The Funnel by Annie Hayes and Aya Kousa

The Texas School for the Blind and Physically Impaired in Austin, Texas serves students ages 6 to 22 with a spectrum of visual and physical impairments. The campus acts as a guarded safe haven for students to learn how to navigate the world. In constructing a protected environment for students to experience life without fear, the school has become somewhat isolated from the surrounding community, generating a stark demarcation at the edge of the campus from the unpredictable, overwhelming, and noisy world.

The Funnel is a complex of three buildings located at the corner of 45th Street and Burnet Road that serves as an extension for the TSBVI. The complex consists of an apartment building for exit students and faculty who are unable to afford the rising rent of the nearby neighborhoods, an eatery that aims to invite the outside community in, and a maker space and office building that serves the public and TSBVI students and employees. The Funnel aims to dissolve the existing jarring demarcation at the edge of the campus by creating an intentionally inviting project so that students preparing to journey away from the security of campus learn how to connect with their locale.

The project aims to connect groups of people who do not typically interact. To accomplish these goals, the proposal is designed using an underlying rational, organizational system that aids in comprehensible navigation, enabling autonomy for low-vision and blind users. Simultaneously, sophisticated playful exceptions are deployed throughout the project, engaging multiple senses so as to institute a stimulating environment and avoid the monotony a strictly rational approach can have.

Fall 2021 Design Excellence Award Winner

Annie Hayes and Aya Kousa
Comprehensive Design Studio
Instructors: T. Andrew Stone and Claire Townley