Guimaraes on Holarchies and Universal Design FICCDAT 2011
HOLARCHIES FOR BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN AS A SOCIALLY INCLUSIVE FACTOR Marcelo Pinto Guimarães Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais - Laboratório ADAPTSE ABSTRACT is a flow  between essence and significance that may vary according to the perspective an Applying the „universal design‟ concept observer may adopt to consider recognizing aeffectively involves deeper understanding of a pair or more of hierarchical holons.complex philosophical approach to humancultural values, attitudes and behavior through This paper contains some consideration aboutdesign practice. This paper suggests that the the structure of relationships between humanconcept of universal design can be explained in oriented design principles, which is based onthe context of holarchies: a holistic hierarchical holarchies and may explain the links ofstructure of major dimensions that address important concepts such as autonomy, personalsocial inclusion of all, and particularly, of people space, universal design, accessibility and sociallywho experience disability as result of mobility inclusive practices.and wayfinding problems in built environments.Sample holarchies were organized as follows: DIALECTIC AND HOLISTIC PERSPECTIVES(a) the holarchy of human logical order, (b) the ABOUT HUMAN CENTERED DESIGNholarchy of human social groups, (c) theholarchy of human environment fit and (d) the Through dualistic thinking processes, theholarchy of socially inclusive design. The aim of essence of understanding is due to analysis,the approach is to illustrate the holistic nature of which is breaking the whole in its constituentuniversal design from the cross-combinations in parts. As we understand each part and the jointshierarchical structure of complementary one makes with others, we progress through anperspectives. opposing synthesis process; that is, of reconstruction of the whole. We may even INTRODUCTION develop synthesis that creates other wholes, all different from the original, built by parts whose A holarchy is a term coined by Koestler  relationships are strong enough to assume newthat refers to a hierarchy of holons. A holon is a forms.„phenomenon‟ or „particle‟ that is a whole initself and it is nested in larger wholes; this This sort of thinking process occurs mostly insystem of multiple hierarchies of holons causes the Western world  through a linear, plain,mutual influences between them. Consider, for dualistic Cartesian mode of reasoning. Everyday,instance, a drop of water and an ocean as we define ourselves through linear thinking thatholons. Both of these concepts include H 20 is based on exclusion. This exclusion sets the(another holon); however, we cannot say, limits of the fragmented universe.simply, that a drop of water is just part of anocean since for its own characteristic the water Understanding a new logic for sociallydrop makes itself an unique concept as a whole. inclusive practices is needed for everyone toOne could even say in respect of distinct scales share accessibility provisions on similar grounds,to the intertwined nature of both that an entire instead of few people integrating limitedocean can be found in a single drop of water. accessibility into their life experiences only. InTherefore, the holon named here as „water drop‟ spite of sensible progress worldwide for fullcan be structured in a hierarchical relationship compliance with legislation and technicalof holarchy that also includes the holon standards for accessibility, many built structuresunderstood as „ocean.‟ In such a holarchy, there still preserve certain indication that the
accessibility features are there to assist only The proposition here is that we maycertain target types of users who experience understand holarchies related to Universaldisability permanently... Design easily by visualizing them through a metaphoric representation of holarchy A holistic approach to human-centered design dimensions in a flat configuration of waves inpractice seems to be necessary for architecture ellipses. Let‟s consider such ellipses thatand design professionals to understand and expand, some inside of others in ways that eachapply the full meaning of universal design one is an essential whole, and each wholeconcept. „Universal design‟ should not become embraces and connects with other wholes up toanother sexy label within certain culture only by the significance of the outer wholes. Applyingwhich we could identify a specific product, this analogy in the realm of universal designobject, equipment or functional element out of applications, we may examine interactionsthe context for usage of built environments and among different dimensions whose holisticinformation systems. The overall understanding nature is structured by holarchies , as everyof the idea about universal design may become holon embraces other holons. They grant us ajust a fragment of the original concept  that is wider view of factors that might constitute thebest translated here as “the approach to good nature of an inclusive society as a whole:design that responds to uncommon abilities andaging without relying on specialized andsegregated solutions,” or “the designing processfor human-centered satisfactory performanceand socialization in built environments.” 1 2 3 4 5 6 The universal design concept can be wellunderstood by application of general principlesand design guidelines as long as such principlesare well intertwined with other aspects of good 1- concept, idea, insightdesign practice. That reaches everyone beyond 2- fact 3- mechanismknowledge measured by standard requirements 4- modelof regulations and human factors methodology. 5- network 6- system ENVISIONING HOLARCHIES OF Figure 1: Suggested illustration for the holarchy UNIVERSAL DESIGN of human logical order According to Wilber  and Alexander , wemay consider that, a structure is just a stable In the context of the human logical order, thepattern of events. However, structural holistic baseline of a holarchy can be represented by ourpatterns may behave erratic depending on the ideas and insights that format „concepts‟ andstandpoint in multiple perspectives. The help us make something becomes real.horizontal and vertical configuration ofrelationships among holons varies according to The concept, idea or insight are a pure mindcontext, the intent and the attention of the one energy that needs to be molded by itswho studies them. relationships with the external context (fact or expression). By means of mechanisms, models In holistic thinking processes, analytical and the network of interconnections with otherbreaking points that separate contextual factors concepts, ideas debate those preceeding themdo not seem to exist, and as result, there are and flow up to make sense as a coherentnot parts that lack coherence and seem empty, system. We may understand a new systemmeaningless as detached from the whole. Thus, exists only as we recognize that a ´new conceptinstead of parts, the holistic universe is has becomes well accepted in different minds asorganized in inclusive layers of interactions is fact or expression, and that turns such idea,that form holarchy structures. In such plausible, and the experience, shared. We maystructures, a single holon (whole) transcends recognize mechanism as the means sharedbut includes other wholes from where it stands, ideas that became facts have acquiredjust as colors of the rainbow do . operational dimensions through procedures.
Mechanisms are at the basis of models, simple individuals (with apparent disabilities or not),representations of complex reality, which in turn their tribes, families and communities.expand to form cultural „networks.‟ Whennetworks are intertwined to the point of 1- autonomy, independence, spontaneityjustifying each other´s existence, then we have 2- privacy 3- accessibilitythe whole set as the system. 4- liberty 5- solidarity The holarchy in the context of social role 6- equal opportunitymodelling indicates that human population is notsimply a gross collection of people, but a system Figure 3: Suggested illustration for the holarchywhere an individual finds references to identify of human-environment fithimself or herself. In the holarchy of human contextual action in built environments, the accessibility dimension only appears beyond autonomy, independence and spontaneity. Those essential holons allow 1 2 3 4 5 6 individuals to control time and spatial conditions for interaction: privacy. Poor acessibility exists despite „privacy‟ and it means lack of one´s basic operational resources. Individual social 1- body, mind. spirit experiences of accessibility among neighbors 2- person establish the mutual recognition of „liberty.‟ 3- tribe Otherwise, it may become oppression, 4- family segregation and intrusion. The shared liberty 5- community may grow into solidarity and that results in 6- population same opportunities for everybody. We cannot talk about equal opportunities if essentialFigure 2: Suggested illustration for the holarchy notions of autonomy, independence and of human social groups spontaneity are simply not present. We may The essence of an individual is at the primary not understand well the notion of libertyholon as a intertwined mix of body, mind and without considering solidarity as better andspirit. Every individual finds reflections of the more comprehensive happiness. In the sameself in other individuals images inside each way, we cannot practice solidarity withoutmind. As those images are tuned to reinforce a respects to one´s privacy. Liberty equals to theparticular identity, that forms tribes or groups largest value in some cultures. Nevertheless,of individuals with similar values. Each individual since an inter-cultural approach should prevail,or tribe borrow power and support from family, solidariety must be recurrent and continuous.that is a transcendent holon defining the senseof place or origin for all of us. As many „Universal design‟ may be regarded in aindividuals live in harmony with the core self, holarchy structure that approaches socialthat reinforces distinct tribes and families to be inclusion through design as the mostin peace; they act with other holons and live comprehensive dimension. The core holontogether to form communities as wholes. A includes a combination of „assistive technology,‟population is, by its turn, the widest holon by „technical assistance‟ and „inclusive practices.‟expansion of communities that lean on Those are specialized essential tools. They aremutually in local contexts of neighborhood, or in customized for someone to get personalwider grounds of regions and nations. adjustments and cope with barriers in built environments. „Adapted design‟ is at outer holon Individuals are at the baseline of populations. due to (poor) attempts of intervention in socialDesign solutions cannot function well for spaces that were originally constructed withoutcommunities and populations if they do not taking special user needs into consideration.address first the distinct needs of every „Adaptable design‟ adds some flexibility intoindividual, or do not strenghten ties between adapted design but it does not empower users to make changes in environmental configuration
as needed. „Standards for accessibility‟ provides distinct points of view of multiple lineargreater reliability of scattered pattern solutions reasoning, and we make them becomebut they are too strict to accommodate users´ meaningful through unprecedented multi-functional diversity of human conditions and dimensional perception.abilities. „Adequate design‟ may incorporate all The holistic perspective may become clearerknown resources into a meaningful solution, but due to context, consensus and knowledge. It isthat may lack conceptual goals of making ideas by understanding the wealth of contextualfruitful and marketable for future generations. factors that complexity becomes easy and seems simple. The global view of things defines the context in which they may happen. If we dont face certain problems along with possible 1 2 3 4 5 6 factors that build their complexity, then we may realize that envisioned solutions will loose strength and validity over time. Consensus means respect for the value of exploring unique contributions of distinct perspectives despite 1- assistive technology, technical assistance and such contributions coming from the most inclusive practices vulnerable people. Before we think of reaching 2- adapted design progress up to a certain standpoint we ought to 3- adaptable design consider achieving goals collectively. Finally, 4- standards for accessibility knowledge guarantees mutual respect to those 5- adequate design involved in the consensus making process. More 6- universal design than simple flow of information throughFigure 4: Suggested illustration for the holarchy absorption and ties, knowledge enriches each of socially inclusive design factors one of the people involved with clear understanding about the different points of view DISCUSSION that best portrays the global context. Knowledge The universal design factors should be viewed replaces stigma and foster agreements aboutthrough holarchies in which it may be both improvements that can be made in the fitcause and consequence of users‟ experience in relationship between humans and builtinnovative structures for environments and environments. No matter how much delay,information that aim at providing equal meaningful results can be accomplished andopportunities for everyone. Universal design preserved through generations.might become a system of omnipresent, discreet ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSand inspirational ideas as reference of maximumquality for built structures and information FAPEMIG – Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa de Minas Geraisnetworks. It implies the cultural interface that CAPES - Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal deexists between design professionals and all Nível Superior / NPGAU - Núcleo de Pós-Graduação EAUFMGexpert users as the only representation possiblefor addressing the needs of the general REFERENCESpopulation. We may transcend the lowest level  A. Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine. Penguinof concrete operational aspects of this concept reprint 1990: ISBN 0-14-019192-5. 1967towards the paradigm of constructivism, in  K. Wilber, Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit,which truth is accepted as result of multiple Psychology, Therapy. ISBN 1-57062-554-9. 2004minds that share values and experiences.  R. Nisbett. The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why. New York: However, solutions based on discreet, efficient Freepress. 2004  R. Mace, Universal Design, Barrier-free Environmentsand coherent measures will be consolidated in for Everyone. Los Angeles, CA: Designers West. 1985cycles through wide continuous processes. This  C. Alexander. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings,will align multiple influences of problem related Construction. Oxford University Press, USA, 1216. 1977factors that may be situated in distant sources.  M.P. Guimarães, “Uma Abordagem Holística na Prática do Design Universal” (a holistic approach in UniversalAs we approach problematic issues through a Design practice) In Avanços e Desafios na Construçãoholistic rational, we may see the juxtaposition of de uma Sociedade Inclusiva. R. Correa (edt). Belo Horizonte: PUC-MG, 2008. Pp 88-104