Home design: Smart and accessible

Picture of a smart phone and attachment for home controlsThe use of smart technology for ageing in place is the subject of a European study. In their article, Matteo Zallio, Dublin Institute of Technology, and Niccolo Casiddu, University of Genoa, present their research which includes case studies. The article is titled, Lifelong Housing Design: User Feedback Evaluation of Smart Objects and Accessible Houses for Healthy Ageing. The research question was, “Could houses and appliances have the potential to improve autonomy and people’s quality of life? Which kind of methods, tools and scenarios could enhance wellbeing and health promotion, while reducing time and costs?”

They present the somewhat obvious case that smart technology needs to go hand in hand with suitable home design for ageing in place. However, there is a concern that devices are being seen as the solution to many things, including the care routines of older people, especially as they are becoming more accessible, affordable and usable.

The article’s concluding paragraph is “An environment equipped with the architectural facilities and integrated with smart objects, could improve people’s quality of life, increase security, assist in daily activities, encourage socializing, becoming easy and manageable for caregivers, family and friends”

Recommended Citation, Zallio, M. & Casiddu, N. (2016) Lifelong Housing Design: User Feedback Evaluation of Smart Objects and Accessible Houses for Healthy Ageing, 9th ACM International Conference on Pervasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments – Corfu, Greece 2016

Autism friendly home environment

Picture of a large family looking jubilant outside their houseThere are many families with stories to tell about living with autism. The latest study by Wasan Nagib and Allison Williams uses these to explore the challenges faced by families. The authors conclude with three recommended home typologies – detached and attached houses, and apartments. They also discuss policy implications. The article in Housing Studies, “Towards an autism friendly home environment” is  published by Taylor and Frances Online.

Abstract: This study explores the challenges faced by children with autism and their families in the home environment and how physical elements of the home environment can be designed or modified to alleviate these challenges and create an autism-friendly home. The research employs qualitative methods to learn from the experiences of key informants involved in creating or modifying the home environment of people with autism; this involved interviews with architects and occupational therapists. To learn from the families themselves, an online survey of the families of children with autism across Canada and the United States was conducted. The study provides insight into the physical, social, and psychological challenges affecting the quality of life of children with autism and their families in their home environment and the contribution of home modifications to alleviating the challenges. The appropriateness of the three housing typologies – detached houses, attached houses, and apartments – to accommodate autism-related needs is discussed together with potential policy implications.

Seniors housing or housing for everyone?

Row of two storey houses, box shape, painted deep blue with white square windows and white bargeboardsI was delighted to be asked to make a presentation at Waverley Council’s seminar and workshop last week, Living Local, Staying Connected. My task was to cover the development, content and status of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines.

Other speakers were Professor Bruce Judd who gave a comprehensive overview of his research with older people and their housing preferences. In the process he debunked the myth of downsizing being “the thing older people should do”. Architect Guy Luscombe presented the findings from his travelling scholarship in Europe and gave everyone some new ideas about design preferences – windows and natural light coming to the top of the list.

Joel Elbourne and Shawn Neilson from Banyule City Council (Melbourne) gave an update on the progress of their Liveable Design Guidelines and the work they have been doing with developers. Also from Melbourne, Jeremy McLeod told us the very interesting story of the Nightingale Project – showing what can be achieved through new ways of thinking in terms of property development and building design to achieve sustainable and affordable housing. You can download the following presentations:

Livable Housing Design Guidelines: A new way of thinking or more of the same?

Guy Luscombe’s report on the NANA Project  

Joel and Shawn’s Australian Universal Design Conference presentation,

A similar presentation by Bruce Judd An Ageing City – Are we prepared? (UNSW Utzon Lecture)

Jane Bringolf, Editor.


Building a home for a wheelchair user:

A builder’s perpective.

Twostoreyframeand housesSam’s story. As part of my PhD research project I interviewed a family member who built a home for a relative who uses a wheelchair. It transpired he was also a builder. The interview shows that being a builder with a family member with a disability does not always make for a better understanding of where regulations apply and where they do not. It also shows how misunderstood the whole area of accessibility, public domain standards and housing design can get mixed up. This is Sam’s story – the fifth and last in the series of house building stories.

Download Sam’s story

Jane Bringolf, Website Editor

Building a new home – a wheelchair user’s perpective

Steve’s Story.

-Double-Story-23This is the fourth and last in the series of stories about wheelchair users building a new home. Steve is married with two children and tells his story about building a two storey project home. Similarly to George, he had to make compromises when the builder failed to deliver on promises. However, when allowed to speak directly with tradespeople, some of the problems were easily solved.

Download the synopsis of Steve’s Story

I interviewed four wheelchair users who had recently built a home as part of my PhD research project. I was interested in the process and the interaction with house-building professionals.

Jane Bringolf, Website Editor

Building a new home: a wheelchair user’s perspective

George’s Story.

modern-patioThis is the third in the series of personal stories – this week it is George who comes from a family of builders. He relates his experiences with a project home builder and how he had to overcome resistance to incorporating basic access features.

I interviewed four wheelchair users who had recently built a home as part of my PhD research project. I was interested in the process and the interaction with house-building professionals. 

Download a synopsis of George’s story

Jane Bringolf, Website Editor

UD in Housing: is it the answer for older people?

IMGP0308 20percentAlthough some ideas have moved on since Universal Design in Housing: is it the answer for home design for the ageing population? was published in 2003, the main thrust of the paper remains relevant. In their conclusions, Joanne Quinn and Oya Demirbilik advise, “Rather than directing a Universal Design approach on housing for aging baby boomers, or the current older population, it would be more suitable to apply it to the design of dwellings for all age groups. Universal Design is intended to be useable by, and useful to, people of all ages and abilities. … It can potentially eliminate the need to adapt a dwelling to provide access to people experiencing a temporary or permanent disability, irrespective of their age. As such, it has a benefit to the entire population.” While they recognise a regulatory approach is needed, they also recommend that a market approach be adopted. However, since 2003, the market approach has failed to work.They also note that universal design is often understood as only for people with disability instead of the whole population – perhaps one of the reasons the market-driven approach has failed.

Abstract: The ageing of Australia’s ‘baby boom’ generation has prompted calls for universal design and other design approaches such as accessible design, barrier-free design, visitable design and adaptable design to be incorporated into Australian private housing. This study identified and examined some of the issues that need to be considered in order to provide better access to appropriately designed private homes for the aging population, and explored the potential for universal design to provide this access.

Wheelchair user’s perspective on building a new home

Tomas and Lisa’s Story.

Bath-fixtures-with-a-universal-design-07This is the second in the series of posts on wheelchair users building a home. I interviewed four wheelchair users who had recently built a home as part of my PhD research project. I was interested in the process and the interaction with house-building professionals. . Tomas tells his story about designing a home for two wheelchair users and their children. Unlike Mike, Tomas and Lisa had an easier time. Tomas also provides some comparisons with Europe.

Download the synopsis of Tomas’ Story

Jane Bringolf, Website Editor

Person-environment fit using the ICF and Housing Enabler

housing enabler logoMaking the environment fit for all regardless of capacity is an important goal for public health efforts. But valid methods for measuring accessibility are currently icflacking. This study aims to address this lack. Using the ICF and the Housing Enabler as a conceptual framework, a typology of person-environment fit was developed along three dimensions: 1) accessibility problem range and severity; 2) aspects of functioning; 3) environmental context.

Abstract background: “Making the built environment accessible for all regardless of functional capacity is an important goal for public health efforts. Considerable impediments to achieving this goal suggest the need for valid measurements of accessibility and for greater attention to the complexity of person-environment fit issues. To address these needs, this study aimed to provide a methodological platform, useful for further research and instrument development within accessibility research. This was accomplished by the construction of a typology of problematic person-environment fit constellations, utilizing an existing methodology developed to assess and analyze accessibility problems in the built environment.”

Download Typology of person-environment fit constellations: a platform addressing accessibility problems in the built environment for people with functional limitations

Article by Björn Slaug, Oliver Schilling, Susanne Iwarsson, and Gunilla Carlsson

A wheelchair user’s perspective on building a new home

Mike’s Story

living room udI interviewed four wheelchair users who had recently built a home as part of my PhD research project. I was interested in the process and the interaction with house-building professionals. In coming newsletters I will feature the other three interviews. This week it is Mike’s Story. He tells how he engaged an architect because he had little confidence in a project home builder understanding what he wanted. However, this did not result in plain sailing.

Download Mike’s story

Jane Bringolf, Website Editor