Freedom by Design

In early March of 2012, Principal architect Onah Jung was invited to the Ryerson University Department of Architecture to participate in a design charette held by the student-led group Freedom By Design (FBD). Through design and fundraising, FBD provides accessibility in the homes of lower-income disabled individuals, receiving aid and mentorship from industry professionals and willing sponsors. The client for the 2012 term, Ecuhome, is an organization providing subsidized housing for lower-income persons, usually having just left the homeless shelter system. Through the full-day charette, Onah along with other architects and construction managers provided input and guidance into the potential accessibility designs which ranged from reprogramming the apartment spaces, to widening access points, to a complete redesign of the washroom. The critical point of Onah’s and other industry professionals’ involvement was the element of reality injected into the venture. Accompanying grandiose schemes were the reminders of budgeting and time-constraints. The desire for aesthetics was balanced with a consideration for a broad range of client needs. However, despite differences in experience and background, a common element of the day permeating not only the professionals and students but the client as well was the feeling of optimism for the project ahead.