While these designs are great for wheelchair users, there are others who might find these designs tricky to use. A case in point is a cantilevered sink against a glass wall. Maybe in real life it doesn’t trick the eye as much. However, I wouldn’t classify these designs as universal design. Anyone with perception problems would be confused with the sink.Have a look and see what you think.
What the pictures clearly show is that accessible and universally designed bathrooms can look good. There is no limit to creative design. Of course, a custom design for your own home should work for you if not others.
This newsletter also has a picture of a man who got a tattoo of a cochlear implant on his head to make his daughter feel more comfortable with hers.
Todd also has a magazine. He is based in New York.
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.
Renovations are an important part of the home building industry. There is a push for older people in the US to consider designs that will allow them to stay put as they age. But are builders on board with this? It’s no good waiting until a client actually needs the features because by then, they will often not have the wherewithal to organise it. So it could be institutional care or a restricted lifestyle from there on.
The 2018 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study is a comprehensive report that has some interesting statistics about the age at which people might start thinking of their future needs and doing something about it. It also shows what they are actually doing in terms of renovation design. An interesting and easy to read study which supports the idea that these features should be designed into the home in the first place. It also features bathroom products and fittings.
It is often quoted that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and that probably won’t change in the future. But what people might doing in the kitchen could change significantly. A blog on a product website lists five key design features trending for the future: connectivity, sustainability, ease of use for all, and the rise of professional products. Below is a video where researchers and designers from around the world were asked how they thought kitchens will evolve. Their ideas on the future are worth looking at. There are some neat ideas at the end of the video. One of the designers, Patricia Moore, says,
“We must be able to choose at all times what suits us. Some people have to work sitting down or in a wheelchair. A small child should be able to help Mom and Dad prepare food. And our grandparents, who will experience reductions and have less physical strength and mental capacity, should be able to prepare a meal with comfort and safety.”
How do you know what older people want in their bathroom design? Simple. Ask them. And have lots of Post It Notes handy. That’s the basis of co-design. Having a more flexible and safer bathroom at home is one of the keys to ageing in place. Knowing “what’s best” is not necessarily in the hands of design experts or health professionals. The Livable Bathrooms for Older People Project investigated and evaluated all aspects of bathroom design, fixtures and fittings. The report spells out in great detail how the project was conducted, including the role of participants in the process, and the outcomes of the research. There are many explanatory pictures demonstrating the process.The report is available on ResearchGate, the UNSW Library list, or can be purchased from Google Books.
The Co-Design research was carried out by Associate Professor Oya Demirbilek, the Co-Design Sessions Lead Investigator with assistance from PhD Students Alicia Mintzes, Steve Davey and Peter Sweatman. University of New South Wales. 2015.
Note: The picture is of the renowned public toilet in Kawakawa New Zealand. It would be very confusing for someone with perception issues. Editor’s photo.