Access Insight - Summer 2022

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SUMMER 2022

Architecture For All and the UIA Year of Design for Health Coogee SLSC awarded by International Olympic and Paralympic Committees Technical Insights: Handrail Profiles

THE MAGAZINE FOR THE ASSOCIATION OF CONSULTANTS IN ACCESS AUSTRALIA


IN THIS ISSUE

ACAA COMMITTEE OF MANAGEMENT PRESIDENT: Lindsay Perry

ACAA State Access Consultants Network.................................................2

VICE PRESIDENT: Farah Madon

From the President’s Desk.......................3

SECRETARY: Vacant

Architecture For All and the UIA Year of Design for Health....................................4

TREASURER: Howard Moutrie

Coogee SLSC awarded by International Olympic and Paralympic Committees......10

ORDINARY MEMBERS: John Moulang Lynda Wilem

Technical Insights: Handrail Profiles.........16

Richard Seidman Bruce Bromley

ACAA State Access Consultants Networks NEW SOUTH WALES

Contact: ACAA NSW Chairperson Robyn Thompson

SOUTH AUSTRALIA Address: 20 Maud Street, Geelong VIC 3220 Email:

admin@access.asn.au

Phone:

+61 3 5221 2820

Web:

www.access.asn.au

Editor:

Anita Harrop aieditor@access.asn.au

Summer 2022 Issue Cover photo credit: iStockphoto Please email the Editor if you would like to showcase your project on the Cover of the next Access Insight

Contact: ACAA SA Chairperson Grant Wooller

QUEENSLAND

Contact: ACAA QLD Chairperson Angela Chambers

VICTORIA

Contact: ACAA VIC Secretary Lynda Wilem

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Contact: ACAA WA Chairperson Vacant 2

THE MAGAZINE FOR THE ASSOCIATION OF CONSULTANTS IN ACCESS AUSTRALIA


FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK by Lindsay Perry

President of the Association of Consultants in Access Australia

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elcome to our first edition of Access Insight for 2022. I hope you are all making your way through the ever-changing rules and regulations around COVID and coping with the new “normal”. The ACAA Management Committee has been busy behind the scenes organising what looks to be another exciting and busy year for our members. You should have received an email containing information about our CPD Webinar Series for 2022. We aim to cover a wide range of topics that is well rounded and balanced between technical matters and design philosophy. There is also the opportunity to purchase the webinar series in bulk at a discounted rate. I am excited to announce that our new Mentoring Workshops commenced this month and thank the participants for their enthusiasm and encouragement. I look forward to getting to know our little group and collaborate our passion for access. On the topic of membership, there have been some recent changes to the accredited membership category that have taken some members by surprise. Thank you for altering me to this. After discussion with the management committee, we have decided that the new time

limits for accredited membership applications will be phased in over the next six months. We are happy to receive applications during this time based on the eighteen month time frame, and we will assess these on a merit basis, taking into account your time in the industry. Sadly, Anita Harrop has advised that she is stepping down as Secretary of ACAA and as Editor of Access Insight. Anita, I cannot express enough thanks for everything you have done for ACAA in these roles. Your time, effort and dedication are truly appreciated, and we are not quite sure how we will cope without you. I wish you well in all your future endeavours and hope to maybe see you back on the committee in the future when the timing is right. Thank you! I also extend a big thank you to all our contributors to this issue that promises to have something for everyone. Thank you also to our regular contributors who continually offer us insights into technical matters and the latest technology. Enjoy this issue and take care.

A note from the Editor It is with regret that I let you all know I am stepping down from role of Access Insight Editor, which I have been doing since November 2019. I have enjoyed the interactions with you all, and my sincerest thanks to all the article contributors. Your willingness and capacity to share your stories, skills, experiences and insights is what has made Access Insight so readable since it was first published in July 2017.

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FEATURED ARTICLE

Architecture For All and the UIA Year of Design for Health by Belinda Seale (Australian UIA AFA Rep) & Allen Kong (UIA AFA Co-Director)

Belinda Seale is the Principal Architect and Access Consultant at Haptic Space, with over 20 years’ experience in the design and delivery of enabling and therapeutic environments. She chairs the Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Enabling Architecture Committee, serves on the National Enabling Architecture Committee, and represents the Institute on the International Union of Architects (UIA) Architecture for All Work Group. She is currently a PhD candidate at Deakin University, undertaking research into rehabilitation environments. Allen Kong is the Director of Allen Kong Architect. Allen’s cultural background has influenced his conceptual framework for his holistic view of architecture. He blends evidence-based design with the inalienable understanding of the living spirit relationship AKA work has been recognised with many international awards including UN World Habitat Award and UN Scroll of Honour for Human Settlements, UIA Architecture for All; World Congress of Health and Design for Salutogenic Design. Both World Architecture News and Banksia Foundation Design for Sustainability. Allen has further roles as Co-Chair of International Union of Architecture (UIA) Architecture for All Work programme, Co-Chair and Director of Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria (IADV), Convenor of RAIA National Enabling Architecture Committee, Member of Building Appeals Board Victoria (BAB) and Sustainable Architecture Forum Victoria.

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he Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the role the built environment can play in both spreading and controlling disease, as well as the importance of healthy, safe environments for all. It is in this context that the International Union of Architects (UIA) has declared 2022 as the UIA Year of Design for Health, encouraging architects to use evidence-based design to promote health in buildings and cities. The UIA is a non-government federation of national architectural organisations from 115 countries and territories worldwide. It was founded in 1948 with the aim of uniting architects around the world, providing a platform for sharing knowledge, innovation and collaborative solutions, with a particular focus on sustainable development. The UIA is made up of five regions, a governing Council, a range of work groups and commissions, and organises triennial congresses, forums and international design competitions1. The Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) is a member of the UIA in Region IV - Asia and Oceania, and has representatives on the Council, the Sustainable Development Goals Commission and various work groups, including the Architecture for All work group with ACAA members Allen Kong (co-Director), Belinda Seale and Eric Martin all currently representing the RAIA. The Architecture for All Work Programme (AfA WP) aims to raise awareness of architects’ responsibilities to design accessible and inclusive environments and promote good practice in this area. The triennial UIA Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Awards is organised by the group to 1 UIA website https://www.uia-architectes.org/webApi/en/about

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FEATURED ARTICLE encourage and acknowledge exemplary building and public space design in this area. The AfA WP also facilitates a network of architects with expertise and experience in accessible and inclusive design, compiles and disseminates best practice case studies, education and training material, participates in developing international standards and guidelines, advises governmental and non-governmental organisations and participates in conferences, exhibitions, seminars and competition juries2.

The meticulous rehabilitation of a listed medieval palace in Barcelona for the creation of four independent living units for 48 people with physical disabilities provides quality housing in an old part of town, while breathing new life into a heritage structure. La Residencia Vigatans was completed for Associacio Civica d’Ajuda Mutua by Arquitectura i Accessibilitat, architects Carla Habif Hassid, Xavier Garcia- Mila and Jaume Cardona.

FRIENDLY AND INCLUSIVE SPACES AWARDS Entries in the Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Awards must demonstrate the highest standards of universal and inclusive design, contributing to the quality of life for all who use them. Award categories include New Buildings, Refurbished Existing including Historic Buildings, Public and Open Spaces and Research and entries are accepted from architect members of a UIA Member Section. Aspects considered include architecture which enhances users experience through friendly scale, form, colour, material and light; takes account of human diversity and needs; and facilitates orientation, wayfinding and ease of understanding. Evidence based research is assessed on its contribution to improved quality of life through facilitating a better understanding of user centred design, its applicability and effectiveness for use to enhance design quality and create friendly and inclusive spaces. The awards were first held in 2014, with the year’s research award winners including ‘Autism ASPECTSS Design Index’ by Magda Mosafa3. It was noted as the first set of evidencebased design guidelines worldwide to address built environments for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In 2017 amongst the fine entries were two examples of building refurbishments which meld inclusion and access with the effective and sustainable reuse of the built fabric, both demonstrating carefully considered design decisions to achieve balanced outcomes. 2 AfA website http://uiawpafa.hkia.net/ 3 https://www.autism.archi/aspectss

La Residencia Vigatans by Arquitectura i Accessibilitat. Summer 2022

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FEATURED ARTICLE Viva Blue House in Hong Kong by Kenneth Tse at Meta4 Design Forum Ltd, consisted of a renovation of historical residential buildings built in 1920s-1950s to increase accessibility, fire safety and enhance living standards. The project

also aimed to retain and strengthen community by allowing existing residents to remain in homes their families have lived in for generations and to which they have deep sentimental attachment.

Viva Blue House by Kenneth Tse at Meta4 Design Forum Ltd. 6

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FEATURED ARTICLE More recently for the third edition of the awards in 2021, 91 entries were considered from 35 countries, with a wide variation in social, cultural, economic and political contexts. In the new buildings category, the Medal of Excellence was awarded to The Wits Rural Facility by Kate Otten Architects. The facility is a training and research centre working with rural communities located in Limpopo, South Africa. The project demonstrated an underlying respect for people and place. ‘What results is a symbiotic and universal relationship between the architectural spaces created and the natural world into which they insert themselves effortlessly, respectfully, beautifully.’ 4

The modernisation, preservation and digitalisation of the historic headquarters of the Museum of Warsaw in Poland by Ewa Wowczak and Jerzy Wowczak won the Medal of Excellence for the Rehabilitation of Existing and Historic Buildings category. The jury noted the project demonstrated ‘An extremely complex reconstruction of a group of medieval buildings destroyed by war in which the physical difficulties of providing access whilst dealing with specific conservation constraints are overcome through inclusive interventions in the historic fabric.’5 5 2021 Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Awards announcement

4 2021 Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Awards announcement

The Wits Rural Facility by Kate Otten Architects, Photo by Graham de Lacy

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FEATURED ARTICLE Bamboo Playscape: An inclusive playspace as part of a cycle of care project in Bangladesh by Kazi Arefin was awarded the Public & Open Spaces Medal of Excellence. The playspace was designed collaboratively by architectural students working with children with a range of abilities and housed by a charity. The project was noted as

a ‘spectacular structure that joyfully caters for children of all ages and abilities. The project is rooted in the process of learning about access to land, materials, environments and the ethics and politics of creating socially just space.'6 6 2021 Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Awards announcement

Bamboo Playscape by Kazi Arefin, Photo by Tarannum Ali.

The research category award went to a ‘Support Ageing through Design’ by the Architectural Services Department, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, demonstrating comprehensive research in order to develop ‘detailed user-friendly Guidelines to assist designers and decisions makers to improve the quality of the built environment, taking into consideration the physical, mental and social wellbeing of elderly people.’ 7

YEAR OF DESIGN FOR HEALTH 2022 In the Year of Design for Health, the AfA WP is setting out to remind us to be inclusive and supportive of the people and communities that architecture serves. A survey of members has been conducted in relation to affordable and accessible housing around the globe, 7 2021 Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Awards announcemen

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in preparation for an international forum on Affordable Housing in Madrid later this year.8 Results are currently being collated, however some issues identified include a lack of affordable and accessible housing in all regions, a need to adapt existing building stock and a lack of code requirements in some regions. In one submission, a study conducted in Argentina by Saez et al9 analysed the costs of accessible and non-accessible housing against the costs of falls among elderly people, by investigating a examples of social interest housing and the costs to make these accessible. These costs were compared with that for treatment, rehabilitation and ongoing care for people who have had a 8 Affordable Housing forum, Madrid https://www.uia-architectes.org/webApi/en/news/uia-international-forum-in-madrid.html 9 Viviana Saez, Gisela Bogado, Silvina Vera, Eduardo Schmunis & Ricardo Blanco, Cost analysis between accessible and non-accessible housing and its relation with the cost of falls among Elderly People in Argentina.

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FEATURED ARTICLE fall and suffered a hip or ankle fracture. The study found the cost of accessible features was far lower than the additional care costs. It also looked at issues of healthy life expectancy and quality of life for the ageing population of Argentina.

symbol needs to change. The competition aims to challenge designers ‘to develop a new symbol of accessibility that better represents the diversity of people who use buildings and other types of built environments. The brief for the competition can be found at:

Through fostering of international co-operation and knowledge sharing in this vital area, the forum aims to identify good practice, realistic and viable solutions and define long term actions.

https://www.uia-architectes.org/en/competition/ international-accessibility-symbol-designcompetition/

INTERNATIONAL ACCESSIBILITY SYMBOL DESIGN COMPETITION In one of the first activities of 2022, the AfA WP in conjunction with Rehabilitation International (RI) recently launched a design competition for the International Accessibility Symbol. For some time there has been debate about how people with disabilities are represented by the existing ISO Standard 7001 symbol, with many feeling the

Entries will be received from individuals and teams, with the submission deadline in March. So pick up a pencil, get the creative juices flowing and have a go! Contact the article author: Allen Kong Director, Allen Kong Architect Pty Ltd Email: allen@allenkongarchitect.com.au

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FEATURED ARTICLE

Coogee SLSC awarded by International Olympic and Paralympic Committees by Allen Jack+Cottier

Changing the way people live, work and play, Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C) is a Sydney-based practice for architecture, urban design and interiors. Over six decades the practice has created some of Australia’s most innovative, celebrated and sustainable environments in sport, education housing, community and urban design

THE ICONIC BRONZED AUSSIE LIFESAVER IMAGE IS CHANGING

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e’re incredibly proud to share the news that Coogee SLSC has won the IPC/IAKS Distinction for Accessibility at the 2021 IOC IPC IAKS Architecture Prizes in Cologne, Germany. A hub for community in Sydney’s southeast, Coogee SLSC is one of Australia’s oldest surf lifesaving clubs, patrolling a beach of over 4 million visits each year. It reopened in December 2020 after a transformative redesign of the club house following its severe storm-damage in 2016.

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In collaboration with Randwick City Council and Coogee SLSC, Allen Jack +Cottier Architects (AJ+C) redesigned the club house, expanding its teaching and events facilities to greatly improve the Club’s capacity to train new life savers, patrol the beach and generate revenue for its vital work. Design of the now single-level club house, with a new lens-like view to the beach, and elevator to all levels, created all-ability access for the first time in Club history, enabling people with different physical abilities to become surf lifesavers at Coogee. It’s been so successful, that it will soon be a pilot site for other surf lifesaving clubs becoming more inclusive.

THE MAGAZINE FOR THE ASSOCIATION OF CONSULTANTS IN ACCESS AUSTRALIA


FEATURED ARTICLE

It’s especially gratifying for AJ+C, having previously received a Silver Medal at the IOC IPC IAKS Architecture Prizes (2013) for Milson Island Sports & Recreation Centre.

the Club’s capacity to train new life savers, patrol the beach and generate revenue for its vital work.

These awards recognise excellence in the design and operation of fully inclusive and universally accessible indoor and outdoor facilities and are organised jointly by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS).

For over a century, Coogee SLSC has patrolled the beach, trained an army of volunteer lifesavers and been a community hub for schools and scouts, sports events and local celebrations, all based around this building. Today Coogee Beach attracts around 4 million visitors a year.

An official awards ceremony took place in Cologne/Germany, at the international IAKS Congress and FSB trade show. “It’s humbling and gratifying to be recognised by the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees and IAKS for this project, which has been a labour of love for so many. Redesigning the Coogee SLSC was about so much more than repairing and extending the building. Its transformation not only secures the Club’s financial future with peerless new facilities, it’s also opened new pathways for people of all abilities to become surf lifesavers. I can’t think of a greater community legacy than breaking down barriers to inclusion.” — Michael Heenan, Director & CEO, AJ+C Architects

ABOUT THE COOGEE SLSC PROJECT In collaboration with Randwick City Council and Coogee SLSC, Allen Jack +Cottier Architects (AJ+C) redesigned the club house, expanding its teaching and events facilities to greatly improve

Revitalising an icon

Built in 1907 at the southern tip of Coogee Beach, the original masonry club house had been extended over time and in 2016, critically damaged during a major storm event. Council’s brief to AJ+C included a focus on youth life saver training, with innovative facilities and flexible spaces for use by different groups concurrently. The sea wall was repaired and the top (street) level redesigned to create a flexible main training/function room with increased capacity and dramatic new sight-lines to the beach, all while keeping within the existing building footprint. The iconic swimmer’s clock and classical-style portico have also been restored. Future-focused facilities The new interior solves critical access, capacity, and operational issues by replanning the space and relocating ‘back-of-house’ services from north to south within the building. A new commercial kitchen for catering, full-service bar, storage and offices now occupy the southern wing, leaving a central open room that increases capacity from Summer 2022

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FEATURED ARTICLE

60 to 200 people, and delivers dramatic new views north to the beach, east to the ocean. The previously pigeon-holed northern wall is now a large window wall, dramatically framing a view of Coogee Beach. Importantly, a new platform elevator from the street entry gives the club house full wheelchair access for the first time. Services have been gathered up into a 35-metre joinery wall along the western perimeter. Pivoting plywood panels conceal two serving stations, storage rooms, WCs, AV technology and egress doors. They also conceal three stacked bays of acoustically-rated retractable walls that partition the open space into four smaller rooms accommodating multiple user groups at once. The only visible service area is the main bar, featuring mirrorbacked glass shelves, an island counter in white Corian and a contemporary chandelier by Australian designer Ross Gardam. Materials and finishes throughout the space echo

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THE MAGAZINE FOR THE ASSOCIATION OF CONSULTANTS IN ACCESS AUSTRALIA


FEATURED ARTICLE the coastal location. The birch plywood panelling lends a warm sand tone against the charcoal of carpet and tiles and sky blue of the retractable walls. Club memorabilia, artefacts and honour boards have been integrated in the interior, and the Club colours are expressed in the entry mosaic-tiled and a new Club logo and roundel. “Redeveloping this Club house was a very big dream of ours. The biggest design move was creating a new sightline to the sand with a wall of windows, which we made overt by framing it like a camera. With all its windows and doors open, the top floor becomes a veranda, with views to both beach and ocean.” – Michael Heenan, CEO, Principal Design AJ+C Externally the changes include a new verandah off the east elevation offering a wide ocean deck with views north and south to the beach and cliffs. The repaired sea wall is extended to improve access around the building base. The building façade combines durable materials of varying textures and types: zinc cladding to the north façade highlights the beach-facing ‘camera lens’, while a curved wall of blue-and-white mosaic tiles distinguishes the street entry in Club colours. The

restored clock has been reinstated to the new north facade. “The clock is critical. It was donated to the Club years ago and has a very sophisticated mechanism. It’s the clearest surf clock anywhere on the coast, and locally famous because you can see it even when you’re swimming quite far out. It’s special to me because I swim this bay every morning.” –Michael Heenan, CEO, Principal Design AJ+C Accessible and Inclusive A critical reform is the new platform elevator from street entry to all levels, giving the Club house wheelchair access for the first time. The new sight-lines to the beach from the north window and east balcony offer another Club milestone, now enabling people with physical disabilities to become life savers and participate in patrols, and be in radio contact from the Club house to life savers on the sand. Coogee SLSC is set to become the pilot site for a state-wide initiative training surf life savers of different abilities for other clubs around New South Wales.

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Sustainable Key to the sustainability strategy was retaining as much of the existing building as possible including the brick base and external walls. For operational sustainability there are: rooftop solar panels to provide power; low-E glass to reduce heat intake; fully operable doors and windows to deliver natural ventilation; water and energyefficient fixtures and appliances. “After nine months, with the scaffolding now down and the rebuilt Club visible, we couldn’t be more delighted with the design by AJ+C. This is an iconic new clubhouse for a new generation.” Mark Doepel and Tony Waller, Coogee SLSC Key features • Increased capacity of training/function room from 60 to 200 people. • Acoustically rated operable interior walls dividing the space into separate rooms. • Integrated AV technology for training. • A 35-metre wall of joinery concealing storage, bathrooms and acoustic walls. • Platform elevator for wheelchair access to all levels. • New north window wall and east-facing verandah for breathtaking beach and ocean views. A community base for: • Over 620 trained volunteer surf life savers. • Coogee Minnows - Australia’s longest continually running junior life saving club. • Autism Swim Dippers program, for children with other abilities • Annual Coogee Island Swim events (April & November) • Special events venue: weddings, wakes, parties, corporate training etc. • ANZAC Day memorial service, attended by around 15,000 people annually.

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TECHNICAL INSIGHTS

TECHNICAL INSIGHTS The articles featured in Technical Insights are to prompt thought and discussion to assist our members' questions and evaluate their understanding of the technical requirements of Australian Standards and other national/international source material. Technical Insights is intended to provide background information, a different viewpoint, a perspective from an individual with lived experience of disability or to prompt further discussion and/or research by you as an access professional.

Handrail Profiles by Howard Moutrie

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ince 2010, AS1428.1 permits handrails to be round or elliptical, though for many years, only round handrails were permitted. Is this restriction valid and can other shapes be just as functional? Firstly, lets look at how handrails have developed. Traditionally they were made of timber, were square or rectangular in shape with a rounded top. See the typical profile in the image below. Much of the bulk of these handrails was for structural reasons – to span between supports and to withstand the horizontal forces which may be applied.

With the increased use of steel, pipe handrails became popular, particularly in non-residential buildings. The use of a circular section makes sense - looking at the profile of a gripping hand, see below, it can be seen that a circular shape results, particularly at small diameters, but it can also be seen that at larger diameters, a more elliptical shape is formed. But steel or timber 16

doesn’t easily form into this shape, though extruded aluminium does. Architects often like to use a minimal flat horizontal section, but under AS 1428.1 these are not permitted. Is the restriction of the profile to circular or elliptical valid?

The handrail has 2 primary functions, firstly as a guide as a person moves up or down the stair or ramp, and this may include a pull-up function when ascending a stair or ramp and secondly, it can be used as a stabiliser when a loss of balance has occurred. The latter requires a higher level of 'gripability'. Templar, in his book The Staircase, suggests that in this latter condition it is important to provide as much hand area to the handrail as possible to avoid tissue damage and discomfort and thus handrails with elaborate mouldings are undesirable. Maki and Fernie, in their research concluded that for the elderly, or people with reduced wrist and forearm function, a handrail with a wide flat upper surface may limit the amount of force that can be applied and thus is not ideal. Templar also considered the handrail

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TECHNICAL INSIGHTS with respect to injury from hitting it during a fall but acknowledged that recessing the handrail to avoid this issue would not be suitable for people with disabilities. In the end he concluded that a 38mm round handrail is most effective for gripping but is not the best shape to push away from or for injury reduction. More recent research published in 2009 by Dusenberry et al, found “the most important feature essential for functional handrail profiles are protrusions, or lips, that create finger purchases into which users can place fingers and thumb when grasping both sides of handrails.” Their research found that while the commonly used 51mm round handrail was functional, handrails did not have to be round to be functional. They concluded that “symmetric handrail shapes that are at least 32 mm (1- 1/4 in) and not more than 70 mm (2-3/4 in) wide, with a height above the widest portion of the profile not exceeding 19 mm (3/4 in) are sufficiently graspable as long as there is a recess on both sides at least 8 mm (5/16 in) deep. Each recess should achieve this minimum depth no farther than 22 mm (7/8 in) below the widest portion

of the handrail and extend down at least 51 mm (2 in) from the top of the handrail. Additionally, the portion of the height of each recess that is at least as deep as 8 mm (5/16 in) should be at least 9.5 mm (3/8 in). In all aspects tested, the probability of loss of grip on a handrail with this shape is essentially the same as or better than for a 51-mm (2 in.) diameter round shape.” They also determined that a wider, flatter handrail tended to reduce the impact of the handrail support tending to break a person’s grip – the narrower the handrail, the greater proportion of the handrail width would be taken by the handrail support. So, considering this research it would seem that a wide, flat bar would be a suitable handrail, though not permitted under AS 1428.1. I note that this research was published after AS 1428.12009 was written and thus was not considered. In 2002, Nagamachi et al, published Japanese research aimed specifically at the elderly. This is important research because the elderly tend to be more reliant on handrails, but we need to also consider that people in Japan tend to

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TECHNICAL INSIGHTS be physically smaller than those in Australia. With respect to the size of the handrail, they recommended a diameter of 35mm and that a larger diameter my not be graspable by the elderly if attempting to arrest a fall. The research also found that many of the subjects found that a handrail height of 850mm too high. What do other Standards or countries require? The latest ISO Standard, requires a maximum dimension of 45mm and a minimum dimension of 32mm in any direction. It permits a square shape provided that the corners are rounded to a 15mm radius. Thus, at its smallest the handrail would be essentially circular but at its largest a 15mm flat section would be possible. As there are no commercially available sections, that I am aware of, that meet this criteria, this would be limited to timber handrails. The American Standard permits a square/rectangular handrail, within dimensional limits, and requires the edges to be rounded (but there is no specified radius). This permits commercially available sections which tend to have a 2-5mm radius on the corners. The British Standard is similar to the ISO Standard but does not specifically indicate a square profile, just

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round and elliptical. Finally, the GATES Standard or Guide requires a circular profile 30-40mm in diameter or a non-circular profile with a maximum width of 57mm and a total perimeter dimension of 100-155mm. Interestingly, the GATES Guide shows an elliptical handrail with a vertical orientation, which the research would suggest is the least preferred option for gripability. So where does that leave us? It seems to me that like most things there is no single answer. Certainly, using AS 1428.1 is a safe option, but consideration of other sizes and profiles is possible and not unreasonable. I certainly don’t think that rectangular profiles should be excluded as the research seems to support their use. It is obvious that the size of the handrail probably should consider its context, for example, in seniors housing a smaller handrail than in a public building, but there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the ”standard” 50mm diameter is in fact too large for circular handrails and a size of 30-40mm is more graspable. This goes back to the photos earlier in this article of the hand profile.

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Australia’s only Type A inspection body accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) for slip resistance & recognised globally through the ILAC mutual recognition agreement to AS ISO/IEC 17020 for the inspection and conformity of slip resistance and luminance contrast testing.

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Summer 2022

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