Adelaide Mackintosh

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MA Architecture ’18

There is an oral test for dyslexia I was once given by a psychologist. The test consisted of a speed round of word associations. When he said a word I had to state its pair as quickly as possible. For example, when he said peanut butter, I was probably supposed to say jelly, but instead I said bananas. Who doesn’t love a peanut butter and banana sandwich?

My learning disabilities make some things quite hard. I struggle to memorize lines or names, but never faces or places. When it comes to visualization I can remember everything about a place I’ve been to or an image I’ve seen. When drawing, I picture everything in my head. When I build models, I see myself walking through them. I design spaces based on the imagined viewpoints I visualize. My dyslexia might make it hard for me to stay focused on reading, but it has given me the ability to be present in my spatial imagination. Because of this I see being abled differently as an asset.

Growing up with severe learning disabilities I found comfort in artistic expression. I put all my energy into figure skating when school was not my strength. In my first studio at RISD I was tasked with designing a space for ritual; I designed a space for a figure skater. As I created the space, I visualized the view from the skater’s perspective. I sometimes have a difficult time articulating how I see the world, but I have a strong ability to visualize how the body moves through it. With that I am able to focus on designing spaces based on human interaction. I see this as a gift that I can continue to develop in my future practice.