On 17 March of this year, the eighth Passwerk Award for 2020 was awarded to Elise Tackx for her master thesis “Student life on the autism spectrum: How the built and social environment affect the experience of living in a student accommodation”. Elise graduated with a Master of Science in Engineering: Architecture.
The master thesis
Her master thesis examined what it is like for students with autism living in group accommodations (together with others). She did this based on an extensive literature study and participative research. People with autism often find dealing with interactions in the built-up and social environment challenging. Her research shows that they are strongly connected to each other, especially in student housing. This has an impact on the students' (with autism) experience. Her master thesis gives insight into how three students with autism (one male, two females) experience living in student accommodations. Their various experiences are summarised in four different aspects of living in student accommodations: independence, (not) feeling at home, shared versus individual rooms and being able to relax and avoid stress. The results of this study can be used in designing, building and using autism-friendly student housing. Moreover, by taking her findings into account, improvements to existing accommodations can already be made. Inclusive designs, building and living, where a comfortable physical and social environment are guaranteed, offers added value to every student.
This year the jury consisted of:
Prof Jan Cools (Research Council Chairman, KU Leuven)
Prof Ilse Noens (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven)
Nico De Cleen (Passwerk)
Yolande Pacco (Passwerk)
The jury praised the participative character of the study as well as the very personal content and creativity. The jury members also valued the potential impact the findings of this master thesis could have in practice in the mid- to long-term.
You can download Elise’s complete thesis below (Dutch).
Winner Passwerk Prize