensive report is presented that offers clarity, direction and peace of mind before any formal appointments are made.

Karen’s work is grounded in both academic research, practical application as a partner in an Accredited RIAI architectural practice and experience as a parent to a neurodiverse teenager. She also specialises in Flow Optimisation and Designing for the Senses and brings a wealth of coaching experience to help clients unwrap problems and find spatial solutions for educational wellbeing and development.

OUTDOOR SPACES CAN PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OBSERVATION, INVESTIGATION AND PROBLEM SOLVING AND FORM A FLEXIBLE FACILITY OFTEN MORE READILY ADAPTABLE TO CHANGE IN USER REQUIREMENTS THAN THE BUILDING ITSELF. THEY CAN OFFER A STIMULATING ENVIRONMENT SUITED TO PRACTICAL ACTIVITIES FROM WHICH MANY PUPILS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS CAN BENEFIT’.

Building Bulletin 77 (1992:49)

RECENT WORK

Upon the recommendation of an OT a Feasibility Study was undertaken for the re-development and re-design of the Outdoor Space for a Special School for mixed 4-18 age groups located in Munster. The school building was in need of upgrading and the outdoor spaces were not fit for purpose due to safety concerns and poor adaptation for students and teachers when on duty. The study involved a mix of surveys, observation, sketch proposals, spatial surveys and took specific factors into account including user needs, experiential design, technical guidance, maintenance and budgets, understanding the Types of Play, Designing for the Senses and ART. The school was then able to present a robust case to the Board of Management and Department of Education in order to progress the project formally ( May 2023)

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

Hi Karen That all looks fantastic! Thank you so much for all the time and thought that you have put into it. I have passed on a copy to the principal and she is going to present it to the Board of Management at the next meeting. The management team is highly impressed and excited about everything you have presented to us.

Vice Principal Waterford
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