background      studio      process      projects      links      sponsors      contact


Joshua Winter

Hazelwood House

The Effects of the Built Environment on Mobility for Dual-Sensory Impaired Persons

When designing Hazelwood House, it was imperative to understand how dual-sensory impaired persons move and view the world around them. Since circulation and mobility is a challenge for these individuals, it became the focus of this proposal. Research into the methods by which the blind use location and direction clues has shown that a wide variety of aural, tactile and kinesthetic senses are used (Baynes and Francklin 49). The most important variable that effects the ease of mobility for visually impaired people is the quality of the environment in which the individual functions (Aiello and Steinfeld 3). Characteristics of the built environment, including simplicity and clarity, consistency, volumetric proportions, tactility, lighting, color and contrast, and acoustics, influence how easily these individuals move around using a range of their other senses.

A gateway defining the entrance of the site consists of the live-in staff house and a lookout tower for residents to ascend and experience the sky and treetops. A long datum pathway leads the residents to an open courtyard which is defined by a generous community and shared meeting space and the residents’ homes. Lined with trees and edged with river rock, the path is clearly defined while other paths of different materials intersect to clearly articulate another possible direction. Parallel with the main pathway, a garden and art studio rest along the far edge of the site, overlooking an open green court.

The two residences are divided into three main volumes: the shared living area and two groups of bedrooms. Slivers of support spaces tie the gathering room together with the  dining room and kitchen. These angled walls provide as directional and tactile aids to move throughout the space and lead them to the bedroom corridors. Two groups of three bedrooms shift along the edges of the living area in different directions to create variation while still offering a clear and consistent layout. The bedroom corridors reflect the angle of the slivers in the living space while light from clerestory windows floods the colored alcoves of each individual’s bedroom door, clearly defining one from the other. The bedrooms are shallowly sunken into the earth to bring nature to their fingertips while also providing as a barrier from the surrounding noise. The angles of the corridor and bedroom ceiling heights offer a change in volumetric perception and acoustical qualities; the bedroom ceiling rises as it reaches out to the exterior and the bedroom corridors narrow towards the end.

With the design characteristics of this project employed, it is believed that the dual-sensory impaired residents of Hazelwood House would be able to experience their surroundings more freely, learn from the design strategies in place, and become more independent and active individuals as a result.

View Joshua Winter’s Final Paper:

Site Context Plan

Site Plan


Daylighting, Residence Parti, Structure

Parti, Exterior Spaces

Site Section

Site Section

Residence Building Section

Residence Building Section

Gateway Entrance

Resident Courtyard

Shared Resident Living Space

Resident Corridor

Building Construction Detail

Site Model - Gateway Entrance

Site Model - Resident Cluster


To view more of Joshua Winter’s process, visit the studio Process page.

Entry Lawn