Reflection Of Empathic Design Process On Interior Architecture Students’ Universal Design Solutions

Yeşiltepe, Melis
Demirkan, Halime
Most interior architecture students encounter challenges in reflecting the universal design (UD) approach and applying human factors and ergonomics (HF/E) principles in their design projects. In design education, as students’ empathic ability develops, their UD understanding enhances, and they can design more accessible, usable, and universal products or environments. This study explores the reflections of empathic design (ED) techniques on students’ UD solutions in the design process. Twelve second-year (except control group, Group D, n=3) interior architecture undergraduate students experienced an ED technique (Group A, direct contact with the user, Group B, obtaining indirect information about the user and attending a lecture, Group C, role-playing) as a learning method to collect data about the user (with a broken arm), then all participated students (n=12) redesigned the existing kitchen of the user and reflected their learning and design outcomes. The case study was conducted virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The transcripts from video recordings, including the data collected from group interviews and design conversations, are analyzed thematically. The results demonstrated that experiencing ED is positively reflected in students’ perceptions of their learning experiences and outcomes with an increase in self-awareness and design awareness. Students remembered their prior courses’ knowledge and their individual ED experiences to produce UD solutions. Three ED techniques positively influence students’ UD solutions since they change students’ design thinking approach. Group A was user-centered, Group B recalled their EM, and Group C was activity-based while proposing design solutions. However, Group D was indecisive and needed extra time to complete the requirements. Each ED technique is particularly helpful in supporting the learning domain, but the role-playing technique is found to be more effective in increasing empathy levels and finding UD solutions compared to the others.
Citation Formats
M. Yeşiltepe and H. Demirkan, “Reflection Of Empathic Design Process On Interior Architecture Students’ Universal Design Solutions,” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 59–82, 2023, Accessed: 00, 2023. [Online]. Available: