The multidisciplinary 'Center for Human Centric Research' housed at SPA-Bhopal works in consonance with the ethos of SPAB charter regarding 'Social Sustenance'. The centre practices 'equity by design' to include vulnerable populations like persons with disabilities, elderly, and social and ethnic minorities. The center supports human-centric approach as a multidisciplinary problem solving approach that tries to optimize the environment with extensive attention to the intended users. This approach has tremendous application in the developing countries, where majority of user population does not have power to influence the design and planning process. Objectives of this research and design development center are:
- Bring awareness amongst future architects and planners to respond to the needs of diverse human population otherwise marginalized in the past design practices, for collective socio-economic-cultural development in the country.
- Build a research based body of knowledge with all realms of the ethnographic, qualitative and quantitative experimental paradigms, to support human centered design process.
To attain its objectives, the center functions in four major areas,
‘Identification of Research Priority Areas and Networking’, ‘Education and Training’, ‘Research and Design Development’ and ‘Dissemination’.
- Identification of Research Priority Areas and Networking: CHCR conducts think tanks to brainstorm and identify the areas of research priority with the core resource group with similar interests. It also connects all stakeholders (SPA-faculty and students, other Institutes of higher learning, NGOs, government agencies, consumers, users and service providers) to address these priority areas. The center organizes national and international talks, workshops, public exhibitions, awareness campaigns on the concerning areas.
- Education and Training: CHCR acts as a resource center to facilitate researches addressing people centric studies in the built environment at local, regional and national level. The center has resource faculty members, human centric lab and offers specialized academic courses in the related subjects. It regularly organizes multidisciplinary design studios, training workshops and student competitions. Some national level training programme includes multidisciplinary Design Innovation Centre electives, studios and hands-on workshops, national student design competitions on the themes ‘Inclusive Design’, ‘Universal Design for Exploring World Heritage Sites’ and ‘Inclusive Design in Pilgrimage sites’. At international level, the center conducted an international elective at National Institute of Design on ‘Designs for Elderly’ and conducted design studio on ‘Universal Design for Cultural Interface in Sacred Site of Ujjain’ under Berkeley Prize endorsed by Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley, USA.
- Research and Design Development: CHCR Initiates and supports faculty and student projects in the identified priority areas at School of Architecture and Planning, Bhopal. It also supports undergraduate, postgraduate projects/studios and PhD research on the theme. Some of the projects include DEIC for National Health Mission, low-cost disabled friendly toilets in Anganwadi centers in association with Arushi and UNICEF, Universal Design India Project in collaboration with NID, Ahmedabad etc. The center is also empanelled as Access Auditors with Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- Dissemination: CHCR brings out publications on the subject for information sharing and developing a body of knowledge to help architects, engineers, planners, designers and other stakeholders, who work in this area. The center has published SPANDREL, an international refereed journal on ‘Social Sustenance by Social Equity’ to address needs of the vulnerable groups like persons with disabilities, children and elderly. It has also published an annual calendar on universal design to disseminate Universal Design India Principles and a monthly periodical for Design for All Institute of India. Another publication of CHCR ‘Uniting Differences’ is based on winning entries of a Design Competition on Inclusive Design. The center regularly conducts public exhibitions in and outside SPA-Bhopal.
The center has worked with UNESCO, United Nations ESCAP, NID Ahmedabad, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Roorkee, UC Berkeley, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Accessibility India Campaign, National Health Mission, ASI, NIOH, Arushi, DRONAH, Ability Unlimited, MMCF etc to attain it’s objectives. The center and the associated faculty received Universal Design Awards 2012, 2013 and 2016, instituted by NCPEDP, Mphasis and Access Ability, given by then Ministers, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.