Making a home accessible is often associated with making it look institutional. No-one wants that. And there is no need for it either. But when a person needs specific modifications to enable independence, experience and advice from an occupational therapist is often called for. The video below shows the benefits of involving an occupational therapist (OT) in designing a home for specific disabilities. First hand stories explain the importance of all design features. The emphasis for the clients is on keeping the sense of ‘my home’ in the design. These case studies are based on money being available for a new build or extensive rebuild, but not everyone will have that luxury. Consequently, we must still consider basic access featuresin all new and extensively modified homes.
Architect Guy Luscombe recently returned from a study trip in Europe focusing on living arrangements for older people. His comprehensive report featuring case studies from Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Netherlands, reveals eight key design features important to older people. He says, “The traditional ‘nursing home’ and ‘retirement village’ are not only outdated, they can actually foster separation and ‘otherness’, isolating people from their family, friends and interests. The aim of this project is to explore how architects can design better environments for older people that improve their enjoyment of life. It starts with rethinking some of our design language.” Many in the universal design movement would agree with this.
The House that Chris Built: Chris Nicholls discusses the design and construction of his family home from the perspective of a wheelchair user. He outlines some of the problems with applying standards such as AS1428 in homes and explains why some design features, which are often referred to as disability features, are not necessarily needed by every wheelchair user or person with a disability. He also explains which features were important and why. The slideshow presentation has many instructive photographs. You can also download the transcript of his presentation:
The Design Standards establish the standards that all new housing and major refurbishments of existing NSW Land and Housing Corporation housing stock must meet. The document may be taken as performance and functional guidance rather than prescriptive requirements for:
Projects undertaken by the affordable housing or community housing sector which are mainly privately funded, or
Aboriginal Housing Office projects.
The Design Standards include five non-negotiable Design Principles and the Design Features emphasise:
Although this video is about the specific requirements of one person, it shows how some design features, such as level entry into the home, could make a difference right from the outset – for everyone.
Edited transcript from live captioning of the presentation by Shawn Neilson and Joel Elbourne who outline the process of engaging with developers to encourage the uptake of Banyule City Council’s Liveable Housing Design Guidelines in new housing developments. They show how it is possible to get buy-in from developers using local government resources. The title of their presentation is, Improving housing for people across their lifespan.
Although this set of guidelines was published in 2008, the information is as relevant today as it was when first published. The designs and costings were well researched and there are sample plans for all types of dwellings. These Guidelines went on to form the underpinnings of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines (Silver and Gold levels) in 2012.