Who says the capstone project has to be boring? These graduating college students from Benilde are using what they know to renovate a local PWD center.
Before college students can get that well-deserved degree and take their first steps in the “real world,” they first need to finish a final project or capstone work. To many, that comes in the form of the dreaded thesis and its many research-heavy aspects. But getting swamped in the nitty-gritty of qualitative or quantitative data isn’t the end for some graduates. Others instead are asked to use what they learned in their years in college in a culminating project that brings about positive change in the community. And that is what AKAY is all about.
INTERIOR DESIGN FOR THE GOOD
Graduating students under the Bachelor of Science in Interior Design (BS-InD) program from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde have to go through INTDXHI/INDEXHI (Interior Design Exhibit), the capstone course of the program that puts what the students have learned from their time in school to practical projects that help their local community. Since 2016, graduating interior design students have partnered with institutions, communities, and beneficiaries for these projects to renovate spaces. Previous examples include a daycare center, a community library, and a healthcare center.
For the graduating class of 2022, they’re using their skills to help a community that is often underserved in public spaces, the Persons With Disabilities (PWD) Community. Specifically, they aim to create proper design solutions to enhance the lifestyle of the community members. To that end, they named their project AKAY: Reinforcing Inclusivity Within the PWD Community by Implementing a Sustainable, Adequate, and Borderless Interior Environment.
As for their partner institution, the students decided to work with Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. located in Cainta, Rizal. Since 1973, the non-profit organization has been working to give those in the PWD community a safe space to lead proper lives and have access to proper livelihoods. In a time when discrimination against the PWD community is still visible, Tahanang Walang Hagdanan continuously strives to have those who are less able-bodied be self-sufficient and contributing members of society. As their name suggests, they envision a world free of those barriers stopping or inhibiting PWD members from being the best they can be.
A BETTER SPACE FOR PWDs
AKAY will be renovating the main office of the organization. Currently, the 54 sqm space serves as the reception area and conference room, two important spaces where visitors will stay and see the institution’s core. The problem is that the main office needs improvement to make it more accessible to PWDs, such as a layout and furniture pieces that aren’t as accommodating as they can be.
So, AKAY aims to provide a sustainable, adequate, and borderless interior environment fit for wheelchair users and other PWDs. They plan to redesign the space with a barrier-free interior concept and incorporate a layout that is better suited for mobility for wheelchair users. Design treatments that modernize the look and aesthetic of the space will be incorporated as well to change how they entertain their guests and increase productivity in their meetings.
The project will begin at the end of October 2022 with turnover slated for the end of November 2022. Once all the renovations are complete, AKAY hopes that the new space will be a safe, sustainable, inclusivity, and accessible environment where wheelchair users and PWDs can push their potential in a borderless interior limitless possibilities and expanding opportunities.
When you think about interior design, a common idea is designing a space to make it match a certain aesthetic. But it actually goes so much deeper than that, as this project shows. It can be used as a tool to improve the lives of people and create safe spaces beneficial for all. You can check out AKAY’s Facebook page for more information on the project.