Housing affordability within Australian cities is resulting in greater levels of multigenerational living. Increasingly, developers are responding to this market by designing “houses with flexibility, a universal design for all ages,” Makoto Ochiai, Sekisui House.
In NSW, a draft Medium Density Design Guide has been developed to encourage supply of housing between apartment and free-standing dwellings. Read more from the NSW Minister for Planning, Housing and Special Minister of State, the Hon. Anthony Roberts MP.
The Livable Housing Design Guidelines are a great resource for individuals purchasing or renovating a home, builders – small and large, and building design professionals. It can serve as a rough checklist, but much of the information is a common sense guide. It advises what to consider in home design to make it more comfortable, easy to use no matter what your age or level of ability. Not all homes will be able to apply all the good ideas, but just doing what you can is a good start for both occupants and visitors alike.
The original idea behind these guidelines was to have them applied to all new housing by 2020. However, it is difficult to apply voluntary guidelines in an industry governed by mandatory building codes and standards. These Guidelines were endorsed by COAG and are cited in government policy documents. Note the spelling of Livable is particular to these guidelines and is considered a brand name by Livable Housing Australia.
This bathroom case study comes from South Carolina. The home renovation was brought about by one of the occupants being diagnosed with ALS (Motor Neurone Disease). The update is an example of full accessibility, and shows how design and construction issues were overcome. Not all aspects will be relevant to Australia, or to universal design, as some design features, such as a ceiling track, are disability specific. Before and after pictures and a floor plan help explain what was achieved.
This online case study is featured on This Old House website. Unfortunately the website obviously relies heavily on advertising which makes for much scrolling.
The Whole Building Design Guide has a web-based guide of design objectives for the built environment that includes universal design alongside and within other elements such as health, aesthetics, safety and security, and sustainability.
The Whole of Building Design is a program of the National Institute of Building Sciences based in Washington. This is a comprehensive guide covering all aspects of major building projects. The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access has contributed to the Guide. There are examples of how to apply the classic 7 principles and 8 Goals of universal design in the design process.