European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC)

Building Empathy: Exercises for An Equitable Society [BE]


Accessibility and inclusion are seen as special cases in design at a global level. There are a lot of groups left out of the conversation regarding the development of the built environment, creating social segregation. [BE] will bring together two very diverse groups of designers, artists, and activists of diverse abilities, disabilities, genders, and ages, AMAIS and Building Diversity, that share common objectives regarding inclusion but from different cultures and perspectives.

Romania and Denmark are different cultures, but they share common obstacles that generate exclusion because the professionals who have an impact on the built environment have biases regarding inclusion. We, AMAIS, have been doing empathy exercises since 2015 to educate the community and turn accessibility and inclusion into natural parts of the design process. To scale the educational models and have an impact outside our country, we must find similar groups, and Building Diversity offers this potential.

Inclusive design means understanding people's diverse needs while also involving them in the design process, so we need to connect with each other in person and understand our contexts, needs, and plans. It’s sharing stories but also directly experiencing the obstacles we face in our societies.

The empathy workshop we propose has a duration of 2 days and involves 10–15 participants, with the end result of establishing a base for organising an empathy retreat, the most complex inclusive dialogue context we have organised so far. In order to be able to generate real inclusion, it’s essential to educate diverse professional voices to nurture their own introspection abilities by exposing them to human diversity in general while also making them contemplate the relationship between the built environment and common situations of exclusion.

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