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Symmetry and Dignity: Ramping done right at Keystone Adelaide

At Keystone Adelaide, we are committed to preserving the architectural integrity and historical significance of our buildings while ensuring accessibility for all. One of the key elements of our recent project has been the design and implementation of disability ramps at the Grand Lodge on North Terrace. This blog post delves into the importance of symmetry in Freemasonry, the dignity of equal access for the disabled, and the practical benefits of our dual-ramp design.


The Importance of Symmetry in Freemasonry

Symmetry is a cornerstone of Freemasonry, symbolizing balance, harmony, and a "glimpse into the infinite." For over 300 years, this principle has been integral to the design and philosophy of Freemason buildings. The Grand Lodge on North Terrace is no exception. The double ramp design not only reinforces the theme of symmetry that underpins the Lodge's architecture but also ensures that the building retains its historical and aesthetic integrity.

The use of bronze balustrades in the ramp design further grounds the building, reflecting the bronze accents throughout the façade. This careful attention to detail ensures that the new ramps blend seamlessly with the existing structure, maintaining the Lodge's majestic and symmetrical appearance.



Dignity and Equal Access for the Disabled

The board and consulting teams believe that accessibility should never be an afterthought. The dignity of individuals with disabilities is paramount, and this means providing access that is equal and fair. A single ramp on one side of the building would not only disrupt the careful symmetry of the Grand Lodge but also send a message that fair access is less important or secondary. This is a notion we strongly reject.

By implementing dual ramps, we ensure that individuals with disabilities are seen as equals, with access that is just as dignified and prominent as that of any other visitor. This design choice as well as countless others throughout the building reflects our commitment to look beyond Australian Design Standards to create considered, respectful and inclusive design for everyone.


Rejected Design


Practical Benefits of Dual Ramps

In addition to preserving symmetry and ensuring dignity, the dual-ramp design offers practical benefits. One significant advantage is the ability to queue groups, such as visiting students or large parties for special events, outside and off the footpath. This arrangement prevents any interruption to disability access, ensuring that everyone can enter the building smoothly and without delay.

The ramps are designed to be compliant with statutory requirements, providing a safe and equitable means of access. The bronze balustrades, located behind the primary portion of the wrought iron fencing, retain the principal elevation of the building while offering a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing support structure.



The Burra Charter

The Burra Charter is a set of guidelines named after Burra in South Australia, where the document was first adopted in 1979. This charter is adopted by Australia ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) for the conservation and management of places of cultural significance. It provides a best-practice standard for managing cultural heritage in Australia and is widely respected and used by heritage professionals.


Minimal Change to Significant Fabric

According to the Burra Charter, any new use of a place should involve minimal change to significant fabric and respect the associations and meanings of the place. Our dual-ramp design adheres to this principle by integrating seamlessly with the existing structure, using materials like bronze balustrades that complement the building's original aesthetic. This approach ensures that the historical and architectural integrity of the Grand Lodge remains intact.


Respecting Cultural Significance

The Burra Charter emphasizes the importance of maintaining the cultural significance of a place. By opting for a dual-ramp design, we preserve the building's symmetrical appearance, which is a key element of its cultural and historical value, especially within the context of Freemasonry. This design choice reflects our commitment to respecting and enhancing the cultural significance of the Grand Lodge.


Inclusive and Equitable Access

The Charter advocates for the dignity and equal treatment of all individuals. Our design ensures that individuals with disabilities have access that is just as dignified and prominent as that of any other visitor. This aligns with the Charter's principles of inclusivity and respect for all, reinforcing the notion that accessibility should never be an afterthought.


Sensational Suggestions

The Sensational Adelaide Forum, a vibrant community of individuals passionate about the building sector in South Australia, provided valuable feedback on the color of the Grand Lodge building as seen in real life versus the initial renders. Their insights prompted the design team to carefully consider the materials and finishes to be used and mapped them on to real photos rather than renders to evaluate the interaction between old and new. These small but valuable contributions ensure the final appearance meets expectations and enhances the building's aesthetic appeal. This collaborative effort underscores the truly public nature of the project, reflecting a collective commitment to creating a space that resonates with and is appreciated by the broader community.



Conclusion

Disability ramps at Keystone Adelaide's Grand Lodge might seem like a small thing but our team are dedicated to preserving historical integrity, embracing the principles of Freemasonry, and ensuring equal access for all. This project reflects our ongoing commitment to creating inclusive, respectful, and harmonious spaces for everyone with thanks to all those who contribute.

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Fantastic work mic. In my personal opinion I would rather leave the front facade alone and not go ahead with the disabled ramps, but I understand its compulsory ramps need to go somewhere and you and the team would know best in this area. Hope it all goes well, on to the hearing! Cheers.

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