chapter  2
20 Pages

The Body, Disability and Le Corbusier’s Conception of the Radiant Environment

WithROB IMRIE

One of the critical contexts for the perpetuation and reproduction of social inequalities is the built environment (Crowe 1995; Knox 1987; Laws 1994a, 1994b). For disabled people in particular, the built environment is often encountered as a series of hostile, exclusive and oppressive spaces. Examples abound of discriminatory architectural design, including steps into shops and public buildings, inaccessible transport, and the absence of colour coding and induction loops. Indeed, most housing in the United Kingdom is not wheelchair accessible, yet for the House Builders Federation (1995) this is barely an issue.1 As they state, ‘if a disabled person visits a homeowner, it is to be expected that they can be assisted over the threshold’ (HBF 1995:1). Moreover, in the 1997 British general election, 75 per cent of polling offices were inaccessible to people in wheelchairs, while few contained the technical aids to permit visually impaired and/or blind people to mark their vote on the polling papers. In Lefevre’s (1968) terms, such representations of space project the dominant values of specific body-types, that is, the ‘able-bodied’, or bodies characterised by a ‘statically balanced symmetrical figure with well defined limbs and muscles’ (McAnulty 1992:181).