Tactile Paving Slab thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Design 1900 to Now, Room 74

Tactile Paving Slab

Tile
ca. 1965 (designed), 2016 (manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Seiichi Miyake was a Japanese inventor who in the 1960s worked to develop systems that would improve the safety of the visually impaired as they navigated the city. In particular, he was interested in developing directional cues that could help people understand when they were approaching a potentially dangerous or trafficked area, such as busy intersections or the edge of a train platform.

In 1965, he invented the ‘braille block’, the first set of tactile paving tiles, which would eventually be adopted around the world as a way of aiding navigation for the visually impaired. These tactile paving tiles, or ‘Tenji blocks’ as they are a known in Japan, consisted of tiles with raised lines or domes (sometimes truncated) which are used predominately as ground surface indicators to aid blind and visually impaired pedestrians to stop and navigate crosswalks. The raised line pattern indicates a safe path along which a person can walk, while the dome pattern indicates that the person should stop. It was also decided to colour the tiles yellow so that they could also aid the partially blind.

In 1975, all Japan Railway platforms were modified to include these tactile surfaces and in the following years its use spread to cities and government buildings across Japan. Eventually, similar systems were adopted worldwide. It was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1990. The United States also picked up the standard in the early 1990s, after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This tile is a contemporary version of Miyake’s 1965 design, which was produced in 2016 by the company he founded in 1974. It is made of polyurethane as opposed to the original cast-cement version.

This tile was acquired as part of the Shekou Project, an international partnership between the V&A and China Merchant Shekou Holdings (CMSK) to open a new cultural platform called Design Society in Shekou. The tile was included in the inaugural exhibition, ‘Values of Design’, in the V&A Gallery at Design Society in a section looking at the design issue of improving the lives of those with disabilities.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
Tactile paving slab designed by Seiichi Miyake ca.1965
Physical Description
A yellow square tile made from polyurethane with raised domes evenly spaced apart in a grid pattern.
Dimensions
  • Length: 30cm
  • Width: 30cm
  • Depth: 2cm
Gallery Label
  • Design to inform and instruct Street furniture gives us clues about how to behave in the city. Tactile paving slabs, also known as braille blocks, can be felt underfoot or with a probing cane, informing people with visual impairments about the road layout. In contrast, metal spiked studs are an example of defensive architecture. Inserted into ledges or the ground, they deter people from accessing or settling in certain spaces. In 2014 they became known as #AntiHomelessSpikes on social media after they were used in London to prevent those in need from finding shelter. Paving slab to aid navigation About 1965 (manufactured 2016) Designed by Seiichi Miyake, Japan Moulded polyurethane Given by Rupert Faulkner Museum no. CD.154-2016 Spiked studs to regulate behaviour 2014 Designed and manufactured by Kent Stainless, Ireland Cast and brushed steel Museum no. CD.50:15 to 20-2014 The object sits in the 'Housing and Living' section of the Design 1900-Now gallery opened in June 2021.(2021)
  • Tactile Paving Stone Seeichi Miyake Japan, 1965 In 1965, Seiichi Miyaki developed a system of tactile tiles, which could be laid onto pavements, and give the visually impaired cruical directional cues. It was first installed in Okayama City in 1967 and has since been used in cities around the world.
Credit line
Given by Rupert Faulkner
Object history
The tactile paving tile was included in ‘Values of Design’ at the V&A Gallery, Design Society in Shenzhen, China in 2017.
Summary
Seiichi Miyake was a Japanese inventor who in the 1960s worked to develop systems that would improve the safety of the visually impaired as they navigated the city. In particular, he was interested in developing directional cues that could help people understand when they were approaching a potentially dangerous or trafficked area, such as busy intersections or the edge of a train platform.



In 1965, he invented the ‘braille block’, the first set of tactile paving tiles, which would eventually be adopted around the world as a way of aiding navigation for the visually impaired. These tactile paving tiles, or ‘Tenji blocks’ as they are a known in Japan, consisted of tiles with raised lines or domes (sometimes truncated) which are used predominately as ground surface indicators to aid blind and visually impaired pedestrians to stop and navigate crosswalks. The raised line pattern indicates a safe path along which a person can walk, while the dome pattern indicates that the person should stop. It was also decided to colour the tiles yellow so that they could also aid the partially blind.



In 1975, all Japan Railway platforms were modified to include these tactile surfaces and in the following years its use spread to cities and government buildings across Japan. Eventually, similar systems were adopted worldwide. It was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1990. The United States also picked up the standard in the early 1990s, after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).



This tile is a contemporary version of Miyake’s 1965 design, which was produced in 2016 by the company he founded in 1974. It is made of polyurethane as opposed to the original cast-cement version.



This tile was acquired as part of the Shekou Project, an international partnership between the V&A and China Merchant Shekou Holdings (CMSK) to open a new cultural platform called Design Society in Shekou. The tile was included in the inaugural exhibition, ‘Values of Design’, in the V&A Gallery at Design Society in a section looking at the design issue of improving the lives of those with disabilities.

Collection
Accession Number
CD.154-2016

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record createdJune 24, 2016
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