SENSA-CENTER-RECREATIONAL CENTER FOR THE BLIND & VISUALLY IMPAIRED
Student Name: Niki Tran
School: University of California, Los Angeles, Extension
Studio: Master’s Project Interior Architecture Studio
Instructor: James Ehrencloud
The Sensa‐Center is a recreation center that provides a wide range of services on‐site for the blind and visually impaired in the age group of 15 years on. The facility features optometry exam, a retail store showcasing adaptive technology devices, training rooms for hands‐on learning of braille, class rooms offering educational courses that teaches the users and their families on adjusting to their loss of vision and how to assist the affected individuals. In addition, the Center has a training kitchen, a large multi‐purpose room used for Sensa‐Center and community events, administrative offices, music/ braille library, a restaurant, garden, and a wellness center that’s all opened to the community. All these amenities serve as connection points between the Center and the Community. Conference rooms with state‐of‐the‐art video‐conferencing technology, and dorm rooms where clients can stay on‐site for immersive training and community‐building are also part of the Center. The Sensa‐Center provides a fun, educational, safe, and well structured environment that empower the blind, his/her family that also establishes a direct connection with the community.
According to the ADC in 2015, a total of 1.02 million people were blind, and approximately 3.22 million people in the united states had vision impairment. In considering the issue of disability in our society, the built environment is probably the most potent symbol of the exclusion of people with impairments from society. It appears that the built environment is mostly designed for people who possess clear sight and who can appreciate the atheistic of the space based solely on what can be seen. This can be seen from social environments to work spaces. Specific places for these individuals are few and far between. It is difficult to find a center that offers all the services and amenities in a “one stop shop” while at the same time serves as a destination where the community can also connect with.
The Sensa-Center aims to fill this void, providing a comprehensive space to meet the needs of these often forgotten group of people. The design concept is to evoke the other senses in the body other than sight to fully appreciate the built environment. Originating back in japan during the 1980s, forest bathing is a form of nature therapy. In Japanese, “shinrin” means forest, and “yoku” means bath or immersing oneself in the forest and soaking in the atmosphere through the senses. shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world. The key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses. The idea is to let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet. The Sensa-Center for the blind and visually impaired uses this concept to bring out the senses as they navigate through the space where they can experience the notion of forest bathing but in an architectural context. Forest bathing bridges the gap between us and the natural world, the Sensa-Center aims to bridge the gap between us and architecture by establishing a space that evokes all of the five senses as the users navigate through the space. In addition, the Sensa-Center also serves as a bridge with the users, the space, and the community.