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.