Lifemark and BRANZ, the building research organisation in New Zealand, have produced a guideline titled Universal Design for Houses. The drawings and design ideas are based on accessible home design for wheelchair users. This is useful for understanding circulation space that’s good for wheelchair users and also good for everyone. However, not everything good for wheelchair users is good for everyone – so not exactly universal design.
The guide is concise and has lots of graphs to illustrate design ideas. Topics include what’s legally required, getting in and out of the home, wet areas, kitchens, hardware and lifts in dwellings.
For more universal application in all homes, see the Livable Housing Design Guidelines.
Editor’s comment: Translating the term universal design into designs for wheelchair users is a common error. But if you need to design for a generic wheelchair user, this is a good guide.
Be safe at home
Safety, slips, trips and falls are the topic of a Lifemark article, Better Design, Safer Homes,. It points out how many people fall and injure themselves at home. They also cut and burn themselves badly enough to need hospital treatment. How could such injuries be avoided so that people are sate at home? The article on has tips for stairs, bathrooms, kitchens, and entrances.
The article concludes, “A safer home benefits all occupants (and visitors), not just older people. Children, in particular will benefit from a design that recognises and addresses risk areas and by doing so creates a more liveable space for everyone”. Lifemark is based in New Zealand.