Since the completion of Meadowvale Community Centre + Library, the project has received recognition for its inclusivity and barrier-free design. This project, which replaced an existing community centre, fosters inclusion of the whole community through the number and diversity of people served by the expanded program and the ease with which those users can access the facility.
This new building, at almost twice the size of its predecessor, can better serve the growing community with a wider range of amenities. Now recreational, therapeutic and informational facilities are inviting to a diversity of users. It is about creating a space for everybody, as Design Director Andrew Frontini discusses in a recent interview with the CBC. As Andrew further describes to CLADnews, “shedding our preconceived notions of accessibility allowed us to frame the Meadowvale Community Centre as a gateway for the community. We aimed to design something that would be easy to manoeuvre around, no matter your age or ability. From the layout of the amenities to the amalgamation of the previously off-site library, there is truly something here that everyone can use”.
The project was also recently recognized by March of Dimes Canada with an Award of Merit for Barrier-Free Design.
Realizing inclusive, accessible architecture requires a broader discussion than one about ramps and door widths. The AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) acknowledges barriers come in different forms including physical, architectural, information, communication, attitudinal and technological.
Barriers can also take the form of a policy or a practice. For us, architecture that achieves this comprehensive definition of accessibility not only includes spaces available to a diversity of users but engages design to make those spaces apparent and easily navigable. The discussion surrounding these projects demonstrates that often what is good for inclusivity and accessibility is good for design.
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