Try buying a wheelchair and you’ll notice that they are priced between $99 and $1049 on an average. This isn’t a big deal if you’re living in developed countries but most of the wheelchairs available on the markets aren’t affordable for those residing in the developing regions like Rwanda and others like it. This poses a problem for disabled people, forcing many to get around in makeshift contraptions that don’t serve much purpose and are pretty uncomfortable. With a view to tackling this issue, Catalan designers Clara Romani and Josep Mora have decided to build wheelchairs from cheap and used chairs which are locally available. This cuts down the cost of wheelchairs drastically and gives disadvantaged folk a chance to avail of them.
The idea is wonderfully sustainable and can be mimicked elsewhere in the world. However, it especially targets places that lack resources and money. The designers purchase the wheels used by conventional wheelchairs and combines them with locally sourced materials to create the affordable contraptions. The project is DIY-based and doesn’t require a degree in designing. Moreover, the employment of used chairs means that they are recycled and can help offset the garbage problem.
To understand just how beneficial recycling is to the environment, we need to look at the life cycle of a particular product, from extraction and processing of raw materials to the manufacturing of the product and its final disposal. Recycling creates a system where all unwanted products are brought back to the manufacturers to be used in new products, cutting down cost of production and reducing the need to use brand new materials. Such a project could also help generate employment.
The Catalan duo’s workshop is located inside Gatagara Hospital that engages both staff and patients in the building and fixing process of the recycled wheelchairs. The design uses nothing more that screws and metallic corners to fix the seats to the wheels.