Cassidy, or how we like to call her, Cass, is an Interior Design graduation candidate from the 2020 class, with a love for creative spaces that spark interest with their users. Her passion for design has sprung from a line of creatives and has inspired Cass to combine her desire for function and art into practice. She is fascinated with the psychological impacts that the built environment can have on the people within it, and how designers can use their knowledge to improve those experiences.
The Union is a 100% wheelchair accessible live performance centre, located in the heart of Vancouver. After thorough research of venues in the area, we noticed that wheelchair accessible seating within seated live performance venues was very low, about 1 to every 160 able-bodied seats. We were focused on the motto that “live music was supposed to be unifying”, and this number definitely was not. So, in The Union, you will find that every space is designed with not only wheelchair users at the forefront, but also those with various physical limitations.
There is a central ramp that has access to all five levels of the performance centre, creating unity and ensuring equal use for all. There is also custom seating and countertops that have been modified to accommodate these users, while also giving options for people who do not need these adjustments. Our seated theatre holds 160 fixed seats that, with the implementation of a convertible seating system, allow wheelchair users to choose any seat they desire while allowing their companion, regardless of their ability, to sit beside them. By making these users our focal target group, accessible design was not an afterthought but took centre stage instead.