The 2017/18 Bespoke Access Awards

Bespoke Access Awards 2017/18 Opens for Entries
International design competition for fully accessible hotel rooms,
with a prize fund of £30,000, launches second year

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), in association with Bespoke Hotels, launches the Bespoke Access Awards today (26 September 2017).

The Awards are an international competition to design fully accessible hotel rooms, to continue improving access to properties worldwide for disabled people, including those with learning difficulties, as well as all other guests. The Awards aim to challenge the perception of hotel facilities set aside for disabled people, which can often be viewed as
joyless, poorly-designed and over-medicalised.

The Bespoke Access Awards were established in 2016 and were the first awards of their kind. In their opening year, teams of designers from countries as far afield as Hong Kong, Russia and Canada submit entries across a range of categories. The overall winners, awarded the Celia Thomas Prize worth £20,000, were Motionspot & Ryder Architecture, who devised ‘AllGo’, a unique, universalised approach to hotel room design system to ensure that all hotel rooms are functional, flexible and accessible.

Ed Warner, Founder & Managing Director of Motionspot Ltd said:
"The Bespoke Access awards provided the ideal platform for Motionspot and Ryder Architecture to challenge the perceptions that often surround accessible design. Over 40 people with different disabilities contributed to our focus groups to help us understand the main problems they faced when staying in accessible hotel rooms. Their stories inspired our winning design concept, which has subsequently received interest from hotels around the world, with many of the concepts now being adopted by properties across the UK.”

“Our winning concept, named 'AllGo', has reinforced our belief that no one travelling with a disability should have to face poor quality facilities or lacklustre design. I encourage other designers to take up the mantle this year and embrace the fantastic opportunity that then 2017/18 Access Award presents. It is a chance to think creatively and help to generate more inspirational accessible hotel design concepts of the future.” 

Competition scope:
The scope of the competition has been broadened for its second year to cover five strands of inclusive design: Architecture, Product Design, Service Applications (digital), Service Applications (training), and Inclusive Employment.

Prizes will be awarded for the most imaginative, innovative and potentially realisable ideas in any or all of these strands,, with the overall winner of the Celia Thomas Prize will receiving £20,000. The competition will reward entrants who address guests’ experience from the front door to any room or service within a hotel; and includes the process that has to be undertaken before a visitor arrives, or during check out.

The Paralympic Gold Medalist and Peer Baroness Grey-Thompson, whose interest in design was fostered by her father, a professional architect, will judge the competition, together with the distinguished architect Alan Stanton, winner of the 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture.

Alongside them will be Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels and Hotel Sector Champion for Disabled People; Baroness Celia Thomas, Patron of the Access Awards Graeme K Whipper MBE, Disability Specialist for Channel 4; Alastair Hignall CBE, Trustee of the Leonard Cheshire Foundation; Sarah Weird OBE, Chief Executive of Design
Council; and Paul Gregory, MCIBSE, MSLL, Global Specification Director for Dyson.

Penny Mourdant said:
“Disabled customers and clients should have the same quality of experience as anyone else, whether they are travelling, shopping or staying in a hotel.” “It’s brilliant to see the Bespoke Access Awards enter their second year and continue to build momentum for meaningful change within the hotel sector. Events like this send a clear message about the importance of improving access to products and services, as well as driving equality of opportunity for disabled people everywhere.”

The competition is open until 8 January2018. Winners will be announced at a prize-giving ceremony on 18 April 2018. Entries are open internationally to everyone. The organisers particularly welcome entries from designers and architects with disabilities themselves. Collaboration between people with disabilities and design professionals is also encouraged, as is collaboration amongst design disciplines.

Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels and Hotel Sector Champion for
Disabled People, said:
”We are delighted to be continuing to lead the charge in making our industry more accessible, both in terms of the design and physical nature of its buildings, as well as the education and attitude of our staff.” “We continue to embrace the challenge of addressing the issues that affect the delivery of outstanding service for all guests, while building on the outstanding calibre of competition entrants to date and offering inspiration to the industry worldwide.” The Bespoke Access Awards have been developed with the generous support of The Federated Foundation, Bespoke Hotels, the Design Council, Leonard Cheshire Foundation.

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