22-10:30-7-1 / It’s About Time Body Conscious Design

Body Conscious Design (BCD) is a new theory, method, and practice that focuses on the design of objects, buildings, and places based on how well they serve human bodies. BCD emphasizes that the person in person-environment relations is a social,…

22-10:30-7-1 / It's About Time Body Conscious Design

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Body Conscious Design (BCD) is a new theory, method, and practice that focuses on the design of objects, buildings, and places based on how well they serve human bodies. BCD emphasizes that the person in person-environment relations is a social, psychological, and physical being. Yet, after 50 years of person-environment studies few attend to the physical person.

BCD is urgent. Rethinking sitting is particularly crucial: studies show that sitting more than three hours daily causes premature mortality from heart attack, stroke and cancer – more than being old, fat, or smoking. (Ironically, sitting while trying to solve the climate emergency will kill us.) But changing sitting means transforming habitus, a serious challenge, given the inertia built into Western chair sitting. BCD catalyzes an evolution out of this obsolete practice.

Western culture and design standardize bodies restrain them in movement and posture, and cause physical pain and deformities. Standardized design includes, in addition to chairs: shoes and clothing, and home, work, school, and transportation structures and routines. These can all be redefined by Body Conscious designs.

Because BCD addresses mind, body, and culture, it benefits from an experiential/participatory approach. Designers must become aware of their own soma in order to make physiologically supportive designs. Loose-fit architecture can be defined by BCD as buildings and products that are flexible and evolve over time, and that allow users to be flexible, move, and evolve without constraint or deformation.

This workshop is for architects and designers who care about the physical world, and for researchers and movement practitioners who care about physiological well-being. Often, architects and designers do not understand anatomy and physiology, while social scientists and bodyworkers do not understand how the built environment affects health and behavior, or don’t know how to make design changes.

These sessions will bring together designers, researchers, and practitioners from New Zealand, Australia, India, Europe, and North America towards two main goals: to build a global, interdisciplinary community among designers and users of the built environment; and to cultivate and support a new generation of designers who will launch BCD into the mainstream.

Learning Objectives

1. Concepts, principles, guidelines, and terminology, e.g., affordances, alignment, alternating strain, comfort, consciousness, embodied cognition, ergonomics, movement, sedentary behavior, somatics, postures (including lounge, perch, sit-stand, squat)
2. Benefits: supporting the body’s optimal alignment and choreographing opportunities to change position and move regularly
3. Crucial research questions: effectiveness of BCD regarding anatomical issues and social-psychological performance and acceptability
4. Possible next steps: draft a vision statement, assemble examples tested by research and experience
5. Connections with mainstream (smartphone) audiences
How to create body friendly lifeways, lead by example, build collective awareness of BCD’s importance, and confront issues of resistance and cultural variation

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