Universal Design is the design and making of a space or environment so that it can be fully used by all people regardless of their ability or disability.
Aging in place is an expanding market that will benefit not only the immediate residents but the face of the building industry itself. One of the cornerstones of universal design is “loose fit” wherein spaces are designed so that they are highly adaptable to a wide range of activities and changes over time. This is extremely important in this time of rapidly changing technology not only in the consumer market but in the medical field. Medical advances have allowed more and more people to be treated and cared for in a home setting for longer and longer times. Medical devices are making their way into our homes in many different ways.
GCE Architecture also works on small renovation projects for local Housing Authorities. The type of project is wide ranging- from new exterior ramps to accessible bathrooms to replacement windows. This work has been interesting in that the construction is of a residential nature however the design and code related issues are of a commercial nature. We must design to the commercial code, MAAB and ADA in a residential setting often for elderly residents. We’ve thought about how elderly residents use windows in various rooms in their apartments. We’ve thought about the best ways to route a ramp not only for wheelchairs but for strollers, mobility impaired individuals, and, really, for everyone.
The drawing to the left shows a First floor Master Suite that was designed for a family who has a wheel-chair bound child. The solution actually shifted midway thru the design: initially we were adding a new addition for the child’s bedroom on the first floor, then we decided to put the child’s bedroom in an existing space on the first floor and make the addition for the parent’s bedroom so that they could be near their child.