The RIBA and Bespoke Hotels have once again launched a £30,000 contest – judged by Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson – seeking ideas to revolutionise the quality of hotel experiences for disabled people
Now in its second year and still open to all applicants – the Bespoke Access Awards seeks ‘imaginative, innovative and potentially realisable’ proposals to improve hotel access for disabled people – including those with learning difficulties – and other guests worldwide.
Concepts which challenge existing ‘joyless, poorly-designed and over-medicalised’ preconceptions of disability-friendly hotel facilities are required. This year’s categories include architecture, product design, service applications (digital), service applications (training), and inclusive employment.
The overall winner will receive the £20,000 Celia Thomas Prize. Named after peer and disability rights campaigner Celia Thomas – who has limb girdle muscular dystrophy – the prize is thought to be the UK’s largest for a design concept.
Penny Mourdant, MP and minister of state for disabled people, health and work said: ‘Disabled customers and clients should have the same quality of experience as anyone else, whether they are travelling, shopping or staying in a hotel.
‘It’s brilliant to see the Bespoke Access Awards enter their second year and continue to build momentum for meaningful change within the hotel sector. Events like this send a clear message about the importance of improving access to products and services, as well as driving equality of opportunity for disabled people everywhere.’
The contest is open internationally to everyone with applications from designers and architects with disabilities strongly encouraged along with collaborations between people with disabilities and design professionals.
Contest judges include Grey-Thompson – who was born with spina bifida, has won 16 Paralympic medals and whose interest in design was fostered by her architect father – along with the awards’ patron Celia Thomas.
Bespoke Hotels chair Robin Sheppard – who previously suffered from Guillain Barre Syndrome – and wheelchair user Alan Stanton of 2012 Stirling Prize-winners Stanton Williams are also on the judging panel.
Sheppard said: ‘We are delighted to be continuing to lead the charge in making our industry more accessible, both in terms of the design and physical nature of its buildings, as well as the education and attitude of our staff.
‘We continue to embrace the challenge of addressing the issues that affect the delivery of outstanding service for all guests, while building on the outstanding calibre of competition entrants to date and offering inspiration to the industry worldwide.’
Ryder Architecture and accessible bathroom manufacturer Motionspot won last year’s competition with the ‘AllGo’ scheme (pictured), featuring a universal approach to hotel room design ensuring all spaces are functional, flexible, accessible and well-designed.
The winners will be announced at a prize-giving ceremony on 18 April 2018. The deadline for applications has been extended to 27 February.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information