Tanisha Cowell’s passion is centred in designing attractive, functional, and healthy spaces that support well-being. MELANIE BASTA speaks to Tanisha about a day in her life as a disability access consultant.
‘Biophilic’ design isn’t a concept you would come across every day, but ensuring building occupants are attuned to the natural world is a part of Tanisha’s strong interest in accessible buildings. She believes this approach should be the foundation of all built environments.
With a background in occupational therapy and placements in community and mental health care, Tanisha brings a particularly empathetic eye to the building world.
Here is Tanisha’s average day…
Check in to the office, read emails and chat with the team about the different projects in progress.
Attend a design meeting with architects and project managers to discuss disability access provisions for a new yacht club.
Come back in the office to begin a performance solution report to meet building access codes.
Conduct a disability access audit on an existing building changing its use into a restaurant.
Return client phone calls during the drive home.
BB: How did you get to your position today?
Tanisha: I have always had a strong interest in architecture, however I pursued a career via occupational therapy instead, as it felt more ‘meaningful’. I found a way to combine my love of built environments and a purposeful career in health by becoming a disability access consultant. From here, I intend to complete additional study in interior design, to further expand my skills.
BB: What is the most challenging thing about your role?
Tanisha: As an occupational therapist, the function of design is my priority. However, often that conflicts with the goals of other project stakeholders. For architects, aesthetics and form are often held in high regard. For managers, budget constraints are at top of their lists. A successful project considers these aspects whilst also making a building functional for the widest range of users possible. It requires strong negotiation skills and an ability to communicate effectively.
BB: What is your best piece of advice for builders working on projects with disability access requirements?
Tanisha: Engage with a disability access consultant at the earliest stage possible in the design process. We can best assist from concept stage to empower builders and developers to incorporate universal design features. This will create a seamless, well-considered design useable by all people, not just those with disability. It will also save on financial resources, by avoiding future reconstruction.
Image supplied by Tanisha Cowell.