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London Build

London Build

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Rob Hayles

Rob Hayles

Health and Built Environment Lead, Citizens with Experience Ltd

I am a construction specialist who graduated in 1981 with neurodiversity and PTSD and had to fit in to the culture at that time until I couldn't. I found solace in lone working and loved being a high-rise surveyor in a small team that understood and did not judge. There were other roles and employers that understood but the constraints of cost, margins, and a culture of ‘build and they will come’ took away my interest and worth to construction for good. My PTSD was gained and reinforced whilst working on sites and I was given a Fellowship within the NIHR to look at how I recovered and coped. This led to research into neuroarchitecture, biophilic design, using extended reality, and the use of new methods to create psychological safe spaces. I have developed methods for auditing places for psychological safety as we used to do for physical issues, and we are developing a model for it’s use in adapting current spaces and building new ones. By using extended reality visualisations and CAD we can create places that can be tested and augmented for greater emotional connections as well as cognitive and sensory wellbeing. My hidden disabilities are leading me on a path not well trodden but vital to me, others with similar issues. and all users of the built environments we create and inhabit for ourselves and others.

Statement:

As a construction specialist with hidden disabilities, I have lived experience of how the culture affects the working life and impacts the home life from trying to fit in and avoid the stigma; so much so I had to leave the industry and focus on how the built environment creates and shapes our mental health. Now I recognise that the culture of generative design reinforces the culture in the industry, and we need change in both to support the mental health of the users of what we create and those who create it. Those with hidden disabilities and inabilities are not to be feared but seen as an increased in diversity that brings better understanding and abilities for all.