By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.

Close

Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Close

Foster's City Hall attacked over its High-Tech 'failure'

High-Tech, with its preference for monochrome glass and steel, is inherently at odds with the needs of the visually impaired, a study has found.

Access consultant Adrian Cave found that Foster and Partner's City Hall was a prime example of the problems faced by the partially sighted. Cave visited more than 100 buildings accompanied by a visually impaired colleague. His conclusions are published in the Centre for Accessible Environments' publication, Access by Design.

'Particularly in High-Tech buildings, the use of a lot of glass creates problems with glare and people being in silhouette, ' Cave said. 'We looked at hundreds of buildings, but City Hall was one that had particular problems.'

The study outlined a number of key complaints. It found that 'most of the colours are very grey and muted, often with shine on the floor and glare from the windows'; the manifestation of the glass was too high, at 1,200mm above the ground, making it easy to miss; the staff at the information desk were lit in a way that made them appear in silhouette, making lip-reading difficult; that there were confusing reflections everywhere; and that braille notices were difficult to find.

However, it praised the acoustics in the cafe - 'a welcome contrast to the innumerable cafes and restaurants elsewhere which have such reverberant spaces that normal speech is almost impossible'.

Cave called on architects to have a greater awareness of these problems and to introduce more colour in their schemes.

In contrast to City Hall, he praised Herzog & de Meuron's Laban Centre - the dance studio in Deptford, south London. 'But because of their use of colour they overcame many of the problems of City Hall, ' said Cave.

Foster and Partners refused to comment, insisting it was unable to obtain a copy of Access by Design.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters