Azari Mat Yasir has been teaching architecture at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia for 18 years now. Throughout this time, one particular problem kept bugging him and Azari just couldn’t ignore it any longer. Property developers have been cutting corners on accessibility, making everyday life for people with special needs way harder than they could be. Moreover, the authorities in the country have been turning a blind eye to what’s happening. So, the lecturer decided to take matters into his own hands, creating a series of illustrations depicting these struggles that shouldn’t even exist in the first place.
“As architects, we are trained to fulfill the needs of the end user,” Azari told Bored Panda. “However, accessibility needs are almost never a priority in Malaysia, apart from special needs buildings like hospitals. Most architectural programs offered at local universities don’t even emphasize on special needs, or more known as Universal Design, my university included.”
In an attempt to increase awareness amongst his students, Azari started sketching some of the issues. “It was after I shared my drawings on Facebook that they gained traction. Now I’m also advocating for universal design in architectural schools in Malaysia, mainly to get it implemented at least by a lecture or two if not become a full subject of its own.”
“On this side of the world, our life expectancy used to be low, barely reaching 60 years,” Azari explained. “So most people would pass before they reached an age where disability becomes much more possible. As a result, Malaysian buildings built in the 70s and 80s never really considered universal design. But nowadays, our life expectancy has increased to over 70 years, yet the mindset has not changed. Buildings still follow regulations which were set in the 70s.”
“Of course, to change something that is not easy. But many groups are now moving in tandem to create awareness by engaging the politicians, property developers and other invested parties. And I’m merely contributing in academia, creating awareness amongst young architects so they would be ready to tackle universal design issues in the future as well.”