SEARCH WITHIN CONTENT
Citation Information : Architecture, Civil Engineering, Environment. Volume 12, Issue 2, Pages 35-46, DOI: https://doi.org/10.21307/ACEE-2019-021
License : (CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Published Online: 06-August-2019
People with visual impairments make up a very large part of society. Elderly people, as well as children and young people, are affected by sight impairments that sometimes continue until they lose their sight. These people should be facilitated as to their functioning in the environment through appropriate space design. It is reasonable and advisable to adapt the living quarters in particular to meet their needs. In this study, the authors investigated the preferences for colours and textures in living space, with particular emphasis on the kitchen.
Disability in the form of visual dysfunctions and defects affects very large part of human population. This problem does not only concern elderly people, whose natural consequence of aging is the weakening of sight. Unfortunately, many children are born with severe visual impairment. Eyesight diseases often develop and deepen in their adolescence and sometimes they lose their eyesight even within three years. These young people stay in centres for the blind and visually impaired, where they learn how to function as blind people in various spheres of life.
Due to the fact that visual disability concerns a very large number of people of different ages, there is a need for design facilities for these people both in the urban space, architectural space and the closest one, i. e. the house, apartment. That is why the authors of this paper decided to deal with the closest environment of a human being, that is an apartment, and attempted to create guidelines for designing in this area which will satisfy the needs of people with visual dysfunctions and increase comfort of use. According to the authors, the appropriate use of colours and contrasts in residential interiors, for example kitchens, can significantly facilitate their use by visually impaired people .
The postulates of the participants of the conference “Modern blind and partially sighted in a world adapted for them” (Serock 2016), were another inspiration for the authors to undertake the research on this topic. The postulates of the conference included, among others, issues related to visually impaired people and their access to information, aid programmes, education, public media, public spaces and public utility buildings, facilities and adaptating the surroundings to visually impaired people, where appropriate lighting, colour solutions, guiding elements and fields of attention should be provided, i.e. places distinguished in such a way as to focus the attention of visually impaired people [2, 3, 4].
For visually impaired people, daily movement in architectural and urban spaces is still difficult due to the lack of adaptation of these spaces to the needs of these people.
The space surrounding man: the environment, architecture, greenery and the variety of textures and colours evoke different sensations and emotional reactions.
Scientists from various fields show a wide spectrum of effects of colours on the human body. Colours affect on the emotional and physical state of a person, evoke emotional reactions and even physical reactions in the body.
Eyesight seems to be the dominant sense in colour perception, but the research showed that man feels colours through the skin. The skin is capable of absorbing colourful light and its vibrations. Individual colours have different frequencies of vibrations similarly to human cells, therefore different colours affect individual cells of the human body in an individual way.
Human skin absorbs colorful light, so it can be stated that the effect of colours on it is quite strong. If you lose sight, you can see amplification of other senses, e. g. hearing and touch. Blind people more often feel colours, their temperature through the skin receptors . Looking for elements that make it easier for blind and visually impaired people to function in the surrounding space, the authors drew attention to colours and textures. In this study, the authors dealt with the design of the kitchen, with the use of particular colours and textures as elements facilitating the use and movement of visually impaired people.
The process of perception of the space surrounding man takes place with the participation of many senses, not only sight. Pallasma claims that man constantly reacts with the environment with the use of all the senses .
An example of the above can be the phenomenon of synaesthesia consisting in the interaction of different senses in perception. One homogeneous stimulus evokes multisensory sensations . Some colours such as orange, yellow and red evoke taste or appetite sensations in some people. It often happens that people who look at the blue colour experience a feeling of coolness. Probably due to the occurrence of the above phenomena, colour terms derived from sensations of other senses were created .
Very often, individual colours are described as warm or cold, sharp, bland, i. e. words that describe sensations other than sight, such as the sense of taste, touch, thermoreceptors, etc. The colours are often described as warm or cold, sharp, bland, i. e. words that describe sensations other than sight, such as the sense of taste, touch, thermoreceptors, etc.
Some colour descriptions and terms are emotionally related and prove that colours evoke different emotional sensations. Popular terms for colours are: aggressive, vivid red, calm blue, depressing black, etc. These words describe the character of impressions that individual colors bring with them. Many studies have been carried out on colour sensation, most often the nature of a “pleasant” or “unpleasant” sensation. As a result of the research it was found that in addition to basic emotional reactions such as “pleasure”, “unpleasantness”, there are many antagonistic sensations associated with color [9, 10], for example: warm, cold, cheerful, sad, clean, dirty, calm, noisy, etc.
The sensations of colour evoke different emotional and even physical reactions. Some colours have an invigorating, motivating and calming effect on people, while others have a reassuring and calming effect. Orange stimulates appetite, pink relaxes and reduces the level of aggression, etc. Especially the exposure of the body to colourful light influences the functioning of the human body. Blue irradiation used in the rehabilitation of the locomotor system has an anti-inflammatory effect and red has an analgesic effect.
The interest in designing the kitchen began in the 1920s, when socialism developed in Europe and modernism in North America. The XIXth century composition of the kitchen, its appearance and location in houses survived until the mid-twentieth century. The design of Villa Stein in Garches Le Corbusier from 1927 is known, in which the access to the kitchen room was located on the north side and was meant only for service. At the time the kitchen was a dirty, disordered room, which in the space of the house was hidden away from the main entrance.
In the same year, architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky revolutionized the concept of the kitchen. She designed (pattern) the model of “Frankfurt kitchen”. This model was presented in 1930 at the exhibition in Stockholm and significantly influenced the Scandinavian kitchen design. At the same time in Poland Barbara Brukalska designed a model of modern “Polish kitchen” combined with the room. The aim of the project was to facilitate the work of the woman in the kitchen, without kitchen service [11, 12].
In the 1940s, a number of ergonomic studies were carried out in the USA, resulting in the creation of the so-called “Working triangle” in the kitchen. This principle was based on the optimization of kitchen work, maintaining appropriate ergonomic distances between individual appliances, in order to reduce labor consumption. This concept has been applicable up to now in kitchens with small areas, but often already enriched with new generation appliances such as, for example, dishwashers, microwave ovens, built-in coffee machines .
In the 1950s, more colors and textures appeared in the kitchen area. Apart from previously used materials for making kitchen furniture, such as varnished wood, designers started to use more durable materials such as glass, plastics, steel and aluminum. The functionality of the kitchen and the ability to adapt it to the shape of the room have become an important design issue. The kitchen furniture were arranged on a L or U-shaped projection .
The change in the perception of cooking also influenced the evolution of the shape of the kitchen. Cooking was no longer a necessary job, but it became a passion. For years the kitchen has been a separate room for preparing meals and storing products.
In the 70s and 80s, the kitchen room opened to the whole apartment, creating a new common living space and becoming an inseparable element of the representative part of the apartment, and cooking became a “cultural act”. In this way, the appearance of the kitchen has gained in importance and began to attract much more attention to how it presents itself.
The second equally important aspect of the kitchen is its functionality. At the beginning of the 80s, in Poland standards, which gave the coordination dimensions of the elements of kitchen equipment were in force. The height of the upper level of work surface, width and height of low and high elements, kitchen cupboards and devices were determined. The dimensions of the shift of the frontal plane of the plinth in relation to the plane of the fronts of the lower cupboard were determined too . The requirements for the space for preparing meals in the kitchen were precisely specified, specifying the dimensions of functional surfaces and the placement of work zones in the technological sequence .
The main function of the kitchen is to store, prepare meals and have meals. For optimal operation, an appropriate technological line should be created for pre-treatment, clean, heat and finishing of dishes. Appropriate space zoning creates good functional space . The dimensions of the surface to eating meals and the distance from it to the elements of kitchen equipment were also determined .
A good functional and technological design of the kitchen is that it shortens traveled distances while preparing meals, which saves time. Therefore, it is correct to use zoning in the kitchen, based on specific activities. Currently, there are 5 kitchen zones: the zone for storage, washing, preparation, cooking and baking. Such division can be applied to practically all types of kitchens – regardless of their size and shape, and whether they are separate rooms or part of living rooms. For right-handers, these zones are set in a clockwise direction and for left-handed in the opposite one.
Paying attention to ergonomics, products are divided into those that we use constantly, often and sporadically, arranging them at appropriate levels. This assumption is more complicated when using the kitchen by disabled people who should always be provided with access to any place in the room.
The functional kitchen can be designed even in small rooms with the optimal use of space, for example, by using a large number of drawers of appropriate sizes. Instead of two narrow drawers, one wide can be applied gaining more space by up to 15%. You can also use deeper drawers with high side walls that completely use the space, increasing it by more than 50%.
Contemporary, modern kitchen should be not only aesthetic, but also practical. The durability of kitchen, furniture and equipment, that is, the time of using it is, on average, fifteen years, hence the comfort of using it should be ensured . If all these elements are taken into account then we will obtain the kitchen friendly to everyone.
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in order to “enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all spheres of life”, obstacles and barriers to accessibility in buildings, roads, transport, parking lots, schools and housing should be eliminated [20, 3].
There are many references in the literature concerning the design and adaptation of architectural space for the needs of the disabled. However, these actions are aimed at people with physical disabilities and do not take into account the disability of the eyesight. Facilities for people with reduced mobility do not meet the needs of the visually impaired.
There is a provision in the Polish Building Law concerning the obligation to design new facilities that include disabled people’s needs. Existing design guidelines apply to disabled persons in wheelchairs [21, 22, 23]. However, there are no design guidelines for visually impaired people, except for one entry in PN-ISO 3864-1:2006. According to this entry, yellow colour should be used as a safety colour in warning elements, which is the fastest and most easily recognisable by people with visual impairments, as confirmed by tests of light reflection coefficients (LRV) .
As far as colours are concerned, the authors mainly refer to standards such as ISO 21542:2011, which concern research on contrast in public spaces and not residential spaces .
According to the design principles “design for all”, the guidelines are mainly aimed at improving life for people with reduced mobility, mainly in wheelchairs. For visually impaired people, in the literature there is only information on lighting and the required application of colour contrast combinations .
Kamil Kowalski  in his dissertation “The flat for visually impaired people”; draws attention to contrast and colour, which, apart from light, are important elements of interiors adapted for visually impaired people. According to him, contrasting colour combinations used in the apartment can make it much easier for these people to function.
The authors noted lack of research on colour and texture in residential space, kitchen space. “There are no specific guidelines for adapting the kitchen to the needs of visually impaired people” . This is the starting point for basic research in the field of colour preference, legibility of colour contrast combinations and textures in residential spaces, used daily and over a long period.
The main aim of the research was to select colours and their combinations and textures which used in the flat make it easier for visually impaired people to use them. The same combinations of colours and textures will be tested in terms of meeting the aesthetic needs of people with disabilities, as it often happens that one flat is inhabited by both visually impaired and non-disabled people. As the most important utility room, the most difficult and complicated to use at home is the kitchen, the authors decided to deal with this topic. The research was supplemented with analyses of colour preferences, where painting works in specific colour tones were used.
Qualitative and quantitative methods were used in the study. In the first stage, experts, architects and interior designers have nowadays indicated the most frequently used colour combinations of kitchen furniture. There were also selected paintings in colour tones which belong to the group of basic colours in most cultures, which are also the colours of rainbow. In the next stage, the colour and texture preferences of kitchen furniture were tested using samples selected by experts. The research was carried out in groups of sighted and partially sighted people. For the latter group it is particularly important to have properly legible combinations of contrasts to facilitate movement in the room. In addition to examining colour preferences and texture preferences of kitchen furniture, the influence of particular colours on the emotional state of respondents was also examined with the help of paintings in given tones .
The research was carried out at the Special Educational Centre for Blind Children in Owińska. The research was conducted among visually impaired people (colour studies) and blind people (invoice studies) 17-25 aged. The most common visual dysfunctions in this group are: glaucoma, retinoschisis, inflammation elements intermediate film vascular – advance decline sight, partial bilateral decline nerve visual.
Colour preferences were also tested among sighted people.
The aim of the research was to select the textures which are recognizable as the most contrasting ones in order to use them as an information carrier that enables to move about and around the kitchen in a given work surface flow.
For research, 20 competent carpenters were appointed in order to determine by expert the most popular method of furniture claddings with different textures used as fronts of kitchen furniture. As a result of these tests, six mostly used finishing textures were selected and put together in pairs: matt varnish – gloss varnish, wood texture – gloss varnish, speckled texture – gloss varnish, canvas texture – gloss varnish, wave – lacquer texture gloss, texture with fine stripes – lacquer gloss, canvas texture – wood texture. The prepared test samples dimensions were 25 × 9 × 2 cm. In this case, the respondent group consisted of 20 blind people (10 women and 10 men).
Results: a combination of glossy lacquer with wood texture was considered the most readable texture contrast. An interesting result is the fact that blind people sense any difference in materials and the combination of exaggerated sharp contrasts is not always necessary, though for new or occasional users it could be very helpful.
Twenty interior designers were invited to participate in the research. They with the use of expert method selected colours most frequently used in the kitchen furniture. Six pairs of colours were indicated here: grey-red, grey-yellow, grey-black, ivory-grey, brown-ivory and brown-sand. The tests were carried out on modular samples for the project of the kitchen, measuring 60 × 100 cm. The survey included 14 sighted women and 14 visually impaired women as well as 14 sighted men and 14 visuelly impaired men.
While testing a set of brown – ivory colours, 21 among the visually impaired and 25 among sighted people affirmative answers were obtained. Sets with black or yellow colours were rejected, despite the frequent recommendation of such contrasts in professional literature. The research was complemented with analyses of contrast clarity .
The task was to select the most legible contrasting colour combinations. Samples previously used to analyze color preferences were used in the test. Only visually impaired people were interviewed here. The combinations of brown – ivory and yellow – grey turned out to be the most expressive. The most intense emotions were evoked by the yellow colour, which was considered to stimulate the willingness to work. A combination of grey – black is classified as an irritating combination. To sum up, as a result of the research in points 5.2., and 5.3., a pair of brown and ivory colours was considered to be the most positively perceived and distinct set of contrasts .
Works of art have always influenced the audience in some way. With their expression, shape, colours, aura, they evoke a number of emotional sensations and reactions. Many studies in various fields have shown that colour, felt by skin and eyes, has a wide emotional and even physical impact on the human being. That is why it can be assumed that painting works carrying particular colours are also able to act in this way. For many years, the author has been observing and noting the emotions and feelings of people watching her paintings. These people told the author what they felt and what reactions appeared while looking at her paintings. Some of the paintings had a stimulating effect, others were calming, some were felt as warm or cool, some were thoughtful, others motivated to work, and so on. On the basis of these experiences and her own observations, the author paid special attention to the importance of colour of particular paintings and its therapeutic effect.
People distinguish huge numbers of colours and their meaning is sometimes different for different cultures. An interesting phenomenon is that most cultures and social groups consider about eight to eleven colors, which coincide with the colors of the rainbow, to be the primary colors . Based on the above, the most frequently chosen colors of the rainbow: yellow, green, blue and red were selected for the research.
In examining the influence of particular colour tones on the feelings and emotions, the author used on the study conducted in 1910 by N. A. Wells . N. A.
Wells with the help of homogeneous patterns in individual colours, studied the influence of specific colours on the mood and feelings of a person. Instead of homogeneous colour charts used by Wells, the author presented the respondents with paintings in different colour tones. In order to avoid dispersal of respondents’ attention by shapes of paintings, which may also affect the sensations, the paintings used for research have the same composition, shape and size. They only differ in colour tones .
The study was conducted among 80 people (aged 16-40 years), including 20 women and 20 visually impaired men and 20 women and 20 men without vision dysfunction .
The results of research on the influence of painting works in particular colour tones on human emotions are consistent with many studies in the world, in which homogeneous colour samples have been used. Studies among visually impaired people, even with severe visual impairment, have shown that painting works evoke emotions and associations similar to those of the visually impaired . In the course of the study, it was found that visually impaired people experience and felt the effects of colour more intensively than healthy people. Descriptions of impressions and emotional sensations in these people are more detailed and richer, and impressions under the influence of colours are more unanimous, unambiguous than in the case of the visionaries.
An image with a dominant yellow colour and an image with a dominant red colour was more often perceived as irritating and bright by visually impaired people, which proves the intensity of feeling the colour, greater sensitivity of these people to the effect of the colour, which may be caused by perceiving it with a greater number of senses .
In the case of images with dominant yellow, red and blue colours, respondents’ answers to the question whether the image has a stimulating or calming effect were decisive and unambiguous. In the case of the image in green tones, when answering the above question, a problem arose, because according to them its effect is calming, in the sense of relaxation (as opposed to blue, calming in the sense of depression), but also motivating, that is to a small extent stimulating. Generally, the most commonly used term for this image was “neutral” .
The architectural task was to prepare an interior design for a kitchen for an investor who functions in a family whose members are healthy people and people with sight impairments. The visually impaired person preferred space orientation solutions, but was strongly opposed to the creation of a special kitchen for the disabled, with excessive contrasts and the use of yellow. The aim was to find solutions accepted by the whole family. Appropriate colours and textures of materials were selected on the basis of basic research on textures, colours and contrasts.
Ergonomic and technical solutions with particular emphasis on colour, texture and light were used in the design:
– colour contrasts for the basic light and matt colours of kitchen cabinets: dark colour of furniture handles, dark colour of household appliances, dark colour of the sink on a light background of the worktop (the sink is additionally equipped with a light protective grid which makes it easier to control the depth of the sink), dark brown fronts of cabinets with wood texture which accentuate the hot and wet zone.
– lighting: worktops, drawer interiors, linen plinth lighting to emphasize the range of space for movement .
The result of the above actions is the creation of a typhloarea for a housenhold created by sighted persons and persons with sight impairments.
According to the literature, in public spaces, yellow is the most quickly recognizable colour by visually impaired people and is needed to highlight elements that help orientation in the field, and as a safety colour. The authors conducted an analysis of kitchen designs for visually impaired people developed by students as part of their diploma theses conducted at the Faculty of Architecture.
Perhaps on the basis of urban space standards, students associate yellow colour with the design for the visually impaired. In kitchen designs, this colour was used in contrast with other intensive colours such as black.
As a result of basic research, the visually impaired people clearly rejected the use of these colours. That is, the assumptions of designers and their promotors were wrong. Yellow is important as a warning colour and a safety colour, but it is not preferred in residential areas as prolonged exposure to it is tiring and irritating.
In residential areas, desirable colour contrasts are needed to facilitate everyday activities, but without the use of yellow. This colour which is used in the apartment where the person stays every day for a long time, has been unanimously rejected by the visually impaired and recognised as an annoying and irritating colour.
Yellow is not a preferred colour for visually impaired people in residential interiors. Such a result was basically predictable, because living in a space with such strong colour contrasts is simply tiring and, as a result, irritating.
Hence, it may seem that the yellow colour and contrasting combinations of other colours used in the design of residential interiors for visually impaired people will be good and suitable. Among the designers there is a belief that yellow is necessary and required in interior design for visually impaired people. The authors noted that when creating designs for visually impaired people, designers most often use colour combinations such as yellow and black and white and black as the most contrasting combinations, i. e. objectively legible and easy to perceive.
Research by the authors confirmed, among other things, that yellow is the quickly recognizable colour. However, it turned out, surprisingly, that yellow is not the preferred colour for the living space, i. e. the place where you stay longer. The visually impaired persons (respondents) rated yellow as irritating and bright after just 10 minutes of staying close to yellow furniture or yellow painting.
Interestingly, in comparison to sighted people, the visually impaired people turned out to be more sensitive to the influence of colours. Contrary to popular beliefs regarding, the need of the use of bright colours, visually impaired people prefer natural colours such as brown, ivory, etc., which coincides with the preferences of healthy people. Contrast combinations of kitchen furniture facilitate the functioning, easier movement, orientation and use of the kitchen room, but the colours used for these combinations do not have to be bright but calm, such as ivory and brown. When designing kitchens for the visually impaired, different textures of kitchen finishing materials should be used in order to facilitate orientation for the visually impaired and even blind people.