Project: Modular Wheelchair
Client: Disrupt Disability
Design Team: Salomé Bazin, Gareth Ladley
Partners: Steve Cox, Batch.Works, Fish Fabrications
Can a wheelchair be adapted to each and everyone’s unique needs?
Design and engineer the first set of modules for everyday use.
Wheelchairs need to be customised to the body, lifestyle and environment of their user but their needs are continuously changing. How can a wheelchair be continuously customised? What about customisation for style?
This is a question the start up Disrupt Disability is trying to answer with their innovative modular wheelchair system : How could we change the way wheelchairs are designed so that they can become fashionable, and help express their users personality and style? The start up has developed a system which would allow for various parts to be selected and fabricated according to every person’s unique need and style.As a result, the system creates the potential for an infinitely evolving product that evolves to changing user fashions and functional requirements over time.
Cellule were commissioned to design, engineer and fabricate the first set of wheelchair modules for everyday use compatible with the modular system. We took a collaborative approach to the project, working closely with wheelchair users and refining concepts with wheelchair fabricators.
The frame has a minimalist aesthetic where possible and is concealed by the body of the user helping people to see the person not the wheelchair. The 3d printed seat takes inspiration from shape in nature and forms of the body creating an elegant wheelchair adapted to the body. These aesthetic decisions were strongly joined with the wheelchair’s functionality, following a strict brief of ergonomics and functional requirements, defined by both the user and fabricators.
Following a hybrid manufacturing method, the modules can be adapted to the individual user’s body, posture and positioning needs and can fabricated by small local manufacturing facilities.
The project journey encompassed a wide and dynamic research process that included hackathons with wheelchair users, manufacturers, digital fabrication specialists and engineers. The concept for a motorised modular system was also developed as part of the project.
Partners: Batch.Works, Fish Fabrications , Draft wheelchair
With thanks: Ian Legrand (Whizz Kidz), Jon Hirons, Dylan Bahnan, Clare Grey (The Shaw Trust), Christina Lee, Jayne Pye, Machines Room Makerspace, Steve Cox, Paul Sherratt, Konstantinos Sirlantzis (Kent University)