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RIBA opens £30k accessible hotels ideas contest

Bespoke Access Awards
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The RIBA and Bespoke Hotels have announced a £30,000 contest – judged by Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson – seeking ideas to revolutionise the quality of hotel experiences for disabled people

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 – worldwide.

Concepts which challenge existing ‘joyless, poorly-designed and over-medicalised’ preconceptions of disability-friendly hotel facilities are required.

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.

Richard Rogers – who is backing the high-profile contest which was launched in the House of Lords last week (14 April) – commented: ‘I am delighted to support this worthwhile and timely design competition.

‘The needs of disabled people should be celebrated by designers (some of whom have disabilities), rather than seen as merely satisfying Building Regulations.’

He continued: ‘We need to imagine what a more joyful experience for disabled people could look like and articulate it in better architecture, product design and service design.’

Grey-Thompson – who was born with spina bifida and has won 16 Paralympic medals – said: ‘I have travelled the world, I have had experience of how poor design standards in some hotels can affect how you feel – not only about staying but also about the whole experience.’

She continued: ‘The industry needs to do better but it can never just be about technical standards. Great architecture is about spaces that make you feel better and which make you want to return.’

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.

The winners will be announced on 1 December at an event in the Palace of Westminster. An additional £10,000 worth of awards will also be given out along with the £20,000 Celia Thomas Prize.

The deadline for entries is 1 September.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

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