Stylish bathrooms with UD

A step free shower with a glass partition.The Housing Industry Association website has a page tucked away titled, Aesthetically Accessible. It shows how designing and constructing a bathroom can be “accessible to people of all abilities and ages”. And it is becoming much easier, “with more beautiful results than ever”. The key points for accessibility are discussed in the article with lots of pictures. Livable Housing Design Guidelines are mentioned, and so they should. HIA was one of the stakeholders in the development of the Guidelines. However, this is only one page relating to accessibility. More recent news on bathrooms returns to the regular design ideas and the importance of fashion trends and style inspiration without reference to the Guidelines. Universal design and inspired style are compatible – they are not mutually exclusive.

Editor’s comment: At the recent access consultants’ conference, the Chair of of LHA, Alex Waldron, said that LHA maintains its stance on voluntary adoption of the guidelines. This leads to the conclusion that they will not be supporting changes to the National Construction Code proposed by the Australian Building Codes Board.

 

Age-Friendly Housing Resources

Front cover of the book showing yellow boxes approximating rooms in homes. Age Friendly Housing.RIBA’s book, Age-Friendly Housing: Future design for older people, is about anticipating the needs of older generations. It is available for purchase from UK.

“This book embeds the principles of how we should approach the design of future housing for an ageing population, reminding us that this is not about `other people’, but about each of us.

This book focuses on anticipating the needs and aspirations of the next generation of older people, and touches on what this implies for our communities, our towns and our cities, as well as for our living spaces.It will look at how well-designed buildings can facilitate the provision of care, support independence and wellbeing while providing companionship and stimulation. It will also examine how to ensure that buildings remain flexible over a long life.

Dealing mainly with new-build, but with a section on adaptation and refurbishment, this book sets out the underlying design principles that should be applied and the early decisions that must be taken. Richly illustrated with case studies alongside contributions from a range of experts and examples of best practice, this comprehensive resource will inform and empower architects, designers, planners and clients to be braver and wiser in designing with older people in mind.”

See also lists of design-related resources relating to age friendly and accessible housing: Design Hub – Building homes and communities, 

Flexible housing offsets risk

Picture of a tall long skinny house with white lattice covering. It fits into a driveway.The current standard design ideas for homes goes back more than a century. It’s time for a rethink on home design to suit the way we live our lives now is the claim in an article by Kirsty Voltz in The Conversation.

Home designs are not keeping up with societal changes that include affordability, size of homes, accessibility across the lifespan, and designing so that as lives change, the interior of the home can adapt to suit.

The risks are in not recognising the need to change and adapt to current circumstances, lifestyles, societal changes and personal aspirations. The article contains links to other references and concludes, “Existing housing stock is designed around the numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms that appeal to the market and so fails to be responsive to what people need from housing in the 21st century.”

The picture is of the 3 bedroom home that Kirsty Voltz designed to fit in the space of an obsolete driveway.

Is there a market for accessible homes?

Front cover of Habinteg report showing coins and Monopoly houses. Hidden market for accessible homes.A UK blog site has an article that discusses the market appeal of Lifetime Homes in the UK context. Dominic Aitken cites some interesting research and reports by the London School of Economics, Ipsos MORI, and Habinteg Housing and Papworth Trust. UK homes are traditionally two storey with the bathroom and toilet upstairs. They are generally smaller than Australian homes too, which makes it more difficult in terms of circulation spaces.

It was thought that Part M of the building code would create greater accessibility in homes, but it hasn’t helped much at all. The best part is that it requires a downstairs toilet, which is handy for everyone. Aitken explains his own research project on this topic looking at homebuyers and estate agents. The blog site has attracted several good comments and are worth reading too. By the way, it seems stair lifts are not that popular with purchasers. 

Housing and older people: four strategies

A brick house showing small pane windows and window boxes with a green hedge in front. Housing and older people.In his conference paper, The Future of Housing for the Elderly: Four Strategies that Can Make a Difference, Jon Pynoos continues to advocate for accessible housing and home modifications. His arguments are not new – they just need to be kept up, given there has been no change in Australia or the USA since this campaign began some 20 years or so ago.

It is not a long article, but gives an overview of some of the issues preventing good renovation design and design of new homes. He then discusses some of the particular issues in the USA including older people ageing in ageing buildings. As for new homes, he cites building standards as being the biggest barrier to creating homes that will suit people throughout their lifespan, and that won’t need modifications later on. Professor Pynoos adds more evidence on the failure of voluntary codes in this regard. His conclusions join the dots between all the elements that would make for successful lifelong homes. Jon Pynoos is well known in housing and home modification circles. Over his long career he has campaigned for accessible home designs and universal design through his many articles and conference presentations. 

The article was published by The Gerontological Society of America,  Public Policy & Aging Report, 2018, Vol. 00, No. 00, 1–4

Making universal design a reality – confronting affordability

Head and shoulders pic of Kay Saville-Smith
Kay Saville-Smith

Edited transcript from live captioning of Kay Saville-Smith’s keynote presentation at the Australian Universal Design Conference 2014. Titled: Making universal design a reallity – confronting affordability.

Synopsis: The Christchurch earthquakes which flattened much of the city provided an opportunity to start from scratch and implement some of the good design ideas, including universal design, that have been around for some time.  However, this UD-logo-200x200has not happened and there are many reasons for this, not least of which is the stance of the insurance industry.

The issue of affordability is a complex one, as it is a market driven issue where the actual cost of the building is not the main issue.  Universal design and affordability can co-exist, but there are many attitudinal barriers and well-worn arguments touted in the industry that say it cannot be done.

Kay Saville-Smith Keynote Presentation transcipt in PDF or Transcript in Word

Kay Saville-Smith Keynote Slideshow PDF 3MB   

 

Barriers to Universal Design in Australian Housing

A single storey home has few barriers to universal design in housing.From the Editor: I prepared a 2000 word version of my PhD thesis for easier reading. The title is Barriers to Universal Design in Australian Housing. I wanted to find out what the barriers are and if we could do something about it. 

The simple answer is that the industry runs on regulations to hold the house building system together. So nothing will change without regulation. Outdated ideas about market segmentation, general resistance to change, and risk avoidance are key issues. Cost was cited most often as a barrier, but without any evidence of the costs.  

A line of complex manufacturing machinery used to show the complex process and number of stakeholders involved in mass market housing.

 

The graphic shows that the house building industry is a system with several stakeholders. This system relies on everyone doing the same thing in the same way. The best way to achieve this is through regulation.

 

Read the conference paper to find out more about the complexities of the house building industry and why there is resistance to change from both builders and purchasers. You can also download the accompanying slide show from the 2011 FICCDAT conference.

The full thesis is available from the Western Sydney University archives. I did my best to make it as readable as possible within the constraints of academic writing.

Jane Bringolf

(FICCDAT is, Festival of International Conferences on Caring, Disability, Aging and Technology.)

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