Psychogeography of the Home A Disabled Perspective A Contextualised Analysis of the UK Accessible Housing Market Amy Francis-Smith MArch
Amy Francis-Smith S17139899 MArch Architecture 2018-2019 Year 6 Special Study ARC7212 (30 credits) Birmingham City University (BCU) Date of Submission: 28.01.19 Count: 18,053 words This document is presented to the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design at Birmingham City University as part of the Master of Architecture course.
For Terry Allen In loving memory of
fig. A (Allen, 2013-2016)
CONTENTS p. 7
Why Is A House Not A Home?
Psychological Impact of A House
Detrimental Physiological Effects
p. 19 Accessible Housing in The Built Environment Current State of The UK
Accessibility Issues The Role of The Housing Developer
p. 26 Societal Views on Disability – The Social Responsibility of Architects in The Built Environment p. 28 Ergonomic Influences On User-Led Architectural Design p. 30 The Role of Accessible Technology in The Home p. 37 Rationale for Case Studies – Accessible User-Led Design p. 38 Laurent House – Frank Lloyd Wright p. 44 Maison Á Bordeaux – Rem Koolhaas (OMA) p. 52 Ramp House – Chambers McMillan p. 63 Public Opinion on Case Studies p. 64 Conclusion Lessons From Existing Examples Finding A Balance in Bespoke Design
Education & Benefits of Accessible Housing Social Responsibility Technological Inclusion
Adopting User-Led Principles
p. 76 Appendices A-F p. 109 Correspondence p. 110 Bibliography p. 121 Illustration Referencing p. 128 Conferences & Events p. 129 Glossary
fig. 2b (Aspire, 2014) (DWP, 2016) (Habinteg, 2015) (Leonard Cheshire, 2014a) (Leonard Cheshire, 2014b) (Leonard Cheshire, 2014c) (Leonard Cheshire, 2015) (Myerson, 2017) (ODPM, 2002)
INTRODUCTION Across society disabled people face discrimination and exclusion, socially perceived as a minority group, which is strongly evident in their interaction with the Built Environment. The ‘Social Model’, now recognised as the main definition of disability, emphasises the blame on the structure of society both morally and physically for failing to provide the adaption for disabled people to participate as equals. This moves away from the historical ‘Medical Model’, where issues were placed on the individual to resolve (Hamraie, 2017: 12). “A social and environmental issue rather than a personal problem for certain individuals, this represents a cultural milestone away from the historical view of unfortunate crippled invalids.” (Imrie, 1996). Imrie writes this a year after the newly legislated Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Taking it one step further, to be ‘Architecturally Disabled’, is to be hindered and segregated by one’s surroundings, with the onus directly on the Built Environment to become more inclusive and reform where spatial exclusion has been built in. “One of the sources and sites of disabled people’s marginalisation and oppression in society relates to architects and architecture” (Butler and Parr, 1999: 23). A wheelchair user is less disabled when in a space with no stairs. The word ‘disability’ itself is loaded to be subconsciously negative associations. With its origins broken down, the Latin prefix ‘Dis’, meaning ‘apart’, is frequently associated with negatives in English formatives such as discontent, dishearten, dislike. To focus on ability merely highlights the lack of ability; an inability, an incapability, an incapacity, in other words, an otherness with an inherent lack of power or talent. The issue of access has started to be addressed by the construction industry primarily through equality legislation and additions to building regulations. The government sanctioned documents focus predominately on public buildings and infrastructure up to one’s front door, as well as space standards for social housing provision; however, they fail to address the private housing sector. Housing is one of the key areas that disabled people struggle with. The UK housing crisis has put great pressure on the country to provide decent affordable homes, but within that is a hidden accessible housing shortage (Leonard Cheshire, 2014b). The scarcity of provision means sourcing an accessible property either falls to councils or the individual to privately fund a conversion; but with house building in both sectors at record lows, the pressure for accessible housing stock intensifies. Most houses are designed around the perceived needs of able-bodied families with children. Due to the housing developer’s dominance in the housing market, the few accessible dwellings that are provided fit tightly within the current prescriptive requirements, with little opportunity for individualised accommodations; they are selling houses not homes, function not quality. Concentrating on the home is key to address the inequalities in the Built Environment; an emotive and personal space that is universally recognised by all of us as a place of sanctuary and refuge. This research focuses on the importance for more accessible housing, the psychogeography of the home, the types of qualities houses embody and how they can enhance enjoyment through the design of space. Equally exploring how poor building design in an inaccessible world can negatively affect the mental and physical health of a disabled occupant. Introduction 9
Psychogeography defined as “the study and discussion of how our environment influences our mood and our behaviour … there is nothing that really defines our experiences more than our psychological condition, our thoughts and our feelings. When designing an urban space, we must place the human condition at the forefront of our considerations and look at ways in which we can promote the feelings we wish to illicit in our designs.” (Marshalls, 2018). Inclusive design is dictated by guidelines which fail to inspire creative responses; the notion of disability as a key driver, rather than an afterthought complies with the building regulations, is rarely attempted by architects. By not engaging directly with the end user, generic designs trying to address all spectrums of access fail to fully accommodate an individual’s unique needs. The spatial qualities and disabled experience of the home will be explored using psychogeographic analysis, first hand interviews, self-directed qualitative surveys and quantitative data sourcing, as well as three case studies; to discuss the importance of an integrated approach to improve accessible affordable housing. When I use the phrase ‘disabled’, I am referring to those with physical mobility impairments, as the full spectrum of disability i.e. visually & hearing impaired, learning disabilities, dementia and the neurodiverse would be too broad to address in this body of text. Equally, the term ‘able-bodied’, I am referring to “people who are healthy and have no illness, injury, or condition that makes it difficult to do the things that other people do” (McIntosh, 2013).
fig. 1a (Ellis, 2016)
WHY IS A HOUSE NOT A HOME? “Houses set a tradition and those who move in come to terms with whatever the pattern of bricks and mortar, the layers of wallpaper, require. We are never more than an extension of the vessel that contains us … That was when we understood … how impossible escape was. You can’t leave the thing that you are, the house that has become your biography.” (Sinclair, 2009).
To nearly all animals for millennia, the concept of a home has been integral to survival. Be it warren, nest, cave or shelter, this space has been at the forefront of importance to protect from threats, to store food and to raise their young. As humans, we have created some of the most elaborate, environmentally responsive spaces; we are defined and shaped by the buildings we inhabit, and arguably none are more important than the home. The home is safety and security, warmth and reliability, the place we spend most of our lives, where we look forward to returning at the end of the day. “Home provides physical and psychological sanctuary. It has been a guardian of identity.” (De Botton, 2006: 11). There is a notable difference between a House and a Home. A house accommodates the basic needs and facilities; sleeping, cooking and washing under a protective covering from external threats. It is a space one dwells or takes refuge whilst removed from exposure; a home is expected to do all these things and yet provides so much more. A home is where you are living, rather than residing, there is a deeper emotional attachment beyond the basic needs of a daily routine. A home embodies domestic affections and its occupant’s personality. In a house, one is surviving, but a home gives you space to thrive. There are countless reasons as to what makes a home, the people who live with you, your family history, the garden you planted, the local community, displaying possessions, the freedom for personalisation. The feeling of character and charm. No two people will have the same experience but the principles of a Home are universal. “Associated with a set of positive values. We look to them for privacy, acceptance, comfort and intimacy.” (Ellard, 2015: 61). Our homes are an outward projection of our identity, personality and character. In the English language, the use of home goes beyond specifics, ‘the truth of the matter was brought home to her’, symbolising the home as an internal organ, as if the truth was brought to her heart. The idea of home has much stronger connotations than just bricks and mortar, but a sanctuary, a safe-haven, the dependable, reliable heart of our lives.
Why Is A Home Not a Home? 11
fig. 1b (Steinberg, 1949) The Art of Living
The proverbial maxim ‘A man’s home is his castle’ is a well-known phrase engrained into the British mind-set. Quite literally, homes are defended with fences and locks, a small fortress that keep out the bad and keeps in the good. The invisible public/private line is drawn from what we can all access to where only a select few may enter, unspoken laws of territory are drawn from a tribal instinct to protect our own. The house “has invisible powers of protection against forces that besiege it” (Ellard, 2015). The importance of the home is still relevant in our modern lives, although still vital for resting, learning, cooking, caring and playing; it changes as our concepts of work, travel and technology evolve. The house becomes an extension of ourselves, a prosthetic limb that aids mobility, a tool that helps us live.
Why Is A Home Not a Home? 12
PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF A HOME “A Home is not just somewhere we put ourselves on pause to recharge our batteries but should also be a place of self-expression and social fulfilment. A poor domestic environment can have profound consequences, damaging an individual’s health, limiting their prospects in education and employment and undermining their social interactions.” (Gilbert, 2018: 24).
fig. 2h (Bentham, 1995) Panopticon Prison
We have long known that the layout of buildings effects our psyche on a subconscious level. This is most evident in panopticon prisons, where the perception of constant monitoring and solitary confinement asserts an oppressive and relentless stress on the inmate (figure. 2h). “The way in which such settings are designed, exerts an influence on how we think and what we do … we feel and respond to the design of a building at an emotional level” (Ellard, 2015: 13). The benefits of a positive space are subconscious, inviting feelings of joy or peace, features like natural light, tall ceilings and views into nature promote wellness. We become more acutely aware of designs that have a negative impact; low ceilings, hierarchical segregation, dark spaces with little natural ventilation or connection with the outside put the mind on edge. “The building themselves may act against them … to foster withdrawal and alienation.” (Brebner, 1982: 128). The damage poorly designed, inaccessible spaces can do to a person is very real. The Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed “disabled people are often ‘demoralised’ and ‘frustrated’” with their housing situation (Gilbert, 2018: 25). By interviewing disabled people, I found many feel segregated and liken their inaccessible homes to prisons (Appendix A) (figure. 2a). They reported being grateful for sanctuary, a place for wellbeing and warmth but equally trapped and resentful of the house and surrounding area.
Psychological Impact of A Home 13
“Home is both a s afe sanctuary and also a limbo-like prison.” “My home is kind of Heaven and Hell. Hell because I'm trapped, but Heaven because it's a lso my s afe haven. i t's where I rest, and it's also where I'm in pain.”
“Before I had m y home adapted I was confined t o my bedroom upstairs & f elt i mprisoned. I could hear life going on without me downstairs & outside but couldn't be a part of it.” “I feel like a prisoner in my own home much of the time.”
“I have no emotional connection to my house as feels like a bit of a prison especially when I’m home alone.”
“My home is my prison. I'm unable to leave it on m y own because w e live on the side of a steep h ill and the access i s too steep f or the powerchair. W ithin the house the configuration makes it impossible t o manoeuvre in my chair so I have t o struggle around the house using a rollator which I mostly sit on and push along with my limited leg strength. I am unable to access the f ridge and cupboards and I cannot lift the kettle or carry a cup of tea from one room to another, so I need maximum care. A different, more open plan house, would give me much more freedom and would enable me to be a little more independent.”
“My home is now a prison.” “Home to me is my sanctuary, I don’t have to hide how I really feel and I can just be me. I spend more time and money on my house than myself, if it looks good I feel good. On the flip side home is also my prison, when things get too much and I need more rest my housework gets on top of me. I can’t cope with the stress a n untidy house b rings me. I can’t cope with the loneliness. I think too much and my mind goes i nto overdrive. S o when I’m out I j ust want to be home, and when I’m cooped up for days I just want to be out.”
“In some ways my home is my comfort where I feel safe and secure, i n other ways i t's my prison as I am unable to get out of the house on my own. I spend 6 days a week indoors.”
fig. 2a *Fictitious Names for Anonymity. Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix A)
Psychological Impact of A Home
“The design of domestic spaces exerts a steady impact on how we behave.” not only with ourselves but with the wider world (Ellard, 2015: 61). “Self-esteem is affected by the ability to participate in activities independently and successfully.” and is intrinsically tied to greater mobility and confidence (Brebner, 1982: 120). Without a basic level of dignity, disabled people are statistically more vulnerable and prone to the exposure of detrimental accommodation as many are housebound and at risk of depression and loneliness (figure. 2b). Becoming disabled can trigger a stark contrast in attitudes towards your home, rapidly changing as if a Jekyll and Hyde character. From a once loved comfortable home to a nightmarish restricting and strenuous environment, struggling to manage day-to-day tasks in a home once their ally. “Our love of our home is dependent on our feelings of control of the space … When we lose the struggle to achieve that kind of control, our love of home can die on the vine.” (Ellard, 2015: 73). Our requirements as to what constitutes a suitable home change as we move through life, be it halls of residence, a family home or downsizing due to decreased mobility or progressive aging. The practical consideration of lifestyle choices, and our aspirational desires match closely with the spaces we want to inhabit. But unless you are directly affected by disability, the notion of access is not usually a priority on sales listings; like gardens, parking or schools.
DETRIMENTAL PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS Repeated exposure to poor architecture can have a visceral effect on its inhabitants, if “we are forced to dwell in uncomfortable locations of high, perceived threats … that may produce mental pathologies or decrements to our physical health.” (Ellard, 2015: 126). It seems cruel to enforce negative designs on those who in varying degrees are already struggling with their bodily functions. Prolonged periods of stress have serious health consequences causing systemic inflammation, which supresses the immune system and promotes the development and progression of disease. “Raising our blood pressure, filling our bloodstreams with cortisol, and perhaps ultimately making us more vulnerable to both physical and mental illness.” (Ellard, 2015: 131). Stress is a normal response that helps us anticipate a perceived risk, an inbuilt mechanism to assess a threat, evade a predator and respond to it quickly. However, our over stimulating world triggers a heightened level of anxiety raising the body’s stress levels and eventually kicks the system into ‘Fight or Flight’ mode, first described by Walter Bradford Cannon (1915). Our physiological stress-responses have yet to adapt from the ancient to the modern world (De Palma et al., 2014) (McEwen, 2005). The anxiety triggered in the brain can cause physical symptoms to develop, which then creates a chronic cycle of mental and physical strain. The mind and body are intrinsically and holistically linked, to heal the body, the external stressors must be addressed.
Psychological Impact of A Home 15
Total Time Spent Indoors (86.9%) In a Residence (68.7%)
Outdoors (7.6)% In a Vehicle (5.5)% Other Indoor Location (11)% Office-Factory Bar - Restaurant (5.4%) (1.8%) fig. 2j (Bordas Eddy, 2017) NHAPS study - (Bordas Eddy, 2017) Where Americans Spend Most of Their Time
fig. 2e (Habinteg, 2015)
fig. 2f (Roys, 2012) Direct Health Benefits of Lifetime Homes
fig. 2g (Roys, 2012) Indirect Health Benefits of Lifetime Homes
Psychological Impact of A Home 16
“Stress contributes to many disabilities worldwide and represents a severe economic burden.” (De Palma et al., 2014). Excess exposure to the stress hormone cortisol can irreversibly change the gene expression of our DNA through epigenetic modifications, suggesting that how a person handles stress is both inherited and learned. The period of stress could not only affect one individual, but potentially pass on conditions and poor health onto their descendants (Wein, 2010). Architecture does not profess to cure all ailments, but sensitive responses can prevent further anguish. “Houses can invite us to join them in a mood which we find ourselves incapable of summoning.” (De Botton, 2006: 17). “Housing adaptations make a profound difference to disabled people. They dramatically improve quality of life, are essential for dignity and enable people to do the things we all take for granted.” (Enable, 2015). This can be seen clearly by respondents who reported such positive improvements to their lives once in a suitable home (figure. 2c, 2d & 10a), as well as the direct and indirect health benefits of accessible housing (figure. 2e, 2f & 2g).
“My home is completely set up to make me as i ndependent a s possible. With a w et room, grab rails, perching stoop, lever taps, a trolley to wheel things around on and an electric bed. I live in a very rural l ocation and t his helps m y mental health t remendously. Town life is too intense and too fast for me. Ideally, I would live in a cottage on the beach.”
MARCUS “My home is m y safe p lace - w here I can be who I need t o be and not f eel t he p ressure to live up to other's expectations. It i s well designed, s o I can move from room to room with in the knowledge that there is a place to sit as my legs often give way. It is owned by a housing association and that affords me access to care and support services provided by the landlord. These services have boosted my independence w hilst being s ensitive to m y daily and long-term needs. At the end of a day - I come home and feel happy to have a secure and safe place. This has only happened t his year and I struggled f or a long time in another p roperty w ithout s upport so value this situation more than ever.”
fig. 2d *Fictitious Names for Anonymity. Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix A)
Psychological Impact of A Home 17
“I have to leave my wheelchair outside and get around the house by holding on to furniture and using a stick, or crawling to get up the stairs. I don’t have the money to pay for a stair lift so wash in my kitchen sink, and use a bucket to go to the loo downstairs. I have been trapped without a ‘disabled-friendly’ home for ten years, and all I want is somewhere I can live independently with my family.” Councils Failing To Make Homes Safe For Disabled People - Enable Magazine 2015
“I waited nine years for suitable housing. Being washed in the kitchen is no fun. I was told we were on the waiting list so they couldn’t do any adaptions such as add a ramp at the front door for my wheelchair or install a stair-lift. We waited for five years and then were offered another property but this still didn’t meet my needs and I had to sleep in the dining room as there wasn’t space for the bed in the bedroom. I’m very happy with my house now: it has lowered counters, enough space to move my wheelchair and a wet room. But I don’t understand why it took almost a decade for me to get a house where I could sleep in my bedroom and wash in my bathroom.”
The Hidden Housing Crisis - Leonard Cheshire Disability 2014
“I haven’t been upstairs in my own house for two years, and I have to sleep in the lounge. I have a care worker who comes in the morning and helps me get washed at the kitchen sink, but there is no privacy – the neighbours can see in to where I wash, and I just want to have a bathroom where I can do these things The Hidden Housing Crisis - Leonard Cheshire Disability 2014 myself in private.”
“I was offered a job at Oxford council, and asked them to help me find a home in the area in order to get to work. But the only home I was offered was a two-storey house with no access to the top floor. It was miles from the city centre, and they couldn’t tell me if I could get my wheelchair on the buses in the area. It was extremely frustrating. I live in a wonderful property now, but I am trapped here because I simply cannot find comparable accommodation anywhere else. This prevents me from taking job opportunities and keeps me isolated. Working from home is the only practical way for me to be employed. Making changes to the fabric of existing houses or flats is financially impossible if I’m not in work but I need a certain standard of accommodation in order to be able to work – it’s a Catch 22 situation.”
No Place Like Home 5 Million Reasons To Make Housing Disabled-Friendly - Leonard Cheshire Disability 2014
“We sold the home my dad and husband built next door to my parents because I couldn’t do stairs anymore and we both had a long commute. We were very picky that we have 1 level, no basement. We also wanted to downsize. We found a brand new house with what we were looking for. We had the contractor change knobs to handles as I cannot turn knobs. That was 4 yrs ago. Since that move I’ve become bedridden and on good days I can shuffle to my daughter’s room. My home makes it possible for me to get around a bit better. We’ve added smart home features so I can turn on/off lights, fans, AC/heat from my bed. I can also see who’s at the front door, speak to them, and if needed unlock the door to let them in. My house is my whole world. I am lucky to have the funds to change things. While we are further away from family, on a good day I can shuffle anywhere I need to in my house.
In my old home it had become a prison. I’d go upstairs (a whole flight) when I got home from work and I couldn’t come back to the family area again. I still have anxiety thinking about how many times I’ve fallen up/down those stairs. It’s freedom. This home I’m in now is freedom.” AFS Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix X)
“My home is my safe place, somewhere I bought to share with my family and animals (we have several rescues). Accessibility wasn’t an issue when we purchased it. However, with my needs now changing, it certainly isn’t accessible now. We have a gravel drive on a slope with 2-3 steps down to a footpath around the house, then a large step into the house. Internal doors seem to be ok with width but external ones are too narrow. Also can’t get round the house in chair due to the layout of some of it.” fig. 2c *Fictitious Names for Anonymity. Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix A)
Psychological Impact of A Home 18
In Accessible Homes
In Inaccessible Homes
88 Reponses fig. 2ic Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix A)
Homeless/ Sofa Surfing
fig. 2ib Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix A) Respondents Approach Towards Accessible Housing
fig. 2ia Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix A) Respondents Who Mentioned Their Housing Circumstances
fig. 2id Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix A) Respondents Who Mentioned Concerns/Feelings About Their Home
Psychological Impact of A Home 19
â€œThey are disabled because the architect who designed the building did not anticipate their needs, or did not care about them.â€? (Goldsmith, 1997).
fig. 3n (Francis-Smith, 2018) Maggie Davis in Her Kitchen at Grove Road in 1976. First Social Housing Project to be Designed by Disabled People
Accessible Housing In The Built Environment 20
ACCESSIBLE HOUSING IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT “The home is our castle the place we are free to be ourselves … but when disability strikes, that same home can become a prison, presenting barriers, frustration and perils.” (Pierce, 2012: 6).
CURRENT STATE OF THE UK In 21st century Britain, housing remains as one of the most important and contentious points in the sociological framework. With a growing population, higher life expectancy rates and improved healthcare resources, demand continues to outstrip the current housing stock. Housing is seen as one of the ultimate consumer goods and ownership acts as a status symbol (Imrie, 2006). Whilst housing for the average able-bodied person is considered unaffordable and the idea of owning seems a long-off dream, then access to disabled housing is considerably worse (Leonard Cheshire, 2018). Accessible housing provides a space for people who fall outside the ‘typical’ bodily norms, when the standard housing provision fails to provide a convenient and safe non-disabling home environment. Hundreds of thousands of people every year will have to move house, spend thousands adapting their property to gain some dignity, autonomy and freedom to choose or risk becoming trapped in their own home (Leonard Cheshire, 2018) (United Nations, 2017). Private renters are most detrimentally affected due to the unwillingness of landlords to install adaptions or undergo structural work in their property (Abode Impact, 2018) (figure. 3l). Up until the 1970’s it was not unusual for a disabled person to live in a paternalistic institutionalised setting; often removed from their family unit and hidden away from mainstream education, typical life trajectories and the public at large. Due to leftover associations of the “lazy idiots”, “lunatics” and “cripples” in pauper workhouses or asylums, having a disable relative was seen as a social embarrassment who should be quietly removed from the home (Historic England, n.d.). Many 20th C. public figures supported eugenics, believing the disabled were “deficient”, a defective burden that was a threat to the “health of the nation” (Historic England, n.d.). Institutions misconstrued disability as a medical condition, rationalising their treatment as ‘care’ of the helpless, but many were subjected to abuse, isolation and extreme social control (United Nations, 2017) (figure. 3a). The Care in the Community legislation abolished hospital colonies, leaving the state to provide safe, accessible housing (1990).
Accessible Housing In The Built Environment 21
fig. 3a (Hunt, 1972) Paul Hunt, forerunner in the campaigning for Disability rights calling for the devolution of institutionalised accommodation for the ‘severely physically handicapped’
40 years on and councils and society at large are failing tenants throughout the country (figure. 2.b). Economic, societal, gendered and geographic disparity affect the quality of housing, with sporadic council provision, many are forced to rely on charitable foundations that aim to address the government’s shortcomings. The shortfall creates desperation, with tenants accepting substandard housing, grateful for just a few accessible features (Appendix A & B). Disability often brings financial hardship through difficulties in finding employment or reliant on benefits, consequently creating a fragile state that results in the disabled being disproportionately affected by homelessness (figure. 3b). “In a vicious circle, disability often leads to homelessness and homelessness, in turn, creates or exacerbates impairments and additional barriers linked to stigma and isolation.” (United Nations, 2017).
Homelessness UK 2010 - 2016
42,390 - 60,000
fig. 3b (Sparrow, 2016) Families and Disabled People ‘Hit Worse By Rising Homelessness’
Accessible Housing In The Built Environment 22
fig. 3i (Ryan, 2016) West Dunbartonshire council critised for excessive ramp installation
Approved Document M - Volume 1: Dwellings UK Building Regulations 2010
M4(1) Category 1: Visitable Dwellings Basic Requirement for all Newly Erected Buildings
M4(2) Category 2: Accessible & Adaptable Dwellings Optional Standards Determined by Local Planning Policy i.e. Lift Time Homes Space Standards
Greater London Authority require 90% of Accessible Homes are M4(2)
M4(3) Category 3: Wheelchair User Dwellings
Optional Standards Determined by Local Planning Policy
Greater London Authority require 10% of Accessible Homes are M4(3)
M4(3)(2)(a) Wheelchair Adaptable
Potential to be Easily Adapted for a Wheelchair User (No Alteration to Structure/Inaccessible Services)
M4(3)(2)(b) Wheelchair Accessible Suitable for Immediate Occupation by a Wheelchair User
The Accessible Standard Can Only Be Applied Where the Local Authority is Responsible for Allocating or Nominating a Person to Live in that Dwelling Only Applicable to Affordable Rented Housing Not Shared Ownership
fig. 3c Approved Document M - Volume 1: Dwellings UK Building Regulations 2010
ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES The wheelchair accessible housing provisions in Part M (2010), give guidelines for wheelchair ‘accessible’ and wheelchair ‘adaptable’ homes (figure. 3c). These however are only enforceable in social/ affordable housing and the homes actually delivered are at the mercy of individual councils or housing associations. The completion of both wheelchair and standard dwellings by local authorities have been dramatically dropping in the last 40 years (figure. 3m). The Lifetime Homes legislation (Goodman, 2011), backed by Habinteg Housing Association aimed to address the issue of growing old by providing basic accessible features within the new build property e.g. larger doorways, level access, downstairs wet rooms and structural accommodations for a future lift. The flexible concept proved to be popular saving families from moving at the point of acquiring a mobility impairment. Several councils wrote the standards into their local planning policy, but optional uptake was erratic across the country and the scheme lost momentum. Now largely incorporated into the newly formed optional Category. 2 Housing the principles remain but the name has subsided (figure. 3c). Although it doesn’t address the immediate needs for wheelchair users, it can with a relatively small outlay be converted into a functional accessible home. The benefit of the scheme is clear when the cost of adapting a standard home compared to a Lifetime Home, increases by over 400% (figure. 3d, 3e, 3f & 3g). Accessible Housing In The Built Environment
“We were due to have an access ramp put in from the back o f the house i nto the garden to enable my husband to have seamless access. The proposal from the council was f or a concrete turning c ircle, which would have meant d igging u p the a lready small garden. This would have not only looked ugly, but would have also devalued our home and j ust s eemed a n unnecessary expensive solution t o the problem. I f I wasn’t a confident person then w e would have ended u p with a fit for purpose but ugly, hospital l ike bathroom and half our garden missing.” fig. 3h (Crowther, 2018)
Lifetime Homes fall short of being truly inclusive however, predominately catering for mobility impairments over children, visual or neurological impairments and don’t legislate for wider design control features i.e. temperature, ventilation or lighting. There are also concerns about reporting the structural benefits to future owners, who may not be aware of the enhanced features. Private housing is one of the last areas of the Built Environment that remains untouched by accessibility regulations, so developers are under no obligation to build them. Funding and Disabled Facilities Grants (max £36,000 per person) are means tested, available for home adaptions to privately owning individuals (Gov.uk, 2018). Contractors with no architectural training propose layouts that can only be for the sole benefit of the disabled occupant; this often hinders the rest of the household, potentially devaluing the house (Appendix A, B & C) (figure. 3h & 3i). Not all disabled people are eligible for funding grants due to means testing, so many families are left to raise the money to cover their own adaptions, or are forced to sell and move. Prospective free market home buyers cannot always afford to purchase outright and are often dependant on the welfare state. By failing to build supply at the rate of demand, it is leaving people in spaces that directly affect not only their mental but physical health. Providing more accessible homes would alleviate some strain on the NHS with thousands blocking beds because they have no accessible home or support outside of hospital. Alleviating the social care chain could save the NHS £3 billion per year (Coates, 2018). Equally, it has been documented that with even small adaptations, the length of time before needing to enter a social care facility increases; allowing people to stay living at home and reducing the care costs (Leonard Cheshire, 2014a). Better housing would also relieve the pressure on the 1.4 million people who provide over 50 hours of unpaid care per week, often close relatives, freeing them to gain paid employment and boost the economy (Carers UK, 2015). Lifetime Homes - TRL Saving Costs to Society (Over the 60-year Expected Lifespan of the Building)
Than an Average New Build
Converted to Full Accessibility
fig. 3f (Roys, 2012)
fig. 3d (Leonard Cheshire, 2015)
Accessible Housing In The Built Environment 24
2 bed (4 pers)
3 bed (4 pers)
3 bed (5 pers)
Base build area Extra-over area Extra cost (£)
72.5m2 4.47m2 £1615
78.9m2 3.78m2 £1570
85.00m2 3.00m2 £1435
fig. 3e (Gommon, 1999) Lifetime Homes Additional Costs Compared To Equivalent Standard New Build
£273 £550 £521
1 Night in an NHS Hospital 1 Week’s Residential Care (average) New 3 Bed House Built from Cat. 1 (Visitable) to Cat. 2 (Accessible)
fig. 3g (CAE, 2015)
2% 89% Major Improvement Slight Improvement No Improvement
fig. 3j (ODPM, 2005) Quality of Life Improved After Accessible Home Adaptations
fig. 3k (Habinteg, 2015)
Accessible Housing In The Built Environment 25
THE ROLE OF THE HOUSING DEVELOPER In recent decades UK private speculative housing developers have dominated the residential market, trading houses as economic assets rather than acknowledging the psychology need of the end user. Reluctant to adopt an accessible house-type without legislative requirement, as smaller standard homes still sell and return a profit. With financial pressures from the economic climate in the last decade, some are concerned that implementing further space standards would result in a reduction in housing quality. Although alteration costs are nominal, land prices and area requirements would result in an average loss of 2 dwellings to every 50 (Imrie, 2006: 54). The Home Builders Federation recently lobbied against more accessible housing standards; questioning the validity of the predictions of an ageing population meaning an increased demand for accessible housing; pushing self-interested profits over social conscience (Booth, 2018b). Developers, however, have failed to recognise the vast untapped potential in an accessible buyer’s market. “Property values plummet with poorly conceived alterations … are enhanced with a well-designed home, and the pool of potential buyers increases when that home is also accessible.” (Pierce, 2012: 5 – 10). “Today’s typical developer buys a plan created by an architect and then goes about tweaking it to fit a spreadsheet of price points that lead to the greatest profit … And if the developer can mass-produce house after house, the cost per unit goes down, the material cost goes down and a predictable profit is made on every home. Why would a developer build a one-of-a-kind universal design home when he can knock out so many at a sweet profit margin?” (Bullers, 2015). “Developers regularly cut corners and flout accessibility regulations, often without facing any legal action or informal admonishment from local authorities.” (Gilbert, 2018: 25). Without stronger consequences, developers feel no pressure to deliver accurate schemes; perhaps incentives such a tax breaks to entice builders would be more effective.
fig. 3m (ODPM, 2002) Completion of Wheelchair Dwellings in England by Local Authorities, 1970-96
fig. 3l (Ryan-Collins, Lloyd and Macfarlane, 2017) New Homes Built by Tenure in UK
Accessible Housing In The Built Environment
VISION 1.8 million
HEARING 1.9 million
DEXTERITY 3.7 million
LEARNING 1.8 million
MENTAL HEALTH 2.9 million
STAMINA/ BREATHING/ FATIGUE 5.1 million
MEMORY 2.1 million
SOCIAL/ BEHAVIOURAL 1.0 million MOBILITY 7 million
WHEELCHAIR USER 1.2 million
AMBULANT 5.8 million
Architectural responses i n the Built E nvironment a re m ost able to address the physical needs of those with a mobility impairment. Wheelchair users, a lthough a small % suffer h igher p roportions o f architectural discrimination, segregation & exclusion.
Accessible Housing In The Built Environment
fig. 4a (Gov.uk, 2015)
SOCIETAL VIEWS ON DISABILITY: THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF ARCHITECTS IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT “Disability is neither ‘a state of mind’ to be overcome through heroic struggle or cultural change, and nor is it biologically determined. Instead, a historical-geographical perspective casts disability as a socio-spatial construction of the impaired body that can vary over space and time.” (Butler and Parr, 1999: 100). Disability is prevalent throughout the UK yet our youth orientated culture creates deniability to the fragility of life, believing it is something that happens to ‘other people’. “People age differently but physical decline is inevitable: 45% of the UK population over state pension age is disabled in some way.” (Myerson, 2017). Humans don’t like to be reminded of their inevitable mortality, reminders that the body may be degrading goes against the pervasive notion that health and vitality are the ideal. Consequently, the disabled have been negatively impacted and discriminated against; marred with the stigma of ‘other’ or ‘less than’ and controlled via institutions, pitied and oppressed socially, economically and architecturally. Unable to represent themselves in an ableist system that did not cater for their needs and where public platforms were held in inaccessible buildings. Our culture is now shifting to a socially responsible and inclusive atmosphere for many minority subgroups, but the fabric of the Built Environment struggles to upgrade at the same pace. Wheelchair users are most likely to experience architectural discrimination and architects are in the best position to help resolve inaccessible fabrics (figure. 2b, 4a & 4c). “You can look at Housing developed in a particular period and relate it to the vision of society at that time … that meets the society needs … the point where homes have to reflect these cultural values that we as a society are moving on taking much more interest in … the goal is to create a model that makes that a concentric part of future housing. It’s about creating a place that people love to be, that actually meets their needs in every area of their lives.” (Helen Hamlyn, 2010). Disability activism is a low-key political movement, unlike the loud disruptive protestations of the Suffragettes and the Civil Rights Movement, the disabled collective has yet to reach peak pervasive inclusion in the public or constitutional mind-set. Through greater visibility and reasonable adjustments, stereotypes will gradually change; by having disabled people in positions of power, they will be able to alter the system from the inside. Creating a more inclusive, considerate, dignified and accessible world will benefit everyone; flexibility and independence allows every intersection of society to feel comfortable and confident in finding their own voice unaided in the world. “Recognising diversity as a strength that makes households and communities thrive.” (United Nations, 2017). Societal Views on Disability 28
8/10 are not born disabled
1 in 5 people (19%) in UK are disabled
acquired at some point during their life
fig. 4d (DWP, 2014)
fig. 4e (Leonard Cheshire, 2014)
“The key features of accessibility level access, flush thresholds, wide doors and entrance level toilets are only found in 5% of homes in England … Studies indicate 16% of homes would need major structural alteration to become fully accessible, and in 28% of homes alteration would not be feasible” fig. 4ci (Myerson 2017: 67)
5% housing has basic access 27.2 million homes in UK - 1.36 million are accessible
Equivalent size of 12/32 London Boroughs
are in need of accessible housing
fig. 4cii (Statistica, 2018)
UK disabled people
fig. 4b (Abode, 2018)
Societal Views on Disability 29
ERGONOMIC INFLUENCES ON USER-LED ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN
fig. 5a (da Vinci, c. 1487) Vitruvian Man
fig. 5b (Le Corbusier, 1945) Le Modulor
fig. 5c (Dreyfuss, 1969) The Measure of Man
There are many who feel the Built Environment should cater for the majority, which in turn means minorities must adapt, cope and compensate. Architects, using models of the Vitruvian Man (figure. 5a) and Le Corbusier’s Modulor Man (figure. 5b) have sculpted the world to an idealised standard “infused with (male) gender, class, and the embodiment of health and normality.” (Imrie, 2001: 23). “A typical standardised, normal man: two legs, two arms, a head.” (Le Corbusier, 1925: 33). “No building can possess the attributes of the composition … unless there exists that perfect conformation of parts which may be observed in a well-formed human body.” (Vitruvius, 1960) Corbusier believed “since all men have the same biological organisation, they all have the same basic needs.” and he troublingly supported eugenics for part of his life (Le Corbusier, 1947: 22) (Brott, 2017) (López-Durán and Moore, 2015). But the Modulor Man measurements “do not represent the diversity, form and shape of all bodies” and have been translated by wilfully ignorant professionals into physical barriers for disabled people (Butler and Parr, 2016: 252). “Architectural form and the built environment are simultaneously ableist and disablist by ignoring and/or denying the multiplicities of the human body” (Butler and Parr, 2016: 23). The unconscious assumption of able-bodiedness has penetrated architectural theory and praxis “the dehumanising and disabling elements of Modernist ideas are evident” throughout (Imrie, 1996: 84) (Hamraie, 2017). Scientific rationalism and technical standards, similar to the efficiency of factories and business, were deployed into mass housing for layout and functional efficiency, rather than the needs of everyday life. The outcome is generic nuclear design with a fixed biological performance and psychological need, devoid of connection to the occupant and inflexible to cope with changes in living patterns; putting the disabled to the margins of architectural and societal consciousness (Imrie, 2006). The application of scientific management was evident in the early 20th C. by the work of female ‘domestic engineers’ such as Beecher and Frederick, disappointed with the ignorance of male architects, they pioneered internal house planning and ‘home economics’. Ergonomic Influences on User-Led Architectural Design 30
Historically the household was the workplace of women, and much like a factory, good organisation increased efficiency; home was the one place women had a resemblance of control and freedom, making it a Feminist issue. “The masculine idea of the home was primarily sedentary – the home as a retreat from the cares of the world, a place to be at ease. The feminine idea of the home was dynamic; it had to do with ease, but also with work.” (Rybczynski, 1997: 161). Housewives often encountered opposition when trying to negotiate internal layouts or furniture arrangements for their own homes, ignoring the practical efforts of its principal user (Beecher, 1841). Although heteronormative roles and domestic chores are becoming more equally distributed in a 21st C. household, comparisons can be made with disabled users having designs imposed on them with little or no consultation. This patriarchal and ableist mind-set that the designer knows best, and the subsequent failing of layouts, only reiterates the importance of dialogue between inhabitant and architect. Frederick’s direct observations of women in the house formed the basis of ergonomic studies and the standardisation of furniture dimensions especially in the kitchen, to efficiently streamline daily tasks, eliminate stooping and reduce fatigue (Frederick, 1923). These findings became part of the standard design psyche to create convenient functional items to best fit the human body. It is important to note that Beecher and Frederick’s observations of women in the home were almost exclusively focused on white, middle class, abled-bodied women with the luxury of privilege. The results were collated without acknowledging the work of poorer women especially those of ethnic minorities, who typically were the staff that worked away in other people’s homes. Through technological advances, household gadgets have been indispensably timesaving for women; a once oppressed minority, the improvements have allowed new freedoms for women now able to enter the workforce. A comparative pattern of ergonomics and gadgets in homes of the disabled, who if given the right facilities, will then be free to pursue opportunities without restriction. Architects must become more skilled at interpreting heterogeneity of the disabled form and consider alternative ergonomic body types (figure. 5d & 5e).
fig. 5d (Carpentier, 2011) Measure(s) of Man: Architects’ Data Add-on
fig. 5e (Carpentier, 2011) Re-interpretation of the Modulor by Le Corbusier
fig. 5f (Wellcome Library, 1944)
Ergonomic Influences on User-Led Architectural Design 31
THE ROLE OF ACCESSIBLE TECHNOLOGY IN THE HOME “Comfort in the home was something that could be achieved with the help of machinery” (Rybczynski, 1997: 137-138). A tool is used as an extension of the body, to enable tasks previously unachievable without assistance; architecture, too, is a prosthetic, a device that permits the body movement which would otherwise not be possible. Assistive technologies have used these principles for centuries by compensating for impairments and enhance the lives of the disabled. Fundamental assistive tech has largely been absorbed into the public consciousness, no longer seen as specialist equipment but universally integrated, enabling all in society (figure. 6a). “Technologies that reduce the load on the able-bodied are regarded as natural extensions of the design, but the moment that individuals are marked as disabled … the technologies designed to make their life easier are viewed as expensive additions, unnecessary accommodations, and a burden on society.” (Boys, 2014). Through technological advancements in global communication and affordability, we now experience integrated devices, a domestic ‘Internet of Things’ providing new levels of comfort within the home (figure. 6d). As predicted by Ray Bradbury (1950), the interconnectivity of household appliances offers new potentials for building automation, personalised atmosphere control and a more involved interaction with architecture. “Home automation also exemplifies the linkage between technological development and Society’s perceptions of Disability. If people can live independently in their homes using tech, then they do not see themselves as disabled. Furthermore, Society does not see them as disabled.” (Elandson, 2008: 124). Environmental psychologists, by studying humans interacting at home, have created sensors to track lifestyle routines, comfort levels and respond to certain stimuli. We are starting to experience control systems for internal climates, healthcare providers monitoring symptoms linked to familial communication and reduces energy wastage, loneliness and potentially save lives (figure. 6a).
fig. 6ai (Business Insider. 2015) Long Term Price Trends for Electronic Goods and Services Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Role of Accessible Technology In The Home 32
Turning Point In The Evolution of Manâ€™s Relationship and Potential With Technology
Phonograph Glasses Wheelchair Hoists Electricity Ramp Stick/Cane Telephone Grab Rails Typewriter PIR Lights Lift Stair Lift Television Scooter Electric Wheelchair Subtitles Electric Plug Timers Teletext Motion Sensors Teasmade Audiobooks Hearing Aids Mechanical Talking Watches Curtains Remote Control
Rise & Fall Chairs Catalyst for Global Communication and Connectivity. New Opportunities to Interact With Humans and Machines
Mechanical Ventilation CCTV Climate Control Self-Drying Showers Robot Hoover Touch Screen
CURRENT TECH Gesture Recognition Cloud Computing
Smart Cleaning Toilets
On-Person Health Trackers
Smartphones Real Time Speech Into Text
Video Doorbells 3D Printing
Smart Bed-Turning Sore Prevention Smart Bulbs Voice Activated Devices
Braille Smartwatch Internet of Things
Physical Manifestation of Cloud Computing Devices and Objects That Talk To One Another Relaying Info Between Themselves. Automatically Controlling and Adapting Environments
VR Headsets Google Glasses Face Tracking Eye Tracking Software
Smart Home Temperature Control Driverless Cars Carbon Footprint Energy Tracker
Bio-Adaptive Lighting Control
Social Network of Care High End Advanced Sensors Subdermal Health Monitors Walls as Screens Mind Reading Headset Self-Ordering Fridge Remote Medical Intervention Mood Responsive Sensors
fig. 6a (Francis-Smith, 2019)
The Role of Accessible Technology In The Home 33
“My husband is a software engineer and a fabulous nerd so when I became disabled his way of dealing with it was to make the those as automated as possible. We have voice controlled lights all over the house with variable light levels and motion detecting lights in the kitchen. The doorbell is connected to my phone so I can speak to whoever is there, though that is sometimes a bit hit and miss. The TV works by voice control which is great because I can't see the menus. It's all based on the Amazon echo system through which I listen to my music, my Audiobooks, the news and weather, set timers etc. I'm visually impaired as well as a wheelchair user so I use my phone audio to do my reading and most of my writing. We have installed a through floor lift which has finally given me access to upstairs and I'm back in my own bed. I make all my GP appointments online and order my repeat medication that way; I tend to have phone calls with my GP and then get a face to face if they need that - it works well for me and I wish hospital consultants would do the same. Technology is an absolute life saver for me and I'm not sure if I'd have much quality of life as a visually impaired wheelchair user without it. I can go out in my powerchair using my phone and headset as a navigator, it's amazing. As for tech to identify mood - I think it's a great idea although that would need to be highly personalised to work well because everyone has different ways of showing low mood and responds to different activities.” “I was recently considering online psychotherapist consultations, but I don't think i would want to access other healthcare online.” “One of the biggest thing that helps with my mood is lighting. I use a SAD light box which is great but I always thought it would be great to have something that opens the curtains automatically when the sun comes up to fill the room with natural light.” “As a teenager my iPad and profiling bed are vital to my quality of life because it allows me to do normal teenage stuff and the things I love like creating music whilst being comfy and able to contact my parents.” “Once this technology is brought into my house I will be able to use my home more and I will be able to get around my block and walk my dogs. I also have a Tempur-pedic mattress that moves like a hospital bed. Has saved me on many occasions. I couldn’t live without the new technology in cars for cruise control. Amazing just amazing!!!!! I now need to look for a new vehicle that will allow me to bring my mechanical wheelchair.” “Many of us develop Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity, and even if we don't, wireless technology is subjecting us to a lot of microwave radiation that can cause other health issues, so we should really use wired devices as much as is possible.” “In my home key accessible gadgets are pretty low tech – ramps to get in the front door – simple but so essential for me as a wheelchair user. ” “What helps me most is at home shopping, Amazon and Grubhub. I don’t have the energy for stores” “If there was tech that could spot the warning signs and automatically alert me and change the lighting accordingly, that would be amazing!” fig. 6b Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix C)
The Role of Accessible Technology In The Home 34
“Smart home technology can enable remote monitoring, giving older people and their caregivers a greater degree of flexibility and choice.” (Myerson, 2017). Home Awareness Systems are becoming more sophisticated in an effort to reduce loneliness and the risk of accidents, maintain independence and alleviate pressures on social care and potentially saving lives. As these technologies continue to develop it becomes easier to envisage homes that recognise feelings of illness or low mood which adjusts lighting, closes blinds, plays music, suggests a walk or alerts support networks; measuring subtle physiological changes and responding in real time to improve wellbeing. “Imagine a home that knows when you are beginning to feel depressed and responds accordingly by engaging you in an encouraging conversation or by suggesting an activity that could brighten your mood, perhaps even alerting your flesh-and-blood friends if things begin to look dire.” (Ellard, 2015 p.77). Disabled people have long welcomed inclusive aids and disability has led to some of the most significant inventions in the modern age (figure. 6a) (Pullin, 2011). Disabled inventors such as Ralph Braun and Ralf Hotchkiss used their personal experiences with unsuitable provisions to create products which now benefit thousands. The key to assistive tech assimilating into the mainstream is the aesthetic style, specialist equipment has long been separate from the concerns of product design, the medicalised old-fashioned options stand out in an otherwise stylish home. Mobility aids are often seen to devalue homes and are removed on resale, losing a once accessible property; if the adaptions were seamlessly discrete, they would become a desirable feature. “[I] would rather have a more stylish environment. Husband is an Architect, working unlike me as I am too ill. He gets frustrated with my mobility aids being ugly … There is a huge market out there for aids that are delightful and useful.” (Appendix A). However, some take issue with tools that appear to overcome or eradicate disability, making them achieve able-bodied standards rather than accepting bodily differences as part of their identity. “Assistive technologies are corrective of, and compensatory mechanisms for, the loss of bodily functions, and are derived from a value system that seeks to change disabled people into ‘normal’ human beings” (Imrie, 2006: 36). Disguised assistive aids and hiding disability indicates that there is something to be ashamed of. Domestic assistive tech brings widespread benefit, easily fitted into established dwellings so are able to reach a greater number of people whilst the accessible housing provision is still low. Tech should not be overestimated, they’re critical tools to facilitate life, enhancing housing quality but there is a limit to how far tech can flex for the user; a dichotomy of Le Corbusier’s ‘machine for living in’ (1927). “The extent to which assistive technologies will enhance usability of dwellings, hence raising the quality of habitation, depends in part on designers being sensitive to users needs … Tech does not challenge underlying structure, values or operations of architectural and construction professionals” (Imrie, 2006: 35). The Role of Accessible Technology In The Home 35
As the ideal 21st C. home is explored, there will inevitably be uncomfortable and difficult truths to address. With all new technologies, come concerns, mistrust, risk and the potential to be hacked for nefarious purposes. Governing bodies set parameters and laws around invasive processes, yet with every new acceptance of interference, we lose a connection to our primitive self. One may argue that by allowing technology to “invade … our last bastion of refuge”, the home will be lost as “the most intimate and private space that most of us will ever know” (Ellard, 2015: 78). Society continues to grapple with the notions of “privacy, autonomy and authority” in a world where the desire for natural reality and virtual fiction blur (Benjamin, 1936: 40). Daily tasks can be eased bringing more time, energy and confidence, but it may not change disabled lives significantly; it cannot transcend the dominant physical realm of architecture. “Technical flexibility, as a potential basis for the development and propagation of housing quality, is likely to be limited.” (Imrie, 2006: 36). The more complex a component, the higher chance of failure. Many disabled people are concerned, not only with the price of equipment but the over-reliance on technology that could breakdown (Appendix C). To rely solely on tech for accessibility needs could cause serious issues and the cost implications are more likely to affect the disabled (figure. 6b) (Appendix C). To create a holistically accessible property, architects must address the core needs of the user in simplistic, inexpensive and flexible architectural moves, along with an integrated technical strategy, a symbiotic relationship of the fundamental and the virtual.
fig. 6d (CAE, 2015) Assistive Technologies in The Homes of The Elderly
The Role of Accessible Technology In The Home 36
“Tech has improved her life dramatically, not only can she use her chair to get out the house and gain back independence but we also have had our kitchen adapted so she can use the stove safely from her chair, remote control windows and an inflatable bath lift which have all been a huge help! If we had the money we would have everything possible that was disabled user friendly, unfortunately many disabled people in need of this equipment are too unwell to work to save up for it which seems to be the catch 22. In regard to tech that responds to your symptoms I think the extra light would be helpful but as for alerting loved ones and doctors I know my mum would hate it haha, she likes to be as independent as possible and decide herself when she wants the help which is totally understandable.” “Having a device that would alert family ICE contacts or emergency services would be extremely helpful and ease a lot of anxiety, a problem which tends to exasperate already disabled people.” “I do use email and skype a huge amount for work – and this is helpful, but I wouldn’t want to do most of my medical appointments by skype – I know only too well how easy skype is to fail and I would also have concerns about security/confidentiality. However, I do use online shopping extensively – particularly for grocery shopping – and for me this is an essential energy saver.” “We re-mortgaged and had a lift installed last month and I'm back in love with our home; I'm able to get everywhere again and we are able to be a family everywhere again.” “What has helped me indirectly is a cell phone so my kids can check on me any time. They also can see where I am when I go grocery shopping & they think I've been gone too long.” “I do use email and skype a huge amount for work – and this is helpful, but I wouldn’t want to do most of my medical appointments by skype – I know only too well how easy skype is to fail and I would also have concerns about security/confidentiality. However, I do use online shopping extensively – particularly for grocery shopping – and for me this is an essential energy saver.” “A powerdoor is brilliant but once broken is usually doubly heavy. As you well know disability doesn’t take a day off so equipment that always works is pretty much essential.” “My home key accessible gadgets are pretty low tech – ramps to get in the front door – simple but so essential for me as a wheelchair user.” “I would love a stair lift but can’t afford one!” “Everything we can control by our smart phones (lights, door locks, even cooking apparatus), doorbell connected to light, changing some countertop heights ... I use Free Libre (and send in my glucose info to my doctor), my CPAP can be checked by my doctor remotely, some testing can be done from home, pulled down cupboards, locked box (safe) for medicine, I use a grabber to get my clothes out of the washer (I can’t reach it otherwise), I asked for a Roomba hoover(not sure if I’ll get one), , I missed my last pain management appointment and thought of calling them today to see if we could FaceTime/video chat appointment” “We have used the Amazon Alexa as an intercom system. If she needed help during the night with rescue meds.” fig. 6c Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix C)
The Role of Accessible Technology In The Home 37
fig. B (Hershey, 1991) Front cover inspired by the artwork and poems by Laura Hershey (1962-2010), a poet, journalist and disability rights activist. In The Way: ADAPT Poems
Rationale for Case Studies 38
RATIONALE FOR CASE STUDIES: ACCESSIBLE USER-LED DESIGN
The case studies focus on wheelchair users in architecturally designed, new build, private dwellings; this provides a fair critical comparison of how the design language approaches the issue of access for the same type of mobility impairment. Although wheelchair users only make up 1.8% of the UK population and within that are further spectrums of ability; there are still 1.2 million people who are often the most adversely affected by spatial exclusion in and around the home (NHS, 2018) (figure. 4a). There are many private homes that have been adapted independently, but with the intention to discover if the input of an architect, trained as a placemaker for all, provided a deeper and more thoughtful response to the notion of disability in the home. The private sector also offers more opportunity for bespoke tailoring and pushes creative innovation. Each clientâ€™s disability arose through different circumstances, each with their own mobility criteria, but all found the negative impact of inaccessible spaces and the lack of decent provision forced them to commission a suitable home. Only one house is based in the UK, but there is fair comparison in the westernised training, and access standards available to the three architects. The timeframe and societal attitudes are important to consider when the schemes were completed (1948 â€“ 2012), the size of site, as well as the ranging scale of budgets; partly subsidised from the government to high-end bespoke fit-out. The case studies represent the 3 core modes of wheelchair access and level change [ramp, lift and bungalow] each with its own benefits, spatial dynamics and integrated technical complexities. Approaching disability as a design driver in varying depths, the success of the case studies are explored through the architectsâ€™ collaboration with the end users.
Rationale for Case Studies 39
LAURENT HOUSE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT $20,000 budget ($154m2) Inflation from 1946 to 2019 - $258,500 ($1988m2) [+1192.5%] 130m2 – 244m2 2 bed 1 bathroom – (Extended to: 3 bed home 2 bathroom) Commissioned 1946 Completed 1952 – extended 1960 1.3 acre plot 4646 Spring Brook Road, Rockford, Illinois USA Frank Lloyd Wright’s 3-bedroom Laurent House in Rockford, Illinois, has gentle flowing curves and low panoramic 50ft windows that frame the exterior vista; similar to his other Usonian hemicycle elliptical bungalows. Uniquely it is the only home Wright designed to cater for full wheelchair access. Cited by Wright himself as “my little gem”, in his personal top 35 schemes; it is arguably one of his finest residential designs which is often overlooked; the practical style is not grandiose, but client focused. The smallest of details provide a functional but comfortable, human centered fully accessible home; designed to be appreciated from a seated position, with space to turn. Wright’s fame and the unique nature of the house has listed it the National Register of Historic Places and now offers unique guided tours as a museum. “You can tell when a home is retrofitted with rails and bars, looking at the Laurent House, you’d never know that it was designed for someone in a chair.” (Massie, 2014). Kenneth and Phyllis Laurent, a young couple married in 1941, were inspired by House Beautiful’s 1946 magazine feature on Wright; believing Wright’s tendency for open play layouts with few partitions and flowing spaces would be ideal to manoeuvre a wheelchair (figure. 7a). The Specially Adapted Housing program awarded him $10,000, half of their budget towards building a suitable home. Post WWII, there were no national programmes for accessible dwellings but institutionalised residential homes in medical settings or grants with the onus on the individual to resolve issues. Laurent was living in specialised veterans’ facility that, unlike typical disabled units, offered rehab and training programs for 3 years prior to commissioning Wright. Separated from his wife Phyllis who lived with her parents until the house was completed in 1952. “Ken … growing impatient that Wright had not yet designed the house. Wright kept responding that Ken should remain patient that he would be pleased with the outcome … Finally, Ken wrote that he had been confined to a hospital for five years and needed his house.” (Massie, 2014). Its rumoured Wright designed the whole house within half an hour, using their instructions and knowledge from meeting the Laurents once prior (figure. 7b). Although fairly detailed with their Laurent House - Frank Lloyd Wright
fig. 7a (Francis-Smith, 2018) (Wright, 1949) Frank Lloyd Wright’s original plan for The Laurent House - Able-bodied Domains
requirements, Wright invited them to come visit him at Taliesin in Spring Green, WI, about a 2-hour drive from Rockford. He also recommended they visit the Jacobs House in Madison, Wisconsin, a similar Usonian style affordable private bungalow and requested a further list of the couple’s needs (Laurent House Museum, 2019) (figure. 12a). “We can never make the living room big enough, the fireplace important enough, or the sense of relationship between exterior, interior and environment close enough, or get enough of these good things I’ve just mentioned. A Usonian house is always hungry for the ground, lives by it, becoming an integral feature of it.” (Frank Lloyd Wright Sites, n.d.)
The success and legacy of the home could be attributed to the interactions, communications and observations between the client and architect that allowed personalised data to be gathered. This contributed towards a thoughtful provision that suited both Phyllis and Kenneth’s lifestyle and ability; yet not overly tailored to one family, the house remains generic enough to suit families beyond the Laurents. It is often wrongly assumed that because Laurent served in the Navy during WWII that his injuries were sustained during battle, however he was left paralysed following surgery in 1946 to remove a spinal tumour. Disabled veterans tend to command more respect from society, as they have heroically served for their country compared to disabled civilians who are merely unfortunate. It was important to Wright that a man who served his country was ‘taken care of’ and embraced the challenge of access, but society’s attitude to disabled civilians were less generous.
fig. 7c (Serlin, 1934) Disabled veterans of the First World War demonstrating for increased pensions and benefits on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris. Photograph taken circa December 1934
fig. 7d (Historic England Archive, c. 1950) A man in a wheelchair is pushed up a ramp into the back of a waiting van run by The Not Forgotten Association, a charity for disabled army veterans, in front of the railings of Buckingham Palace
fig. 7e (Kenneth and Marc in the garden, 1954) Landscaped surroundings previously a dairy farm and became a residential development. There is now a wooded lot at the back of the residential yard.
Laurent House - Frank Lloyd Wright 41
fig. 7b (Kendall, 2015) Photocopy of the letter the Laurents sent to Wright, with their proposal requirements.
fig. 7f (Wright 20, 2011) Exterior views of the approach, driveway & lawned backgarden. Sheltered carport & level access. Earth tones of Red Cyprus & Chicago brick tie into natural surroundings. Low squat heavy bungalow close to ground, trees on vertical axis.
fig. 7g (Wright 20, 2011) Benched area overlooking fishpond & walled garden. Accessible pull cord tassels for lighting, full height curtains on continous runners, roller blinds for additional adjustable shading - easily moved to suit wheelchair users. Finely crafted woodwork.
fig. 7h (Wright 20, 2011) Corner of the bedroom fig. 7i (Trystcraft, 2018) Chilfloating without typical structural column drenâ€™s bedroom & bathroom supports. Low ceiling not overbearing as painted extension with in-built floating white, with downlighter and panoramic glass storage to accomodate wheelwindows. Heavy structure concealed deeper in chair footrest. Simple, exposed, the plan. Angled roof drainage, wooden custom ceramic square light fixtures to furniture. save costs.
Laurent House - Frank Lloyd Wright 42
fig. 7j (Michele, 2014) One of two panels at the house done by Taliesin Apprentice Ling Po in the homeâ€™s original interioir upholestery colouts of yellow, green, orange and Cherokee reds. Inbuilt office desk & cupboards at wheelchair height. Husband and wife vanity dressing table & mirror. Terracotta tiles run internally & externally.
“Wounded veterans were seen as symbols of enormous personal sacrifice to the nation-state, and as such occupied an esteemed position in the social hierarchy of disability since their bodily differences were equated with tropes of patriotic citizenship and domestic care giving.” (Boys, 2017: 16) (figure. 7c & 7d). Wright often persuaded clients to build their homes within a landscaped setting, believing nature provided ‘grace notes’ for buildings. Their original 100ft x 145ft city plot Wright thought too urban, instead urged them to relocate to the country “where there was more acreage with trees and meadows”. Following the guidance, they bought a rural 1.3 acre. “It was just about the best advice he ever gave me.” (Pfeiffer and Larkin, 1993: 222) (figure. 7e). This was a risky move for Wright, although with good intentions and considerate for the low-lying needs of a wheelchair user. He had an agenda for curating his build portfolio. The Usonian bungalows would have been hard to achieve on a small suburban plot. His arrogant suggestions show an unawareness of the needs of the disabled; such as financial implications, lack of local accessible infrastructure and losing a community support network. His homes were typically nestled in amongst a small hold of land with sheltered perimeters and mature trees to screen views, with generous natural materials and large uninterrupted glass windows to reinsert man into nature (figure. 7f).
fig. 7k (Akerlund, 2011) Wright’s penchant for hearths & fireplaces at core of household. Exterior masonary lines chimney breast & wall onto floor. Wright designed furniture, textiles & ceramics.
fig. 7l (Kenneth and Jean in the Living fig. 7m (Jean in the Kitchen, n.d.) Phyllis Room, n.d.) Lower banked seating, cooking in the kitchen. Typical wall cabinet perfect transition height from a wheel- & worktop heights. chair. Beige short-pile carpet easier to traverse in wheelchair. Circa 1970’s.
Rejecting Classicism and the International Style as ‘shallow second-hand Modernism’, he preferred using “organic nature as a guide”, connecting back to beauty, proportion and simplicity, the “centre lines of civilisation” (Hoffman, 1995: 238). His best work revealed their character through a mastery of space and light “creat[ing] delight in the unfamiliar, but gradually revealed a rigorous logic.” (Hoffman, 1986: 41) (figure. 7g & 7h). Wright’s furniture was throughout the house “to give each building individual character and a wholly consistent language of form”, understanding that his most successful architecture holistically addressed the aesthetic and user, inside and out (Patterson, 1994). “[He] hoped to design every piece of furniture as a child of the building, an epitome of its character.” (Hoffman, 1995: 43). The Laurents loyally dressed their home with Wright’s furniture, ceramics, textiles and custom privacy screens, all but two chairs and a piano (figure. 7i & 7j). Initially a 2-bedroom house with a generous bathroom and wide doors, the house was later extended in 1960 by Wright with an extra bed and bathroom when the couple adopted; showing their respect for his design aesthetic. Laurent House - Frank Lloyd Wright 43
In-built bespoke furniture maintained Wright’s strategic efficient plan and aesthetic vision, simplified cleaning whilst being perfectly positioned to access from a wheelchair i.e. specially hinged cabinets, the office desk and banked seating at the right transfer height (figure. 7k & 7l) (Frederick, 1923). All the seating throughout was lowered to bring everyone to Kenneth’s eye height, making them his equal. “When you sat in the house, you were either at or below Ken’s eye level, which made Ken feel like the tallest person in the room ... The perspective that the house is meant to be seen from is at Ken’s eye level … The genius of Wright’s design is that, unless you look very closely, you don’t notice that everything is a little bit lower than normal. The door knob, the cabinet handle.” (Massie, 2014). The level of inclusive integration in the house, with seamless level access and subtle imperceptible aids benefitted all. Possibly the only sacrifice the able-bodied family made in the house were the low reclined seats which can become uncomfortable overtime. Notably the kitchen is largely inaccessible to a wheelchair user, with no reduced height worktops, sink or hob, other than the dining table, with many storage cupboards out of reach. This is likely due to the Laurent family dynamic, which reflects the attitudes of the time; the wife is responsible for the domestic roles of cooking and cleaning (figure. 7m). Although many white good appliances were standalone items with fixed dimensions, the level of custom furniture throughout the rest of the house would suggest it was agreed that food preparation was not Kenneth’s domain. The surrounding grass garden is largely untouched by landscaping or paths, rather than utilising the acreage, it has been left to allow the building to speak for itself within a natural glade setting. Although impressive, this does mean that Kenneth is unable to interact with his land beyond the house and driveway as grass is notoriously awkward to traverse in a wheelchair. The accessible provisions may seem obvious today, but for the time it was radical, not only that it was inclusive, but that Wright had managed to sympathetically design a home that adhered to 75% of the American Disabilities Act 40 years before it existed (GovTrack.us, 1990).
fig. 7n (Family Portrait in the House, n.d.) Kenneth, Phyllis, Marc & Jean. Circa. 1960’s
fig. 7o (Morgan, 2009) Kenneth Laurent in his 80’s looking out over the 50ft panoramic glazing with landscaped vista. Small elliptical pond with ridge to prevent wheelchair rolling forward.
fig. 7p (Trystcraft, 2018) Little transfer space from chair to toilet or show- fig. 7q (Pannell, 2018) Low step 5” shower, few grab rails, Laurent was er seat. Leg space undersink. against them & preferred to use a transfer board onto shower seat.
Laurent House - Frank Lloyd Wright 44
The home is not large enough to accommodate modern power wheelchairs or scooters and is lacking some of the technological advances but is still more accessible than the majority of homes today. “See accessible design as not a matter of code compliance but really a matter of making a home that is truly easy to live in. It’s not just a matter of how a home looks, it’s a matter of how it functions. Wright was just so close to getting it.” (Pierce, 2012). “The exterior appearance of the house always predominated in [Wright’s] work, and practical as many of his ideas about internal planning were, they inevitably took second place to architectural and aesthetic considerations.” (Rybczynski, 1997: 166). In the case of the Laurent house this in an unfair statement, where total control and design of the environment shows Wright at his best; holistically considering the clients’ lives, the site context, the natural surroundings, the social responsibilities of an architect, the functional and aesthetic needs both inside and out. “Wright’s work is sensitive to his client and to the healing benefit of living in a work of art” (Massie, 2014). He acknowledged the mechanical, emotional and spiritual needs that “a home should celebrate the freedom and autonomy of the individuals who live in it” (Ellard, 2015: 64). “I don’t know if I live for the house, or the house lives for me.” (LaurentHome.com, 2017). Although Kenneth used a wheelchair from the age of 26, he didn’t need his wife’s assistance until later years, avoiding the need for costly social care; managing to remain there for 60 years (1952 – 2012) until they passed aged 92 and 94. “This house lets me forget my disability and instead focus on my capabilities … That is the gift Mr. Wright gave me.” (LaurentHome.com, 2017). For Kenneth Laurent, his modest home gave him unrestricted access to beautiful and practical everyday living, raised his family and felt secure, decades before the principles of Universal Design (figure. 10d & 7n). “It was perhaps one of the earliest attempts at inclusive design.” (Harrington, 2017). The experience with Kenneth did not drastically change Wright’s mindset towards more inclusive provisions; retaining his preoccupation with steep relentless ramps and grand stairways in later designs. The specific requirements that Kenneth needed at home, were also needed in the Built Environment, yet this crossover into Wright’s public buildings fell short compared to the subtly radical designs of the Laurent house; perpetuating the issue of access in the wider context. “Accessibility was not high on his list … I don’t think Wright ever quite made the leap that access was a natural progression from his universal design principles. We can only imagine what he would have done if he had 20 more years to explore these ideas … there comes an ‘aha’ moment when they suddenly see accessible design as not a matter of code compliance, but really a matter of making a home that is truly easy to live in ... Wright was just so close to getting it.” (Pierce, 2012).
fig. 7r (Pannell, 2018) Twin beds common for disabled partnerships due to mattress qualities, ailments, manual repositioning and night-time disturbances with adequate space for a wheelchair.
fig. 7s (Akerlund, 2011) Horizontal wooden banding decoration with protruding multi-height accessible shelves & in-built storage, reinforce squat width. Spacing of bands correlates to a human ergonomic scale of knee, hip, shoulder and head. Strategic downlighters & level flooring.
Laurent House - Frank Lloyd Wright 45
MAISON Á BORDEAUX REM KOOLHAAS (OMA) Multi-million Euro budget – data unavailable 500m2 5 bed 3 bathroom (Main House) - 2 bed 2 bathroom (Guest & Staff Accommodation) Commissioned 1994 Completed 1998 Multiple acreage plot 2 Chemin des Plateaux, 33270 Floirac, Gironde Bordeaux, France
Koolhaas’ critically acclaimed Maison à Bordeaux House (1995-1998), a private scheme nestled amongst a wooden glade with a long private driveway, built into the hillside with a wide panorama of the city. Initially commissioned in 1994 and completed by 1998, the house is radical in its architectural form, engineering strategy and spatial programming. The main feature, a barrier-less hydraulic 3x3.5m floor plate acting as the core access lift punching vertically through the 3-tiered family home, designed solely for the disabled wheelchair using father (figure 8a). “He has experienced this instability and is now part of his own self. In the same way that the umbilical cord belongs both to the mother and the baby and gives it nutrition; the elevator platform connects the husband to the house and offers him a liberation.” (Arnardóttir and Merina, 2005) Like a walled castle high, the mass of concrete, steel and retaining walls sit high up, an exclusive fortress, forming a private courtyard with a dramatic sweeping arrival (figure. 8b & 8c). The solid top ‘nocturnal’ floor, a floating bunker, inexplicably perches on 3 legs, whilst sandwiching the expansive glass ‘daytime’ middle floor against the semi-excavated ground floor (Balmond, 2002). The vicarious masses are counteracted by a tensioned cable tying the structure together; the cable much like the father is integral to the survival of the whole house (figure 8d). The family, a wealthy couple with three children lived in a beautiful old chateau in Bordeaux and for many years dreamt of commissioning an architect to build them a new home. After a sudden and near fatal car accident in 1991, Jean-François Lemoine, former CEO, was left with catastrophic injuries, paralysed from the waist down. The once ideal family home and beloved local area became inaccessible to him, described as a “prison” amongst a “medieval city” (Jacques, 1998). The family spent 3 years learning how to live in an inaccessible world until they appointed Koolhaas to design them a new home. Contrary to what a new wheelchair user may request, the Lemoine’s design brief did not ask for an easy life, but for a bespoke home entirely focused on his needs and aspirations. “I do not want a simple house. I want a complex house, because the house will define my world.” (Jacques, 1998). Maison à Bordeaux - Rem Koolhaas
main entrance media room
balcony bed 4
toilet utility area storage wine cellar
bath living room
shower bed 2
Circulation Routes - Able-bodied Ground Floor
toilet wine cellar
shower bed 2
Circulation Routes - Wheelchair Domain Ground Floor
fig. 8z (Francis-Smith, 2018) Maison a Bordeaux - Floor Plans
fig. 8zi (Francis-Smith, 2018) Maison a Bordeaux - Vertical Routes - Wheelchair/Abled-bodied
fig. 8d (Francis-Smith, 2018) Steel portico, reinforced concrete frame with steel beam and brace, and large, reinforced concrete box. Structurally, the cantilevered level is supported on only one of its sides by the steel portico situated below, by a beam above the exterior concrete wall, and by the cylinder clad in stainless steel that encloses the staircase on the floor below. This results in an unusual pillar with respect to the cantilevered beam, as it is balanced by means of a brace anchored to the ground of the patio.
Maison à Bordeaux - Rem Koolhaas 47
fig. 8h (Francis-Smith, 2018) Display at the Without Walls Exhibition at the V&A Museum. Exploded 2 point perspective drawing and sectional strategy by Koolhaas. Letter of correspondance between Koolhaas and Lemoines prior to construction, requesting information on their lifestyle preferences and book collection.
Private Framed & Heavy
Public Open & Impossible
Semi-Private Intimate Cave
fig. 8g (Francis-Smith, 2018) Porthole Alignment Elevation - Portholes strategically positioned for views at varying heights.
As part of the early communications between architect and client, Rem asked specific questions about their lifestyle, routine and preferences (figure. 8h). The responses are manifested physically in the house, especially the shelving flanking the lift, creating a vertical library at the centre of the house. The process of interacting with the future occupants helped to create a heavily personalised design suited specifically to them. Without this impetus the design may have been less developed or required the family to fit their lives into the space, and not have the space fit their lives. Koolhaas uses disability as the driving force behind the design concept; fitting the home to the individual. “The new house could liberate the husband.” Rather than concerned with door widths, he removed the need for any, installing fabric curtains to form private areas. “That movement alters the architecture of the house … It was not a case of ‘now we’re going to do our best for an invalid’. The starting point is rather a denial of invalidity” (Graafland, 1996) (figure. 8i & 8j). Avoiding an obvious bungalow, the stacked planes create a 500m2 expanse of drama and texture; enhancing experience and providing the dynamic complexity requested. “While some architects attempted to avoid the problem through a strict, horizontal arrangement of rooms, Koolhaas chose to highlight and even intensify the problem” (Maak, 2013). The lift at the core of the house is functional and metaphorical, a dichotomy of dis/ability, in/accessibility, presence/void. “The movement of the elevator changed, each time, the architecture of the house. A machine was its heart.” (Jacques, 1998). For the sole use of the father, the platform became his private office domain, accessing his personal wine cellar and library; dominating k, the living room, an alcove in the parental bed chambers and forming part of the kitchen (figure. 8k, 8l & 8m). Maison à Bordeaux - Rem Koolhaas 48
This grand gesture, “a continually transitional process between occupation and space, by moving freely between realms ‘changing plan and performance’” (Maak, 2013: 70). Gracefully creating three different worlds joined by a common axis, an accessible world available to him for the first time since the accident. “Koolhaas turned disaster into triumph” (Maak, 2013: 70). For the family, always aware of Lemoine’s presence, the lift creates anxiety inducing obstacles. Constant vigilance and risk for pets, unsupervised children and visually impaired visitors around the void; the house enforces specific lifestyle choices which the family accepted. The exclusive routes and separation of circulation between lift and stairs, typically thought of as bad practice, has been intentional. “Whilst the disabled man glides friction-free up through the space – and makes that space his by his very arrival – the abled must watch their step and be constantly aware of barriers to easy progress.” (Boys, 2014: 70) Acknowledging that scripting a person’s reaction to a space is potentially pointless, Koolhaas focuses on the idea of suggestion, ‘programmatic instability’ and the importance of the processional journey to the unexpected. Rejecting regimentally imposing room functions when life is infinitely unpredictable, instead explores ‘programmatic instability’ where the inhabitation of architecture becomes an event. A cinematic character driven narrative that unfolds, designing unexpected moments as a catalyst for richer spatial experience, to “counteract architectural rigidity” (Boys, 2014: 67). “Individuals make their own purposes in the buildings they occupy in ways that cannot be delineated into neat patterns in plan or section.” (Boys, 2014: 66).
fig. 8b (Werlemann, 1998) Exterior view of the approach, the western elevation with repeated circular window/door (no level access). Heavy weight of the stone perimeter wall and floating top floor, surrounded by naturally landscaped lawn.
fig. 8d (Werlemann, 1998) Nightime view of inner courtyard from the roof of the guest room, with views of the city in the distance. Three layers tied together with cable burrowing into the ground. Sweeping circular driveway approaching entrance.
fig. 10k (Bordas Eddy, 2017) Parcours for Disabilities Simulations
fig. 10k (Bordas Eddy, 2017) Parcours for Disabilities Simulations
Maison à Bordeaux - Rem Koolhaas 49
OMA’s seminal manifesto explores circulation space unfolding in an episodic montage, a Modernist subversion “centered on an architecture of desire rather than on a universal functional user” (Boys, 2014: 63). Inspired yet critical of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye (1929) and Mies van der Rohe’s Farnworth House (1951), explicitly referencing their language of form and structure with the lift as the technological heart “a house is a machine for living in” whilst advantageously designing for a client who’s needs dispel the Modulor Man theory (figure. 5b) (Le Corbusier, 1927). Automated portholes strategically penetrate at different heights, seemingly random yet designed to provide framed art views for all occupants, wheelchair or standing, to be in control of their surroundings (figure. 8e, 8f & 8g). Floor length curtains are situated throughout the house, creating soft, intimate temporary zones, tented sails protecting from the gaze of the unrelenting expanse of glass. “Under its rock-like, massive concrete ceiling, the house performs an improbably light ‘dance of the curtain walls’ that seems to defy statics” (Maak, 2013). The curtains gliding easily to form temporary moving partitions, reducing physical impediments.
fig. 8i (Muller, 2009) Pink curtains along a continous ceiling track. Privacy screen for open plan bath area. Light well void opens out below, children’s wing across the way. Main route for wheelchair to bedroom through bathroom.
fig. 8j (Ellis, 1998) Curtains tied back to reveal galley bathroom with twin sinks, portholes and water damage on the floor around the shower.
fig. 8n (van Eeden, 2014) Automated barrier inbedded into floor raising around the lift platform. Small metal rods mark the lift corners, potential hazard.
fig. 8m (Kitchen at Maison a Bordeaux, c. 1998) Kitchen worktops with lift semi raised, leading to the laundry and utility storage.
fig. 8o (Muller, 2009) Kitchen with lowered oven and microwave and cut outs under the sink and hob so a wheelchair users legs can fit underneath. Main entrance into the house from the road/car.
Maison à Bordeaux - Rem Koolhaas 50
fig. 8p (KoolHaas HouseLife, 2013) Precast concrete staircase with exposed treads and no handrails. Piles of books and objects placed nearby to prevent accidents or items falling down into the stairwell below.
fig. 8q (KoolHaas HouseLife, 2013) Large void opens up in the terrace floor to reveal a staircase leading to the ground floor. No handrails or guards to protect the occupants. Ladders for maintenance of the building. Silver circular stairwell entrance darkly lit.
fig. 8k (Werlemann, 1998) Lift platform transitioning from the middle to upper floor, revealing large whole in the ground. Books easily accessed, with portable office desk.
fig. 8l (Muller, 2009) Three storey bookcase with middle floor barriers raised. Central hydraulic column supporting above platform.
Elsewhere, roll under sinks, hob and reduced oven heights are subtly accessible features. Beyond the lift, technical integration such as automated sliding doors, windows, unfolding skylights, rising barriers, lighting and sound systems have been intrinsic to the architectural strategy, aiding all users and streamlining the design towards a machine house (figure. 8n & 8o). Technology is united with architecture to create a universe both simple and complex. Koolhaas deliberately challenges the notion of accessibility and safety, the able-bodied family must navigate awkward voids, tight stairwells with no handrails and pits in the floor; turning the inaccessible wheelchair house narrative on its head (figure. 8p, 8q & 8r). “His personal power is then reinforced by the deliberate relative powerlessness of the other occupants in the house, making their staircase-bound journeys more tortuous.” (Boys, 2014: 75). Koolhaas often programmatically splits adults from children, the top floor wings combine two parallel lives separated by a chasm; variety of access of the spiral staircase vs. the lift promotes independence between the parents and children (figure. 8s). The link leads unusually into a bathroom and is difficult for Lemoine to traverse their quarters. The house imposes a hierarchy and odd dynamic on the family’s relationship, by tying Lemoine to the lift, he becomes a slightly removed dominant figure. “The father controls the architecture and the position of the elevator becomes a signifier of his presence and absence.” (Dovey, 2010: 117). Maison à Bordeaux succeeds in upsetting expectation, pushing the boundaries of design with moments of revelation and fun, inviting new kinds of interaction. The novelty is certainly entertaining, though the daily practicalities may become tiresome. “Extremely theatrical if not filmic architecture … Breaks are built in, resulting in moments of suspense and irritation, the ground gets swept from under your feet, you lose your footing … you rarely leave a building by Koolhaas without bruises.” (Heidingfelder and Tesch, 2008). The infrastructure really does make Lemoine’s life complicated, with no accessible toilet anywhere but the top floor via. the slow lift, taking an awkward route through the bathroom across the wetroom area to get to bed. There’s a noticeable absence of hoists, rails or visible aids around the property, high-end aesthetics do not marry with mobility aids; possibly the glamorous photography does not truly represent the daily reality of living with a disability in the house.
Maison à Bordeaux - Rem Koolhaas 51
The daughter Louise Lemoine, made similar commentary in her film Koolhaas Houselife, where the experience of cleaning and maintenance contrasts with the public’s notion of the Maison à Bordeaux (Beka and Lemoine, 2008). The amusing but honest opinion of the family’s live-in housekeeper, Guadalupe Acedo, faced with some limited mobility of old age, clearly struggles to navigate the house; especially the unprotected staircases, ill-defined level changes and polished concrete floors (figure. 8t & 8u). Like the ergonomic studies of Fredericks (1923), studies fail to observe staff, the designer does not always consider the users who will use the house the most. Her domestic interaction of repetitive tasks embodies the architecture but also shows its faults, breaking down the ‘monument’ rhetoric to expose the real-life ‘work’ and love of a home.
fig. 8u (KoolHaas HouseLife, 2013) Guadalupe Acedo using the lift to transport cleaning supplies between levels.
fig. 8s (KoolHaas HouseLife, 2013) Light well splitting the parent’s and children’s wings. The cleaner seen traversing the narrow adjoining corridor.
fig. 8t (KoolHaas HouseLife, 2013) Housekeeper trying to clean the cantilevered metal stairs, with no handrails or saftey features.
Unfortunately, Lemoine only experienced the house for 3 years until he died in 2001; the dynamic of the house changed instantly. The platform, no longer needed by the family, became a constant physical reminder of their loss, a monument to his absence. Because Koolhaas tailored the house so specifically to the individual, “it’s viability as actual space dependant on his intentions and movements.” were lost and the intended symbolism fades (Boys, 2014: 74). It would have been interesting to see how Lemoine’s relationship with the house would have changed had he lived longer, growing further into old age much like the Laurents. “After the death of the owner of the house, the empty vessel that he leaves becomes the receptacle for what the rigor of his regime – fatherhood, suffering, combativeness, love – had eliminated from the family’s daily life: femininity, informality, hospitality, fun.” (Koolhaas, 2005). He suggested the family redecorate, removing the desk and bookcase to turn the platform into an informal moving TV room, mitigating the negative connotations (figure. 8v). “The platform is now about chaos and noise rather than order” (Zalewski, 2005). After several years the family decided the house no longer worked for them, tailored too much for Lemoine’s specifications, it had failed to grow and adapt with them. All buildings retain something of their previous owners, but Maison à Bordeaux does this more intensely than most; its legacy as an accessible home has been lost thanks in part to its now infamous status. Listed as a historical monument in 2002, the new owners have updated the textiles turning the house into a temporary venue for art exhibitions and offering tours to the public (Barba, 2016) (figure. 8w & 8x). Inaccessible buildings create hardship for occupants, but it is rare that a space is in favour of the disabled over the able-bodied. Designing a theatrical procession for the wheelchair rendered the rest of the household ‘disabled’ by destabilising the architecture; a statement on inclusive design that highlights the struggles typically experienced by the disabled and rejecting the Universal Design principles (figure. 10d). Maison à Bordeaux - Rem Koolhaas
fig. 8x (Blaisse, 2012) Red living room rug and curtains installed.
fig. 10k (Bordas Eddy, 2017) Parcours for Disabilities Simulations
fig. 8a (Eberle, 1998) Rem Koolhaas with client Jean Francois Lemoine on the lift platform at the middle floor. Close to the desk and bookcase, holding the wired control unit.
fig. 8w (Blaisse, 2012) Inside Outside designer Petra Blaisse invited by the new owners to create a strategy for new textiles across the building. ‘Reclothing’ the house.
Koolhaas fulfilling his brief delivered a complex and contradictory house, where depth and variety mimicked Lemoine’s aspirations in life; for him, the house was a great success, entertaining his newly restored freedom in a beautiful setting. But does having a disability mean his needs are more important than the rest of the household, are all occupants not equally deserving of an accessible space. It would have been interesting to see Koolhaas’ concept had the wife or a child been disabled. OMA’s later schemes have a focus on circulation with processional journeys and playful sloping surfaces, incorporating the access regulations of corresponding countries, yet none have had a defining primary focus on disability since Maison á Bordeaux. His request for complexity is contrary to the desires of many disabled people, whom aspire to a simple easy home with personal autonomy, free of the burden of physical, mental and financial barriers; it is a privilege to afford the luxury of ‘complications’ (Appendix A, C & D). The ground-breaking Maison á Bordeaux, successful on many levels, showcases accessible design like none before. Unlikely to be replicated, architects can draw inspiration and learn lessons for future affordable schemes. The level of user-led collaboration has been effective in creating a client-centered building but has become so bespoke, a self-conscious tension was left once the family unit disbanded.
fig. 8y (KoolHaas HouseLife, 2013) Manually operated large circular window opened by Guadalupe.
fig. 8v (Muller, 2009) Giant silver beanbag now a social seating area, prominent focus and use for lift platform.
Maison à Bordeaux - Rem Koolhaas 53
RAMP HOUSE CHAMBERS MCMILLAN £247,000 budget (£1740m2) 145m2 3 bed 1 bathroom Commissioned 2010 Completed 2012 240m2 plot 9e Bellfield Lane, Portobello, Edinburgh EH15 2B The Ramp House, built by architect couple Ian and Thea McMillan, of the now established practice Chambers McMillan, stands as a vibrantly tailored home for them and their two daughters, Greta and Beatrice. Based in Portobello, an eastern seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the family home has become a seminal building amongst the ‘access community’ winning numerous awards in recognition of its contemporary design that incorporates the now 14-year-old Greta and her wheelchair. The 140m2 house, larger than the UK average, utilises the ramp’s abnormally large circulation space by cleverly incorporating fragments of functional rooms along the journey (figure. 9a, 9b & 9c). Tucked away down a small narrow lane the front façade uses sympathetic local stone and shingle cladding, with the more dramatic copper clad and glazed rear exterior. Funding the scheme through the sale of their former £245,000 house, they struggled to find financial support. In 2011 the local council stopped funding extensions for accessible homes, only providing help for their wetroom, which left them applying for charitable donations. Finding help from a charity for the sliding rear doors and from the Architects Benevolent Fund towards the steel frame specifically needed to support the ramp. The UN have condemned countries for their shortcomings and over reliance on outdated charitable models to ‘top-up’ aid, rather than address socially constructed discrimination (United Nations, 2017). “Charities don’t tend to support building works as they think it should be statutory, but the councils don’t have the budget for it - or don’t prioritise it in their budget.” (McMillan, 2019) (Correspondence) Thankfully with expertise as architects, they were able to deliver a self-build property at third of the cost of buying a similarly sized existing house in the area and then fully adapting, estimated at least £325,000. “Quite how families are expected to carry on using their family homes, when they need to carry their ever-heavier children upstairs daily, I’m not sure … For us this is not only the best possibility, but the only possibility … Building from scratch gives us the chance to provide a house which will carry on supporting us as a family, and helping Greta’s growing independence into the future.” (McMillan, 2012). Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 54
fig. 9b (Chambers McMillan, 2010) A semi-exploded axo of the floor plans, showing the entrance with the yellow circulation ramp winding through through the house.
fig. 9a (Chambers McMillan, 2010) Ramp axo showing trajectory of journey, with key function living spaces unfolding off.
fig. 9c (Chambers McMillan, 2010) Nightime view of inner courtyard from the roof of the guest room, with views of the city in the distance. Three layers tied together with cable burrowing into the ground. Sweeping circular driveway approaching entrance.
Greta, diagnosed with cerebral palsy after complications at birth, is a full-time wheelchair user reliant on family carers and communicated through small facial expressions and noises, until the recent addition of EyeGaze technology gave her a voice. Her parents were luckily the architects who could deliver a bespoke home suited exactly to their family’s requirements to benefit her life, and those caring for her. As with all indirect experiences, they had to make some assumptions and predictions as able-bodied designers what a disabled child, moving through teenage years into adulthood would prefer. “We had such a strong brief with a driving reason to build, that every design decision was a delightful realisation of a place that our daughter would be able to use without having to ask for exceptions to be made.” (McMillan, 2013). The sisters grew up in a small 3 bed house just down the road; moving in just 1 month before Greta was born, though they still always knew it wouldn’t be a long-term option for a growing family of 4 regardless of access. Once the reality of navigating the house with a disabled child became clear, the McMillans had to start planning a better strategy for their family. Trying their best to maximise the space by opening up the downstairs and creating wider doors out into the yard but there was no potential to extend up or out of their old terrace plot (figure. 9d, 9e, 9f, 9g & 9h). “In the last year, Greta and I couldn’t get around at all, because I couldn’t carry her anymore, so we couldn’t go up or downstairs. So Ian would bring her down in the morning and then we’d be down for the rest of the day, and even getting out of the house was quite an effort. We’d have to wait until Dad had come back home from work to carry Greta up to bed and that was it. It was a nice house downstairs, but that was quite tricky.” (Appendix E). Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 55
kitchen/dining tight gallery passageway wall removed for open plan access
greta’s bedroom direct route to toilet
sliding doors utilities narrow steep staircase
porch small for wheelchair/ pram
bea’s bedroom (no window)
critical poor access points accessible features
fig. 9d (Francis-Smith, 2018) Previous house floor plans showing child and parental distribution, with key access features.
fig. 9e (Ordinance Survey, 2019). 19 Mentone Avenue 1:200. Digimap plan of the previous house, a terrace plot with narrow tapering garden.
fig. 9f (Google Maps, 2018) 19 Mentone Avenue. High up automated porthole springing open, revealing natural views and air circulation, ideal for wheelchair users who may not be able to reach.
fig. 9g (McMillan, 2008) Previous house exterior view from yard, rooflights installed to maximise small space.
fig. 9h (McMillan, n.d) Young Bea playing in the previous house downstairs. Open plan kitchen and living area, with new double leafed doors leading to garden, and tight staircase the only means of access upstairs.
Restricted by their current home and frustrated by the lack of accessible options, the family were forced to make the decision either to stay in Portobello and compromise on space, or move to the outskirts where land was less of a premium but leave their support network. “It means you’re at the edge of stuff and it’s a real shame because you probably need community around you [as a disabled person] more than anyone else … It’s a great place and it’s a really nice community, that was really important to us as well that Greta grew up in a community that knew her and didn’t see her as any different” (Appendix E). Determined to stay, Thea found a small urban brownfield site along a mews owned by their now neighbouring garage, a battle with the planners then ensued to convince them how essential an accessible house was. “Half the community council couldn’t believe people were objecting, a lot of people knew Greta by then around Portobello and clearly we had very little options. We knew how much of a difference it would make, if we couldn’t build, we would have been way out and not been in Portobello anymore. Because most of the houses are old, you couldn’t adapt them easily ... It wasn’t specifically us, it was just that they didn’t want to be seen to be making an exception but actually maybe this is an exceptional case.” (Appendix E). With so few local options, the disabled are routinely ‘cleansed’. The lack of accessible provision, with councils failing to meet targets, means the disabled become less visible, pushed to the margins of society; the McMillan’s lives were in the hands of the planners “We thought if we don’t get this what do we do, this is our life.” (Appendix E). Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 56
Taking disability as the core, their philosophy for keeping Greta a part of everything meant finding ways round obstacles. “Open plan came from Greta having seizures so that you can hear where she is, so if we were in a house with lots of standard rooms with the door shut, we were aware of that.” (Appendix E). Creating visual and auditory connections via. the master bedroom balcony and cut away voids allows the family to communicate easily from almost any point in the house (figure. 9i & 9j). A close collaboration with the children was key when designing the family house, by engaging the girls at various stages, the scheme benefited from a more rigorous exploration of space (figure. 9k & 9l).
fig. 9i (Barbour, 2013) View part way up the ramp, looking out over the living room, work station, through into the kitchen, garden and master bedroom balcony, eventually to Greta’s bedroom. Bea using the ramp as a fun runway.
“Once we’d got the ramp to work we thought ‘what do we want to do with these spaces off the ramp?’, at which point we then had a family meeting and discussed it. It was definitely a stage more than ‘this is our design what do you think’.” (Appendix E). Keen to avoid “big long scary corridors” the house consciously folds, with flashes of opportunity, large windows and changes in direction so nowhere feels enclosed for too long (figure. 9m & 9n) (Appendix E). “They didn’t like not knowing where we were, so that we were never too far away. They were keen to cut bits away, so there was a visual connection. The corner into the kitchen is cut away to let sunlight onto the kitchen table.” (Appendix E).
fig. 9j (Barbour, 2013) Multiple points along the ramp to pause and communicate. Bea part way up, with a friend in the ‘morning sitting room’. The ramp continues round to the right through the kitchen to the front door. Yellow and pink used to accent alcoves and highlight key objects. No barriers at the end of the main ramp run creating a potential hazard due to steep drop and no contrasting edges. They had intended to install a breakfast bar but have yet to do so.
The site was the key driver behind the ramp, with the footprint too small to accommodate a 3-bedroom wheelchair bungalow, necessity pushed for innovative vertical access. “All the issues are generated from the site and you’re fitting quite an elaborate thing in which is quite quirky making a lot of moves that you probably wouldn’t normally do. It’s very site responsive, it would be great to have a bit more turning at the corners, just to make it slightly easier but you have to work with hat you’ve got.” (Appendix E). The 28m long, 1:8 processional ramp intertwines around the family’s lives; dominating the floorplan at 31% circulation (figure. 9o) dictating the whole site. More than a functional transition route, spaces along it provide relief; these pausing moments encourage contemplation and interaction (figure. 9p), mini rooms in the largely open plan layout. Because the ramp is a large spatial investment, rather than a bolt-on, it is enjoyed in ways not possible on a typical domestic staircase.
fig. 9k (Chambers McMillan, 2010) Using 2D drawings and 3D models made from different materials i.e. cardboard, wood, marzipan and wool, they engaged the children in the design proccess. Helping them understand the space and make comment on their new home.
fig. 9l (Chambers McMillan, 2010) Exploded cardboard model with notes added by the family and small scaled people to inhabit the space.
Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 57
garden/ hot tub
kitchen/dining garage (now office)
car parking/turning for garage
ramp route stair access moments along ramp inaccessible loft space
physio space B
gretaâ€™s room master bedroom beaâ€™s room (loft space)
First Floor Vertical Access - Ramp vs. Stairs Pausing Points/Living Spaces off Ramp Inaccessible Loft Space = Physio Space fig. 9ac (Chambers McMillan, 2010) (Francis-Smith, 2018)
Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 58
fig. 9m (Francis-Smith, 2018) The only corridot in the house which has been opened up by numerous windows and populated with bright colour, Greta’s artwork, floor to ceiling book shelves and a cutout reading nook.
fig. 9n (Barbour, 2013) Shallow fig. 9p (Barbour, 2013) Pink cutout height morning room with large reading ‘book nook’ is a nice pauswindow opens out onto the mews. ing seat to look out through the Cutout slice above, designed by window, close by to the bookcases. the children, provides visual & audio The ramp gradient gradually rises, connections at different points with a void revealing the kitchen along the ramp. Sunlight to enter and morning room below. onto the kitchen table.
fig. 9q I(Barbour, 2013) an pushing Greta up the ramp, with Bea sitting on top of the window cill. More bookshelves and artwork are displayed along the ramp.
fig. 9o (McMillan, 2012) Floorplan m2 percentages compared to a typical UK house. Large amount dedicated to circulation.
“We have designed spaces along the ramp so that the experience of the house changes as it unfolds … this is both linear and sectional, and the opportunities to look back or forward into other spaces.” (Boys, 2017). Using patches of colour to demarcate zones, similar to Koolhaas’ textiles, breaks the expanse of white, creating small cosy corners that allow the user to feel secure, even if the space at large is open plan. Highlighting different sub-space moments to stop and interact along the ramp. (figure.9q) “Variety of spatial type … it’s not a uniformity of space, although this is open plan it’s all segmented and broken up and I think that adds to that homely feel.” (Appendix E). Their book collection features heavily along the ramp, encouraging learning and providing inspiration. Regularly rotating their artwork and temporarily convert their home into a gallery displaying Greta’s EyeGaze creations (figure. 9r), personalisation helping reinforce emotional bonds. Influenced by various European buildings such Koolhaas’ sloping Kunsthal, Educatorium and Villa Dall’Ava’s 1:6 ramp; himself inspired by Le Corbusier’s Villa de Savoye’s 1:6 faux wheelchair-friendly routes. “[It’s] really steep, barely an accessible house … I really liked the Koolhaas Bordeaux House … it’s such a big grand Dutch/French gesture” (Appendix E) (figure. 9s & 9t). The house makes reference to the Modernist preoccupation with experiential circulation, such as Adolf Loos’ Villa Müller, the Rose Seidler House by Harry Seidler and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum. The luxury of private residencies, unrestricted by legislation, allows certain liberties to be taken regarding access dimensions; opening up opportunity for playing with preconceptions of form. Had this been for a social housing tenant, most of the key design moves would not have been permissible. Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 59
The 1:8 ramp, although workable for an able-bodied person pushing a child’s wheelchair, 1:10 is the ideal assisted gradient and 1:12 for full manual independence. Had the house adhered to the building regulations, then the 28m ramp would become 42m, completely unfeasible for the site (figure. 9u). “The ramps all totally non-compliant! … I think the gradient [in the Building Regs] comes from ambulant disabled walking sticks. They’re the ones that struggle the most and would rather take the stairs.” (Appendix E). A ramp is rare in domestic housing, although a low tech, low cost option, they require an expansive area when land is at a premium. To suggest they’re the most ‘disabled friendly’ and cost-effective means of vertical ascension would be a mistake; many with mobility impairments avoid ramps due to instability, surface texture and the relentless angle (Appendix E). The Ramp House’s unconventional gradient, lacking handrails on a slippy wooden floor could cause difficulty for some, thankfully a staircase was fitted as an alternative means of access. The variety means that everyone in the house has the choice to take an independent route, preferable to their own tastes and requirements, which is vital to the success of a space. The staircase is hidden like a secondary service route, lacking any views or pausing points compared to the grand statement ramp. The McMillans debated the need for stairs until the warrant officer stipulated it as an alternative means of egress.
fig. 9r (McMillan, 2018) Bright pink and red fig. 9s (McMillan, n.d) Ian pushing Greta painted walls have been decorated with de- along the steep Villa Savoye ramps by Le cals and prints of Greta’s EyeGaze artwork. Corbusier. The living room ceiling hoist also visable.
fig. 9t (McMillan, n.d) Bea and Greta playing on the sloping floors and walls of Rem Koolhaas’ Educatorium.
Assisted / Effort
fig. 9u (Francis-Smith, 2019) Length of Ramp & Gradient to Achieve 3.5m Height Ideal for Independent Manual Wheelchair According to British Guidelines
IAN “I think we would have [put in the stairs] ... I guess it’s a shortcut in the house that ends the ramp, it’s a Koolhaas thing as well having a circuit rather than a dead end to the space. It works conceptually better that way but if you forget your keys or anything in the morning, 28m running up and down, it’s easier.” (Appendix E). THEA “I wouldn’t have! I always do the ramp, I think it’s a bit nicer.” (Appendix E). A lift is the alternative for accessible vertical movement, benefitting from speed, reduced effort and a small footprint, however, it’s a large initial expenditure, with breakdowns leaving users stranded and charged maintenance costs (figure. 9v). The family were strongly against this option, concerned with isolation and ‘otherness’. Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 60
“It was inclusion that’s where it came from. We looked at them but we didn’t really like the concept of Greta using the lift and us taking the stairs … It’s not equal because we wouldn’t use the lift unless we were going with her … Using a ramp to access all levels provides an equality of space to us all … The only ones that work quite well, like the Rem Koolhaas House or sometimes in Northern European museums you’ll get the hydraulic platforms. They’re quite nice, they’re quite open, but it’s still a separate bit that you go into and that just annoys us.” (Appendix E) Thea’s research into how children experience space raised concerns about Greta’s perception of embodiment if she was always delivered at a floor. “Being architects, we think about how we move through space, how things connect, but when you’re in a lift you’re away from that.” (Appendix E).
fig. 9v (Hunt, 2014) John Mahoney trapped inside home due to broken Wirral Council lift.
fig. 9w (McMillan, n.d) Ian guiding Greta high up to the living room ceiling on tracked guided electric hoist, getting to experience the space from a totally new angle.
fig. 9x (Francis-Smith, 2018) Bea’s bed- fig. 9y (McMillan, n.d) Thea and Greta in the newly room has stairs cleverly doubling as converted office on their computers. Hottub and storage leading to a ‘pirate lookout’, garden shelter in the background. her own private little space to hide away in, whilst utilitising the ceiling height.
Asides from the ramp as the main aid, the house incorporates multiple access features such as wide sliding doors, hoists in the living room and bedroom, heated floors, a projector, adapted kitchen equipment and an electric profile bed (figure. 9w). They have been a welcome addition easing the lives of Greta and her parents, improving their mental health and creating a more sociable relaxed atmosphere. “Everything takes a lot longer when you’re doing all the moving and handling, you’re doing a lot of manual work. When you’ve got more barriers, it’s going to take you longer to do, so in the house you’ve got a bit more time to do other stuff. You can do more one-to-one time, more normal things that you’ve got access to in the house.” (Appendix E). Scotland’s Doors Open Day allows the public a chance to visit buildings usually off-limits, giving other disabled people an opportunity to experience the Ramp House. Receiving great praise, this confirms the style of the house isn’t so tailored to the family that it hinders access for people with other spectrums of disability. “All sorts of wheelchair users [have visited], long recline ones with the joystick, wee racy ones, just everyone really, the best ones are the little kids with the little whizzy Snapdragon chairs and they just love it because they don’t get to go upstairs normally. And then all of a sudden they come dashing down the ramp! … We rent it out on Air BNB and most people really love it. The occasional person says that bathrooms not very good for my 95yr old mum and I’m thinking ‘no it wouldn’t be!’” (Appendix E). The Ramp House was designed around the whole family’s needs, although with a strong focus on Greta’s access, Bea and their parents still have a fulfilling experience and equal provision of space (figure. 9x). Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 61
By opening up lofts and rooflights, they’ve optimised the height, providing Bea with her own private nook and another raised attic space as an adult den; the only parts of the house Greta can’t access. The McMillans understood the importance of catering for every member of the family in a fair and architecturally interesting way. “Most people talk about siblings who are disadvantaged and everything, but I’ve asked Bee and she’s said ‘Yeh well you know I’ve got a hot tub and I’ve got a cool house’ she really loves it.” (Appendix E). Greatly benefitting from their work crossing into the domestic sphere; the office extension eases care duties, bringing them closer as a family and exposes the daughters to a professional environment (figure. 9y). The house has provided them variety, complexity and freedom, by removing the typical design barriers, dissolving the notion of disability. No longer constantly focusing on the difficulties of having a child with additional support needs, but delight in the things Greta and whole family are able to do together. “You go away, and nothing is ever accessible, so it’s really odd going on holiday, nothings working at all and then you come back and then everything’s working. We get so used to the fact we’ve designed the house this way.” (Appendix E). Initially designing with children and moving in when Greta was 8, the dynamic of the house is changing as the girls grow older; teenage years bring a desire for privacy. At present, there are no clear plans as to where Greta will live when she reaches adulthood, with accessible properties so limited, she could remain in the Ramp House with some adaptions and safety features installed. Though no child wants to live with their parents forever, ideally finding a place that provides independence and autonomy. “If we could find another small site in Portobello to give her independence that we could design specifically for her with support workers and that would be the ideal really. On occasion we’ve seen sites that might be good, but we don’t have any money … Because we can design stuff and know how to do it, it wouldn’t need to be as much as this. We could actually probably just for her do it all on one level and still get it to work really well, and then maybe carer upstairs.” (Appendix E). However, this is still her parents’ home where they could easily remain well into retirement, with ageing inevitable, they too could then benefit from the accessible elements. “I think it’s a quirky interesting house that works really well. It just feels like our … lifetime home, or it might be hers actually, she might kick us out! … I know if Greta gets the house Bee will be furious!” (Appendix E).
fig. 9aa (Francis-Smith, 2018) Street frontage of the house, with the garage fig. 9ae (Google Maps, 2018) 9e Bellfield LaneAerial Satellite Axo of now converted into the studio workspace. Tall windows welcome easterly Ramp House, at the end of Bellfield Lane. light and ‘stepping stones’ have shallow pools of water that bring a calming reflection.
Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 62
(loft space) master bedroom
physio space greta’s room
books kitchen/ reading nook dining
garage (now office)
Section B (loft space) books
garage entrance (now office)
car parking/turning for garage
Section A (loft space)
Section C fig. 9ad (Chambers McMillan, 2010) (Francis-Smith, 2018)
fig. 9z (Ordinance Survey, 2019). Portobello, Edinburgh. Close Proximity Of The Highstreet, School And Beach To The Previous And Current Homes
Drawing on their experience of designing from a disabled perspective, the couple formed Chambers McMillan architects, specialising in accessible barrier-free homes for disabled clients. Designing spaces with broader access briefs such as holiday homes, where they’ve had to empathise with a wider spectrum of disabilities. Yet to be asked to do another ramp house, their schemes are predominately bungalows which eradicates the issue of vertical access; but still promotes accessibility as a delight rather than a constraint. “[We] looked around the house and thought we could do this for other people. We’ve done that because of building the house. It wasn’t really in our mindset before, but I’m so glad we did, our life is just hugely better for doing this.” (Appendix E). “So much of her life is frustrated by obstacles in her way; the main ones are physical, environmental, spatial ones, something which as architects we feel ashamed of, but also empowered to do something about. We are in the exceptional position of understanding through our family’s experience what hinders, and knowing, as designers, how to put that right. So when you turn this to the problem of designing a (barrier free) family home it suddenly becomes an enabling process rather than a problem.” (McMillan, 2013). Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 63
In the perfect position to combine their knowledge of the Built Environment and the need for quality accessible housing; they regularly participate in conferences, academic research and open days, aiming to educate and inspire a more inclusive design approach. Although it’s taken a personal experience to turn them on to inclusive design, they have now joined the arsenal of activists and campaigners fighting for better accessible housing and disability rights. “I know people have said they see things differently because of the way they see us living our lives, which is pretty good! We’re happy with that being our legacy, better than most buildings anyway!” (Appendix E). Their architectural skills meant they were savvier when building a home than a typical family; but through learning from their own case study, are now in a position to assist others in building affordable, yet beautifully accessible homes. Benefitting from a more involved user-led process, similar techniques can be implemented by architects when engaging with more complex client needs. Although this would increase fees due to longer RIBA Work Stages 2/3, the final output would profit from a more rigorous design and higher quality life for the occupant. After the McMillans leave, the Ramp House’s legacy will benefit future occupants in need of alternative inclusive access. Although the specification provides a high level of personal tailoring for the McMillans, the usability, a few minor adjustments aside, will accommodate others successfully. “When people come here, they understand that we designed it specifically for us as a family.” (Appendix E). Not everyone will appreciate a ramp, but the house caters for far more on the disability spectrum than a typical UK house.
fig. 9ab (Barbour, 2013) Rear facade with copper cladding panels reaching to 2 1/2 storeys, multiple glazing panels and a shallow pool in the compact garden.
Ramp House - Chambers McMillan 64
“This is my dream!!!”
“Too steep stairs. Heavy doors and windows. Low deep cabinets.”
“Not obviously for disability - positive!”
“Absolutely stunning! Adding this to my bucket list!”
MAISON A BORDEAUX
PUBLIC OPINION - WHEELCHAIR USERS
QUOTES ON CASE STUDIES
“It doesn't seem friendly or homely to me at all”
“Wow who do they hope to sell or rent these houses to? They look very expensive. We need something affordable.”
“Natural and warm”
“It feels static which might make it difficult to evolve with time. Seems old fashioned apart from the curved corridor ”
“More conventional but it lacks oomph, the front outside looks a bit boring and the inside is samey, but that said overall it is my preferred house as I like the curvature of the design with the windows that enable the outside to appear part of the house.”
“I get the feeling that it's designed for a disabled person rather than by someone who lives with disability - e.g. no obvious access to the garden and chairs with I wouldn't be able to transfer into”
“Form over function? A lot of space is taken up by ramps - waste?”
“If this was to be commissioned today then I would like to see it with a second floor with a lift, keeping the curved shape but with a large veranda with a glass boundary to make the most of the views, light and space. I would also look to update the inside of it. I think the current design is great considering the date it was built.”
“I love the external façade view”
“I just need the money”
“The other two while gorgeous and intere s t i n g would be m o r e exhaustive to travel between spaces. ”
“It has more visual and emotional appeal, it's more inviting.”
“I like the Frank Lloyd House best.”
“Looks the easiest access and comfort”
“I like the way it is more modern inside but I am not so keen on the outside. I think the ramp idea is good but perhaps a bit limited for disabled people, only because many disabled people have degenerative conditions which could limit their ability to manage the control required to use the ramp. I like the spacious interior and I'm sure it would be a cool house to live in as a child but as adults get older especially the able bodied people they may struggle with the ramp.” “Ramps may be fun for children but can be difficult for people on crutches or “Like the house for Greta over the others.” with balance issues”
“Beautifully connected to the surroundings, repeatedly flexible on each level, never ending views open the mind and reduce frustration of being restricted”
“Exciting, Innovative, Stylish yet functional”
“I like the innovation of the lift floor but I personally would not like it in my home especially in the middle of the room. I do not like the outer appearance of the house, it may have been better to have been a tinted glass round the outside instead of the industrial look it has at the moment. I would have installed electric blinds of some form for privacy when needed.”
fig. 10 Facebook Survey (2018) (Appendix D)
Public Opinion on Case Studies
CONCLUSION “Disabled people in Western societies have been oppressed by the production of space … due in part to their exclusion from the discourses and practices that shape the physical layout of societies” (Gleeson, 1999: 2).
Critical aims of this report were to assess the current standards of accessible housing for disabled people in the UK, the psychogeographic impact a space can have on a tenant and the ways in which disabled people are viewed both by architect’s and society at large. Looking at how the architect’s role as facilitator for social responsibility, through considerate user-led interactions and integrating developing technologies, can lead to successful fully inclusive designs. The opinions gathered from the survey asking disabled people about living in pre-modified, inaccessible homes helps to reinforce the sheer scale and importance that quality accessible housing can have on people’s lives. The emotional connections to their homes were evident, conflicted within a space that is both sanctuary and prison; their daily struggles clearly reiterated dozens of times. In contrast, the post-occupation survey conducted by Habinteg, a UK Housing Association which focuses on building inclusive communities, shows multiple cases of positive, happy tenants with a newly found independence, safety and ease when living in a home suitable to their needs (figure. 10a). It would however be interesting to hear the responses from an independent source, to see if there were any complaints or suggestions on how the designs could be improved yet further still.
LESSONS FROM EXISTING EXAMPLES By analysing quantitative and qualitative data, examining case studies, first-hand visits, interviews and surveys it is possible to draw conclusions and build recommendations on the best direction for accessible housing. One of the major variable factors pertinent to the three case studies presented here are the availability and types of finance for each individual project; be it through large familial wealth, part government subsidy, charitable donation or re-mortgaging combined with the assets of a previous property. Each house had the means to make commissioning an architect to design a home tailored to their needs viable; which meant the client-architect relationship created integrated discursive opportunities for a detailed personalised process from the outset. The role of the architect as the arrogant overseer, who delivers what they believe to be the best proposition, is slowly fading. By recognising the value of user-led design, architects who adopt the principles are rewarded by the deeper interrogation of their client, manifesting in a more resolved and satisfying scheme. Conclusion 66
fig. 10a (Habinteg, 2018) #ForAccessibleHomes Campaign - Interviews of Their Tenants Opinions on Their New Accessible Homes
Historic schemes have seen countless times the idealised vision that fails to materialise, leading to disgruntled tenants, such as the Savoye’s anger at the poor state of the Villa Savoye (Sbriglio, 2008: 147). Koolhaas’ possibly short-sighted Maison didn’t anticipate what effect the father dying could do to the house dynamic for the remaining and future owners. Wright’s suggestion of switching location, could have had negative consequences on the family, but his gamble ultimately paid off; with the natural landscape winning out as the more desirable setting for a home. The integration of both smart and basic technology has had a huge influence on the daily lives of the disabled; the Ramp House shows a perfect blend of a rudimentary ramp, amongst electric hoists, projector screens, EyeGaze software and voice activated systems. The Maison à Bordeaux would be nothing without the hydraulic piston platform that silently dances between floors; an option that simply would not have been feasible were it not for the falling price and widespread availability of technology within the home. The Laurent House seamlessly included downlights and innovative hinges, and its noncompliance to the 2018 ADA mainly revolves around certain technologies not having been invented in the 1940’s. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House is a masterpiece in holistic environmental design and of the three case studies, is most reminiscent of a typical home. The understated subtle form provided the perfect home for Laurent and his family for decades, living there into their 90’s rather than having to move or relying on alternative care facilities. As Wright’s name is attached, the house has been converted into a museum, but the house retains a charming atmosphere and could still easily be a working domestic home both for disabled and able-bodied families alike, with some possible modernisations. Established for a male in the 1940s, Wright tailored domestic chores to the able-bodied wife, not unusual for the time. Should another wheelchair user move in today, the aspirations of a non-gendered domestic independence would result in some changes to the infrastructure. It would be interesting to see how Wright would’ve handled a brief for a disabled female compared with the male focus. The level of precision Wright employed in the house proves he is yet again a master craftsman of his generation, without decades of ergonomic data, research and building codes, he stands the test of time and of the three is most likely to be widely replicated. A house that many disabled people could only dream of living in. “Wright was simply light years ahead of his time. The majority of architects still are trying to catch up to him more than a half century after his death.” (Buller 2015). As with many ‘starchitect’ projects, the success and infamy of the design becomes inflated, Rem Koolhaas’ Maison à Bordeaux is internationally recognised as an iconic piece of architecture and the house receives much kudos off the back of OMA’s name. That’s not to say the Maison à Bordeaux is a bad design, on the contrary the structural collaboration with ARUP’s Cecil Balmond created a unique feat of engineering, a beautiful balance of mass, glass and geometric form. However, possibly because budget was no object, there was less rigor that went into the design regarding accessibility and the typical comforts of a more modest family home or typical disabled user. Koolhaas interacted with his clients as many architects do, via email or letter, or through a secretary; asking questions about their lifestyle preferences and whether they had a large book collection but didn’t seem to engage with the family directly on a deeper level to understand their unique way of living. Instead there were a lot of assumptions made about life as a wheelchair user, and what it’s like to live with a disabled person, which ultimately lead to the dramatic lift core and unusual room layouts. All houses have reminders of their past inhabitants, but this is perhaps a more extreme very visceral reminder of who this house was specifically tailored, again male-centric, towards one person; the danger of having a scheme so bespoke it has become ironically disabling to able-bodied future occupants. Conclusion 68
Of the three case studies, the Ramp House seems to be the most successful in addressing the needs of the disabled occupant, achieved through careful planning and an evolving conversation with all involved; resulting in an accessible home that perfectly addresses each family member’s needs (figure. 10i). Through a more honest interrogation of space, the design efficiently utilises every inch of the floorplan and is arguably more effective due to the strict rigor and the collaborative efforts of between client and architect regardless of age or ability. The benefit of architects proposing their own house is the level of care, time and intimacy they’re willing to give to the project; whilst able to alter the scheme as they grow with the house with knowledge of the industry and construction methods. Yet still proving that taking extra time to interact and connect with the future occupants’ benefits both architect and user in the final output of the architecture. The Ramp House has a legacy that will easily live on after the McMillan’s leave; they’ve avoided being so bespoke that it would be difficult for other people, disabled or not, to move in after. Representing the 3 core modes of wheelchair access and level change, ramp, lift and bungalow; each case study benefits from integrated technologies and dynamic spatial complexity. Wright’s seamlessly integrated barrier-free bungalow is a great example of 20th C. holistic design, the single level grounding close to nature. Koolhaas’ innovative and subversive house pushes the boundaries of accessible design, the lift a symbolic metaphor raising the awareness of the disabled into the mainstream architectural discourse. The McMillan’s Ramp House utilises the final mode of access, creating a modest domestic home into a triumph of considerate design.
fig. 10i (Francis-Smith, 2018) Disruptive Design: Disability Driving Architectural Innovation at V & A Museum
FINDING A BALANCE IN BESPOKE DESIGN Public opinion on the case studies helped to reinforce my evaluation of the houses concluded via primary and secondary research and first-hand experience. It was important that I engaged directly with disabled people, predominately wheelchair users, to understand their preferences and concerns on spaces designed for their demographic (Appendix A, B, C, D & E). The comments only highlight further the importance of architect-user discussions early in the process as the spectrum within the wheelchair community itself is so varied; it is wrong to assume every ‘wheelchair’ house is suitable for all. Ultimately the most successful accessible home should be flexible but personalised, tailored but not too specific; able to accommodate everyone in household and provide for each individual’s needs but not significantly detract from the rest of the household’s lifestyles. There doesn’t need to be a high level of complexity in a design to address issues. Drawing on Occam’s razor principles, skewing too far towards one person, ability, or group upsets the harmonious balance of a house; whose role and function remains fairly universal even with modern technological advances. A shift in power dynamics through architectural space can be felt if it aims to preferentially benefit one occupant over another; a truly inclusive space provides equality for all. Equal provision is not necessarily an evenly distributed footprint, but the fair accommodation for all to act on an equal level. Disabled people are not more deserving “but I suppose they have more needs. Sometimes people say everything has to be the same and equal, but you think what is the same and equal for different people. Some people do need the bigger box in order to see. Difference between equality and having an equal share, if everyone has an equal share you all move up together, which a lot of people don’t need.” (Appendix E).
EDUCATION & BENEFITS OF ACCESSIBLE HOUSING There is huge potential for improvement, both in new builds and renovation work, to increase the health, happiness and quality of life; with a few basic adjustments to the design process, the housing stock could be elevated to improve the lives of millions of people, not only for the disabled, but for their family, friends and care workers. An inclusive environment is better for all residents, it creates a stronger, happier and more diverse community, with socially segregated ghettos and institutions now becoming increasingly rare. Visibility in the society is essential for greater awareness and understanding of different types of people, backgrounds and abilities. With accessible housing scattered amongst the community it would become normalised and part of the expected fabric of our villages, towns and cities. Co-Housing is a possible method for generating a mixed community, inhabitants with vested interests living amongst all age groups and abilities would help promote a sense of civic identity and form bonds that help target isolation and loneliness. Spreefeld community residential block in Berlin has successfully integrated accessible flats amongst varying age groups and abilities, with communal areas, shared gardens, child care and co-working spaces; using methods promoted by Habraken (1972) (figure. 10b, 10c & 10h). By increasing the quality of housing for the disabled, this would provide greater opportunities for their confidence, independence and would consequently improve employment figures, not only boosting the income potential for the individual and their family but enhance the local and national economy from the influx of a diverse workforce. Conclusion 70
fig. 10b & 10c (Habraken, 2002)
fig. 10h (LaFond and Tsvetkova, 2017) Co-Housing Inclusive Spreefeld cooperative community in Berlin, focused on inter-generational accessible housing
The benefits would also be felt in the wider society, with the taxpayer funded health and social care budget alleviated of the added pressures of ‘bed blocking’ and unnecessary institutionalisation in the NHS and care home facilities, increasing the efficiency and security of the process. Communication with the occupant clearly benefits the output of the design, the privileged position of the professional mixed with the insight of the user creates an empowered joint vision. “Intelligence, creativity, collaborative effect between homeowner and designer.” (Pierce, 2012). The architect’s role should neither be a passive instrument for the client or a patronising supreme controller. The case studies help inform designers of a better approach to design, with user centric focus starting with the disability as the principle inspiration driver, resulting not just in architectural functionality but quality. The Architectural community need to be made more aware of the importance and approach to creating accessible housing and the heterogeneity of the disabled form; seeing standards as guidelines rather than stifling creativity. The industry must educate itself and become enthused before they can advocate to future clients, developers and local councils. One resource often used are the 7 Principles Conclusion 71
of Universal Design, a toolkit and checklist when considering inclusivity (figure. 10d & 10e) (Habinteg, 2015). Accessible design is seen as a niche field that is attached at the end rather than integral to a project; comparable of the attitudes towards sustainable architecture of the 1990s-2000s. Through education, cheaper materials, societal pressures and legislation, green design is present from the outset and taught in architecture schools internationally. Yet inclusive design has tokenistic mentions on courses, often in relation to toilets and lifts, but is not promoted as a fundamental cue for inspiration. Once the education system and the industry acknowledge the importance of accessible user centric design, they can then act as advocates.
7 Principles of Universal Design Principle 1: Equitable Use.
The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
Principle 2: Flexibility in Use.
The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use.
Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
Principle 4: Perceptible Information.
The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
Principle 5: Tolerance for Error.
The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
Principle 6: Low Physical Effort.
The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use.
Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.
fig. 10d (Center for Universal Design, 1997)
fig. 10e (Arnt et al., 2009) Universal Design Principles
fig. 10f (Bordas Eddy, 2017) Parkour for Disabilities Simulations for Empathy-based Architecture
One way for able-bodied architects to empathise is to participate in compulsory disability simulations to experience first-hand visual, age related and mobility impairments, which will lead to more compassionate designs. (figure. 10f). The best outcome for inclusive design is to encourage more disabled people to take up architecture and to accommodate them within the long training courses and into practice. Disabled architects would bring a unique perspective to their work and create a more diverse atmosphere within studios so that a disabled viewpoint is always taken into consideration. Through educating how the full spectrum of people use and interact with buildings, rather than viewing accessibility as a compliance procedure; helping the UK move away from specialist access consultants by creating more well-rounded architectural practices. “There are not enough people available to talk authoritatively and constructively on the subject of accessibility … Accessibility must become mainstream so it will stay” (Architects for Change, 2018) To achieve an integrated inclusive environment there must be a holistic multi-faceted approach to resolving the issue; involving government legislation, architects and future designers of the Built Environment, housing developers, local councils, the disabled community and the end user as well as raising awareness of the issues of disability and old age with society at large. “Professionals are important and, indeed, indispensable, but they must work together with users, user groups, and those who represent them: the politicians and other elected officials.” (Habraken 2002: 3).
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY As Category 2 (an evolution of Life Time Homes) & 3 (wheelchair) dwelling specifications are optional, it is down to Local Councils to adopt standards and regulate their own accessible housing targets in their Local Plan (Approved Document M, 2010). Planning authorities negotiate the percentage of housing output with Developers who focus on financial viability on individual sites. There is a clear case for building new housing as Category 2, as the future of housing revolves around access, flexibility and sustainability to meet the demand of the UK demographic. Some councils have understood their obligations to their constituents i.e. Greater London Authority, Sheffield and Brighton & Hove have adopted 90% Cat. 2 / 10% Cat. 3 all to great effect (Gommon, 2018). Paragraph 67 of the NPPF states planning authorities should have a clear understanding of housing needs in their area, but many are not delivering on their targets (NPPF, 2017). There are currently no consequences for Councils or Developers flouting regulations nor incentives or subsidies for the optional take-up. “Policy makers and housing practitioners need to listen more to disabled people’s frustrations and aspirations in finding or adapting their homes.” (Gilbert 2018: 25). In 2016, the UN criticised the UK government for violating Disabled people’s rights through austerity cuts after having agreed that: Disabled people “have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement.” (CRPD, 2006). Conclusion 73
“The burden of ensuring that an accessible environment is achieved falls too heavily at present on individual disabled people – an approach which is neither morally nor practically sustainable. Instead, we need a proactive, concerted effort by ‘mainstream’ systems and structures – including national and local government and built environment professionals – to take on the challenge of creating an inclusive environment.” (Bean, 2017). Architects and bodies such as RIBA can influence local and national policy makers towards an accessible legislative overhaul, forcing house builders to conform to space standards. Convincing developers to pay an architect to design their housing catalogue would help ensure a higher quality of home, but still retain profits. Private homeowners would also benefit from Councils appointing architects to be consultant in their adaptions department, delivering sympathetic considerate plans that benefit the household; rather than untrained profit driven contractors who are instructed to only aid the disabled individual, often to the detriment of the family. “It has been widely assumed that disabled people do not have the means or money to purchase their own home. This … clearly dispels this myth and shows the demand for buying accessible homes, and the opportunity for developers to look again at their market. Building more accessible homes is a fundamental part of future-proofing the housing market, with a short-term investment and a long term positive social impact on other services.” (Habinteg, 2016). “The small details make it work for a disabled person, or not: the swing of a door, the height of a counter, the placement of a faucet or drain, the slope of the threshold, the contrast of the colours…” (Pierce 2012: 3). Necessity often pushes for new alternatives, and private housing is a place to inspire and push forward more radical proposals, but one-off bespoke homes do not address the larger need for affordable provision. The majority of disabled people are unlikely to be able to afford an independent architectural commission, and as they are more likely to be intertwined and dependant on the paternalistic welfare of the state, they will have little influence on the house layout. It is the social responsibility of architects to influence the design of houses and estates to benefit those who have little voice or power. The private sector offers more opportunity for bespoke tailoring, not only to the disabled user’s requirements, but to provide a space that works for the entire family. Depending again on financial situation, this drastically changes the possibilities and scope of a scheme; money’s no object vs. left to fend for yourself. Ideally, the housing stock in the UK would meet somewhere in the middle, with decent quality accessible housing provision for all new builds; truly accessible, adaptable, flexible homes that offer an affordable cradle to grave lifetime home. Where families can grow old together peacefully and with ease, without the mental burden and physical strain of an unsuitable property. Getting public to understand that disability and old age will come to us all eventually would boost the demand for better quality housing. This would then trickle through into private home adaptations by more cost effective and socially accepted measures.
TECHNOLOGICAL INCLUSION Technology in and around the home has been vital for the liberation of disabled people. There is a natural mistrust and reluctance to accept a new mode of technology, but with each advancement, good tech-design endeavours to enhance quality of life. As accessible technologies become more widely disseminated throughout the health care system and into individual homes, smart systems will become heavily relied on to perform tasks. The cost of devices will reduce as demand increases and newer models are released; but cheaper inclusive tech will only be viable in modest homes when the issues of accessible housing are widely promoted and nationally accepted. The possibilities of technology in accessible housing are huge. It has the potential to have a positive impact on peopleâ€™s lives, but the invasion of privacy and the increasing exposure to EMF is seemingly the price in return. It is perhaps unwise to rely on technology as the sole enabler for an easier, happier life, as they are susceptible to electronic failure and tampering. Rather an integrated solution of simpler traditional modes of access in the Built Environment, face-to-face community relationships and honest human interaction with technology bolstering the real world. Architects will learn to form spaces with technology in mind, creating a seamless symbiotic relationship between man and machine; further improving the lives of disabled people. Yet low tech, elegant and green implementations remain to be the best architectural solution.
fig. 10j (Francis-Smith, 2018) Disruptive Design: Disability Driving Architectural Innovation at V & A Museum
fig. 10k (Bordas Eddy, 2017) Parcours for Disabilities Simulations
ADOPTING USER-LED PRINCIPLES Using the user-centric design principles, other disability groups will also have their architectural concerns addressed. By applying the philosophy, architects and urban designers can ease the interactions of the broader spectrum of disabled people in the Built Environment. Barikor House (figure. 10g) is another example of how thorough understanding of a unique client’s needs can result in a home that has a dramatically positive effect on both the physical and mental health of the occupants. Designed due to their sons’ life-threatening allergies, the scheme was constructed to a high specification using materials with almost no volatile organic compounds. Found in coatings, sealants and adhesives used predominately to prevent water damage in buildings, VOCs are known to emit hazardous pollutants that cause irritation to respiratory conditions (WHO, 1989). Because more time and consideration were afforded in the design phase, and slightly more invested financially to fit out with better products, the parents as well as the children’s quality of living drastically improved in a more accessible home.
fig. 10g (Richmond, 2018) Barikor House - Richmond. Grand Designs Channel 4
Comparative to accessible mobility regulations, a legislative ban on toxic VOC materials would force the industry to build healthier more accessible homes that all future residents would benefit from. Ultimately reducing the cost of cleaner materials due to a higher uptake, much like the demand for accessible mobility technologies becoming more affordable to a wider populous. “Users have different values and different needs. It is impossible to find a solution that fits everybody. A house is a personal thing and must adapt to the user … The functional needs of households differ too. Individual preferences are very important and can only be taken care of on an individual basis.” (Habraken, 2002: 4). By incorporating Habraken’s physical systems and territorial units within the user-led professional and client discussions, a successful inclusive house may be achieved ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ (figure. 10b, 10c & 10j). Empathetic, sincere observation and listening skills are what all good architects must develop. Interacting and engaging tasks such as the Ramp House models used with the child inspired curiosity and sparked deeper conversation (figure. 9k). A well-rounded approach to accessible housing in the UK could influence other countries to address their thinking towards inclusive design, and promote the importance of user engagement before building, rather than retrofitting existing infrastructure. With 1 billion disabled people globally, 15% of the world’s population, dignity, autonomy and freedom to choose couldn’t be more pertinent (Leonard Cheshire, 2018) (United Nations, 2017). Psychogeography is essential when considering the effects of poor design, and in particular, accessible housing. The evidence for empathetic spaces clearly show a significant benefit on mental and physical health; with quality of life improved from an individual to a national scale. Conclusion 76
fig. 10l (Bordas Eddy, 2017) Illustration of The User Experience Hierarchy of Needs
“We depend on our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. We look to our buildings to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of ourselves.” (De Botton, 2006: 107). Our “environment has a profound impact on who we are and whether we can fulfil our potential” (Pierce, 2012). Our homes provide a place for self-expression, a moment to act out our true selves free of the gaze of others; the safe haven integral to our wellbeing. The disabled are discriminated against through no fault of their own, and society has a legal and moral responsibility to look after the vulnerable and disadvantaged. The Built Environment may not be consciously exclusive, but it also isn’t purposefully inclusive. Accessible housing provides relief, it removes the burden to so many trapped within what should be a nurturing environment. A place where “disabilities disappear, and the living is easier for everyone … When our homes are truly planned with the whole person in mind, we can transcend the ordinary”. (Pierce, 2012: 5) Most people can’t change the fundamentals of how they live, only altering their space superficially. Disability forces true revelatory transformation, a catalyst to analyse one’s bodily engagement with the space they inhabit, an opportunity to approach disability as a fundamental of design. “Disability is a fact, but not the defining fact of life.” (Pierce, 2012). By continually assessing the needs of all body types and incorporating the ideas, values and inspirational movements of the inclusive agenda, social responsibility, decent housing provision, intersectional acceptance and user-led design, millions will be able to look beyond their ‘disabled’ identifier and benefit from a world free of barriers and architectural prejudice. Conclusion 77
APPENDIX A PRIVATE SUBMISSION - PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF COUNCIL ASSESSMENT TO PROVIDE ACCESSIBLE HOUSING Question:
I’m writing my Architecture Masters thesis on Disability in the Home. It would really help me if you were able to write a few lines on what your home means to you. How it makes you feel, why you want to keep returning there, whether or not it’s accessible, any struggles or areas you can’t use/get to. I’m looking at the emotional/experiential side as well as the practical. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanking you all in advance. Amy Francis-Smith Responses:
“My home is my safe space. Everything from having cabinets that reach the ceiling to keep dusty spots to a minimum to soft white LED lighting, to the seat built into my shower which has a wand has a purpose. We have an intercom system so I can call the children down stairs easily. We installed a whole house water filter system and have two full sized kitchen sinks so one is my “safe sink”. I chose a full sized freezer and fridge (5’ total) to make fewer grocery trips each month (an unsafe activity for me). The layout of our home is important as all of the essentials that I need to access are on the main level, for those really bad days I don’t feel I can climb the stairs... I have a laundry chute so the kids can just drop it down to me. We also added a humidifier and dehumidifier. In my opinion (as an interior designer by edu/profession & someone who was planning to attain my masters in arch, but illness prevented going back to school) Not only are the layout/design and the specified finishes important to someone with a disability, but the actual construction of the home and the contractors chosen are of equal importance. IMO, Architects with clients who have disabilities also need to help to guide their clients to make provisions in their contract to prevent against things like the water closet shrinking because the contractor Thought it was better this way, or making it clear how imperative it is to keep any mold from entering during framing (like the crawlspace, window and door openings, subfloors) while this may be an inconvenience for able people to deal with, it can have deadly results for people like us. Also, the home has to work as a whole for the disabled, from the landscape architecture (especially drainage provisions) to the structure of the home to the finishes selected inside it all has to be a cohesively safe space. One also has to think ahead, of their disability worsens, what provisions are being taken to make any transitions easier without having to undergo another large project. Back to finishes: when selecting finishes, unless one is ensured they will always be able to afford a housekeeper, finishes that are easy to clean is very important, using all of your “spoons” to clean is not where most of us would like to be. Appendix A 78
Many disabled people need aids throughout the home, but do not necessarily want it to feel like they are living with a commercial ADA bathroom or a waiting room for their doctor. They want it to feel comforting, peaceful and warm while staying safe & making their life easier. Planning very far ahead when designing for a disabled person is imperative. The architect or designer has to have all the details ironed out before construction begins in order to guarantee that the team (owners/architect/designer/contractors) are prepared for anything that is not typical. Deciding things after the build has begun can really alter the desired outcome in many situations and decisions “on the fly” is unacceptable. Architecture is not only about the love to create a space for your client to live in, but to make it their safest space that still feels like home. “I’m a wheelchair user, and an Architect. My home is a place where J am constantly striving to change to suit me. It is sometimes hard to rationalise my needs for design satisfaction versus practical... aids and adaptations are generally old fashioned and not to my liking.. I have EDS, MCAD, arthritis, fibromyalgia, dystonia, dysautonomia.. my home has adaptations, some paid for by council. I was able to the drawings for work partly funded by a disabled facilities grant to provide an upstairs toilet, and added a shower which I had to fund. I could do with more space, and would rather have a more stylish environment. Husband is an Architect, working unlike me as I am too ill. He gets frustrated with my mobility aids being ugly too... My home is a place where I spend a lot of time...” It is a daily struggle... I used to do a lot of work in Social housing. Lifetime Homes by Joseph Rowntree Trust. Homes built with the ability to easily be adapted should the needs of the family change. There is a huge market out there for aids that are delightful and useful... “My home has changed a lot in the years we’ve lived in it. We chose it because it felt like a home but it was bought to be a family home and it was hard to live in during 10 years of infertility. Her room had been called the nursery all the years before she arrived and it was a true nest for her. I sat in that room all through my pregnancy, talking to her and singing The house became a home once our daughter came home with us. I remember walking her around all the rooms and talking her through the things we’d do together in them. She quickly took over our home and our lives and our dining room became her play room and then a music room when she took up music. When she was 10 I became severely disabled; both sight impaired and needing to use a wheelchair. The home became the only place in the world where I felt safe. I knew every corner of every room and could navigate it without feeling blind. We were blessed that all the doors were wide enough for my chair and so I felt free in our home. Outside the house I was scared and disabled and felt stared at; inside I felt loved and needed still as a mum. 2.5 years later I could no longer even pull myself up the stairs and spent 3 months sleeping on the sofa and strip washing at the sink. At that point our home became a frustration for the first time. I couldn’t get to my teenager when she took herself upstairs, I couldn’t get to my things but had to ask someone to get them. It was an awful time and I struggled with the physicality of the house. Yet it was still our home and we didn’t want to leave; we still felt connected to the home and the location and the history we had there. How my home makes me feel - safe, relaxed, loved and needed. Why you want to keep returning there - it’s the place I feel most relaxed and least vulnerable whether or not it’s accessible - yes it is. Any struggles or areas you can’t use/get to - the back garden isn’t accessible yet and that’s the final project we’re saving up for.” Appendix A 79
“I have been registered disabled since 2005 although I was born with a heart defect and mild spina bifida. As I went through my later 30.s, 40.s and now my 50’s my mobility is severely reduced and I also live with anxiety and depression. I live alone. My home is completely set up to make me as independent as possible. With a wet room, grab rails, perching stoop, lever taps, a trolley to wheel things around on and an electric bed. I live in a very rural location and this helps my mental health tremendously. Town life is too intense and too fast for me. Ideally, I would live in a cottage on the beach. My home is my safe place - where I can be who I need to be and not feel the pressure to live up to other’s expectations. It is well designed, so I can move from room to room with in the knowledge that there is a place to sit as my legs often give way. It is owned by a housing association and that affords me access to care and support services provided by the landlord. These services have boosted my independence whilst being sensitive to my daily and long-term needs. At the end of a day - I come home and feel happy to have a secure and safe place. This has only happened this year and I struggled for a long time in another property without support so value this situation more than ever.” “I am the mom of the patient(s), including a wheelchair bound young adult daughter who becomes very discouraged about the interruptions to her college studies. I run a general contracting firm w my husband, we wish universal design was, well- more universal. You just don’t expect to have this situation in your life. We realize it will be almost impossible for our daughter to find college housing that is easily accessible, when she is well enough to live independently. I think having space that is open provides a feeling of safety and security.” “I’m 35, and am seriously ill and predominantly bedridden. Every single day I need the toilet but can’t get there, and go without food or bathing for the same reason. I haven’t been able to get downstairs to open the doors since 2000. My bedroom is my only *safe place* but isn’t even that as it’s full of my allergens and because of the exposures from outside of the house. I have disability aids including ones installed all around the house. I am completely housebound and will die here.” “I built an extension as office/reception and clinic room with all my wants such as sky lights, windows have to have blinds drawn etc. Used it for 5 years professionally and have spent the last 10 years living in what was reception as bedroom and clinic room as hobby room for sewing and painting, and a sitting room with a different view. My height adjustable desk now houses my painting materials that is super convenient. I am 5 paces from loo/shower and 7 to fridge and cooker and on separate heating circuit. I would have designed differently for WC user living here but as it had to be suitable for my disabled patients I can’t see much that would have improved this section of the house. Also has disabled friendly entrance that rest of old house doesn’t. Way at the back of the house so much quieter. We plan and god laughs?” “Ms has changed my life!! Me and my 2 year old are currently sleeping down stairs. I’m lucky to have a 8 and 11 year old who help so much. Been in band A for a year with Wakefield council..6+ bungalows have passed by and I’m thinking how much longer. I feel like I’m divided from the eldest 2..u have care team to help...i feel I’m not enough tbh. I’m not me” “I am mostly home bound due to disabilities and to me, Home is my sanctuary, the place I feel the safest and in many ways, the place I feel my best! Our main living spaces are all on one floor and even though we bought the house before I became disabled, this was a big selling point of the house. I live in a small community of about 25 homes and although there are neighbours, it is very peaceful and quiet here. Lots of windows allows me to sit in different rooms and see the trees and the gardens outside. Windows open brings in the singing of birds and lots of light on sunny days! Big, open bathrooms with grab bars in all the right places, along with a walk in shower certainly make life easier! Wood floors with no scatter rugs ensures that there are no trips and falls, although I do use a Appendix A 80
walker inside. When I do venture out for appointments or an occasional activity, I always look forward to getting “home.” Settling into my favourite chair, feet raised and all the necessities around me, I once again feel secure and can rest and recover. My house is not only my home, it’s an office, a movie theatre, a restaurant, a library, a spa, a concert, a meeting place for friends, a family gathering event maker, and all the other activities I can no longer do but try to replicate as best as I can in my space, my home.” “Lift windows are way too heavy. They’re really not technically even safe for me in an emergency as I can’t really lift them - even when “spring loaded” they still too heavy and stick a lot even when new. How a disabled person can egress in an emergency ON THEIR OWN should they need - is something I feel like does not get enough attention. A lot is put into how we get INTO a house normally - not how we would get out - ...abnormally (as in not right back out the front door). I live in a HIGH fire zone so I am required to have thought on this a lot. I LOVE *NOT* having stairs anymore. I LOVE that I live in a small space, large places are too hard to clean.” “Windows are definitely problematic! Our house is 200 years old. When I was in a wheelchair I couldn’t get through most of the doors. We only have a tub with shower. Getting in and out was difficult. Stairs inside are steep and narrow, I seldom go upstairs” “Born and raised in the family home! Purchased the home and kicked the family out to raise my own family. Spent every penny on remodelling making it truly new and mine! Thought I would die here, not! Now that I have this disability all I want to do is downgrade into a smaller one floor house where I have control over! I have lost all control in my large family home! It’s too big!!!!” “I’m fortunate to live in an ADA compliant apartment. 1st floor, emergency pull cords in the bedroom and bathroom, walk-in shower, large entry and doorways, no cabinets under sinks or kitchen counter, activities on site daily, coffee get togethers weekly, lunch provided for a small fee M-F, teas and recycle inside at the end of the building, mail boxes inside in lobby, secured building, courtyard with benches, chairs, tables, covered areas, carts available to bring in groceries, laundry on site, assigned parking, close to bus, close to stores and restaurants, maintenance on site during business hours and on call 24/7, staff including activities director and housekeeper on site during business hours, library, meeting room, sunroom with a view of Pikes Peak, workout room, and nice neighbours. We do fire drills regularly. I’m by an exit door so can get out quickly. Because I’m on the 1st floor there are bars on the windows so I couldn’t get out the window if the hall wasn’t accessible. Fire department has priority status for our buildings. Front doors to apartments are fire doors. It’s 500+ sf, bedroom, living room, kitchen, entryway, bathroom, plenty big enough for me. Low shelves and hanging bars in all closets. Pocket doors in pantry, bathroom, coat closet to keep access clear. I don’t have a wheelchair but I appreciate all the room and easy access. It’s the perfect place for me and the rent is subsidized so affordable. I just lucked into it. It usually takes 2 years to get in but I somehow got approved in a month! It was meant to be.” “I am very fortunate the house that I am renting was owned by a paraplegic. Looking for semi affordable adaptive housing was a nightmare. My wife also needed a lot of room for her reupholstery shop. Found a place that has a walkout basement. When it is nice out I can drive my power chair to the sliding glass door.” “We downsized from a house into a ground floor condo two years ago. NO STAIRS. I love that there are no stairs. I love coming home to our puppy. We have such “earthy” colours and mood lighting. We were able to remodel the whole place before moving in. The master bedroom bath is like a mini-spa. Very relaxing atmosphere. Also, we pay dues to have a pool and the grounds and snow removal. My favourite thing in our home has to be the adjustable bed. I have to add that right now I am laying
down in the back of our RV. On our way to Denver from Chicago. My husband does most of the driving. We have had the RV for a year and have had three big trips. Our “bedroom” is cosy like being in a cocoon. We are trying to visit as many places as we can in three years (and before I get worse).” “Just downsized. Lived for 26 years (raised our son) in a beautiful home on a mountain preserve lot with wildlife in our backyard. It was emotionally and physically challenging to leave. Now 4 weeks in to our smaller place I see the benefits of the move, but I don’t think I’ll ever be emotionally attached to this place, and fear I will always miss my “home” - not just because I loved it, but because leaving feels like giving hope that I will get better. I live for hope, and usually find it easy to be hopeful but this was so major I’m struggling. I guess I’m saying that for me home is my sanctuary, my safe place, my memories of healthy times ...its hard to Express or stress how much our homes to mean to us.” “Home is where I normally am, it is getting too big for me to keep as clean as I would like, so I am starting to look for something smaller. Home is where I can feel as crappy as I like and not have to worry about someone seeing me, it keeps me warm and safe.” “My house is where I wanna be because it’s my home where my family is mostly everything in my room is set up so I can meet you at the rest of the house not so much but I would rather be home than to be in a hospital any day” “Our home is no longer suitable for my husband . He lives in our lounge. We are looking to move to make our lives less stressful . This will also give him a bit more independent living. we also have 3 bed house and my husband cannot get upstairs. Today we view a 2 bed DPU (disabled persons unit) as they would not adapt our house.” “See are an elderly disabled couple living in an elderly persons bungalow with one medium sized bedroom and one tiny second bedroom , which because of one of my conditions is PTSD , having to sleep with the light on, my hubby can’t so has to sleep in it. My question is why do authorities do this two bedrooms , one tiny and one reasonable , it beats me!” “I’m on crutches, with callipers on both legs, stuck in a 2 bed house for the last 12 years. I was told no adaptations can be done on this property. I have hospital letters stating I must live in single storey accommodation and can’t get it.” “We have been trying desperately to move to Clacton for nearly 3 years now to be closer to family for help and support due to my deteriorating health. Have been on loads of swapping sights but havn’t had any luck. The stress of trying to do this is causing more harm than good. We are unable to register on the housing list with Clacton council as we haven’t lived in the area for at least 3 years! How crazy is that!!! If you would like any further details Amy, would be only too happy to help.” “I live in a 3 bed house but live down stairs cuz i cant physically get up stairs! I don’t want to move house cuz my family live near and my daughters college is near too! I don’t have no privacy cuz my bed is in the living room! My toilet and wet room is downstairs too ! I’m depressed most of the time but I’m grateful where I live!” “My home is my space where I can relax and hide away from all the stresses of modern life. I can decide what I do and when. I have my own things where I know where they are. It gives me comfort.” “My home is my prison. I’m unable to leave it on my own bcos we live on the side of a steep hill and the access is too steep for the powerchair. Within the house the configuration makes it impossible to manoeuvre in my chair so I have to struggle around the house using a rollator which I mostly sit on and push along with my limited leg strength. I am unable to access the fridge and cupboards and I cannot lift the kettle or carry a cup of tea from one room to another, so I need maximum care. A different, more open plan house, would give me much more freedom and would enable me to be a Appendix A 82
little more independent.” “Currently the household chores have become too much for me to manage. Simple things like standing at the sink is difficult and painful.” “I get IVIG at home and feel more comfortable because if I need to lay down I can do so in my own bed. It’s familiar to me and I feel safe.” “We moved out of our house of 18 years due to my illness. I am officially disabled. I walk with a cane when I can and when I can’t my husband lugs me around. In our garage under house there were two sets of stairs, one to get in the house and another to get to the bedroom. Misplaced doors when it was built were a problem, I was always getting bruised on them. For example, the door to both bathrooms opened into it but directly behind it was a full sized closet door that opened out. If they had just put a pocket door for the door into the bathroom it would have helped. We carefully chose this brand new apartment when we sold the house three years ago. It cost about $400 more than older apartments but has the following that keeps me safe: an elevator that runs on a generator when the power goes out; a safe room on each floor, if during a fire the elevator doesn’t work. It is code; two bathrooms in a small apartment that is very important because this disease affects my bladder and bowels; a lobby where I can wait for the ADA van without being cold or overheated; an open floor plan of living, kitchen and dining with no interior doors to get in my way; doors are wide enough to get a wheelchair through but in the bedroom a pocket door to the bathroom would have been an improvement; a slim, covered balcony where I can easily sit outside in good weather if I’m not able to walk outside; a gas fireplace so if the power goes out we can still heat the apartment; heated brick walkways and parking that melt snow, so it is almost always safer for me to get in and out of the building and car; a washer and dryer in the apartment, so I can help, though it being stacked and behind a door that can’t open all the way is a problem.” “For me, home is a sanctuary as I am able to go out and about on my own (despite not being that well). For those who have completely debilitating symptoms, I imagine home is both a safe sanctuary and also a limbo-like prison. I know where every seat is and also every surface to lean on if needed.” “I have hEDS, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis as well as POTS. My house is completely awful. I wish I could move. I struggle to manage the stairs, the only bathroom is downstairs while bedrooms are upstairs, so sometimes I have to sleep on the sofa or I wouldn’t be able to get to the toilet. My bathroom isn’t insulated and the heating for it isn’t adequate - so the only way to stay warm in the bath or shower is to make it really hot and steam the bathroom up - which makes my POTS worse, but otherwise I get unmanageable pain in my joints. The landlord also won’t let me put grab rails etc in. The stairs and hallways are too narrow so cannot use a crutch indoors, let alone a wheelchair when it’s necessary, and can’t have a stair lift installed. I can’t bend down to access the oven either, so my partner has to do all the cooking. I feel like a prisoner in my own home much of the time.” “A comfortable bed/bedroom is absolutely necessary because I spend so much time in bed.. The rest of the house (including my bed/bedroom, I try to at least keep the bed clear of random messes) is am absolute disaster (to put it lightly). I’m a single mom and when I walk thru the door, my heart sinks every time because I can’t keep up with the constant disaster. It’s always on my mind. I feel like such a failure that I can never have company over and it just never feels comfortable. I feel like regular housecleaning should be offered by insurance companies or something to chronic illness patients. Who knows might keep certain germs away, keep a person’s mind sane and save them from paying for their doctor’s/psychiatrists appts...” “This is complex for me as a uni student. My uni flat means freedom. I can use my wheelchair around the whole thing. Use my wheelchair in the kitchen when I’m getting food. When I go home I struggle. I struggle to use my crutches around the house as the house is too small for me to use my chair
around it. This causes me more pain and fatigue.” “Home to me is my sanctuary, I don’t have to hide how I really feel and I can just be me. I spend more time and money on my house than myself, if it looks good I feel good. On the flip side home is also my prison, when things get too much and I need more rest my housework gets on top of me. I can’t cope with the stress an untidy house brings me. I can’t cope with the loneliness. I think too much and my mind goes into overdrive. So when I’m out I just want to be home, and when I’m cooped up for days I just want to be out.. explain that one lol” “My home now is my safe place. As a young person with chronic illness, it seems to be very uncomfortable/unbelievable for others to see me in pain. I can finally think about me. It’s about me balancing the home now. I have a 7 month old and twins I care for that are 2 and a half. So now its strategy. This whole chronic illness is a game of strategy. I live in a two story apartment. There are no elevators. It’s hard to get groceries up, laundry down plus children. I wish the closets didn’t come if track so easily. My shoulders constantly hurt, the floors are always cold and my arthritis does not agree! Also, the parking isn’t set up very well. Regardless of a garage or a parking spot (handicap) it is still far away. The handicap doesn’t make parking easier either.” “Home is everything to me. It’s where I feel safe. I’m a massive homebody. I bought my first home last year and had to leave after only 9 months because of my disabilities. I have never been so upset. I feel like I lost a part of who I am. Luckily thanks to the NDIS here in Australia I’ll be able to move back into my own home next year.” “Easy access storage! Where did this go? This is important for everyone but especially those of us who can’t go up and down pull down attic stairs at every holiday.” “Home is where you we should go without judgement. Without being ridiculed for our illness. It is a place where we can do what we need and be helped from the people that love us for who we are.” “I love to cook but find it difficult with POTS. Between bending up and down to grab things then standing for a bit I get exhausted pretty quickly. Often I’ll pull a barstool into the kitchen so I can sit while stirring/chopping, etc. My crockpot saves a ton of effort but even getting the food prepped and tossed in can be a challenge. I definitely think there is an opportunity to rethink some kitchen elements to be more friendly to the disabled/chronically ill.” “My home is such a safe place to be for me. I feel like I’m in more control than if I’m out. Outside these walls is a more scary as I don’t always know what & when something might happen i.e. feeling anxious, flare up of pain, someone might bump me, etc, etc. I don’t feel like my house is a prison even though I guess it is. I have been so lucky with my husband, parents and friends who help me around the house when I’m not up to it. I use night lights in bathroom, hallway & kitchen with my salt lamp beside my bed. I don’t feel secure walking around in darkness. I take my night lights with me whenever I’m staying overnight night anywhere ie hotels, parents house, etc My bed is really my haven. Our unit isn’t that big but just a good size for my husband and our fur baby. We didn’t needed to really change anything inside but I have an outdoor camping clothes line that I can use if I’m unable to reach up to use our standard clothes line.” “My home is kind of heaven and hell. hell because I’m trapped, but heaven because it’s also my safe haven. it’s where I rest, and it’s also where I’m in pain. but regardless I have my mom and pets, and that makes it better.” “My home isn’t very accessible, either door has two tall steps to negotiate and the cupboards are mostly too high or too low for ease of use. There’s always some mess I can’t clean up, but there’s also the freedom to leave it a mess.” Appendix A 84
“My home is where I can help my pain stretch out on my couch with my heat pad. And just be me.” “I have POTS, HEDS, MECFS, cranial cervical instability, Reynaud’s, and suspected mast cell activation. We sold the home my dad and husband built next door to my parents because I couldn’t do stairs anymore and we both had a long commute. We were very picky that we have 1 level, no basement. We also wanted to downsize. We found a brand new house with what we were looking for. We had the contractor change knobs to handles as I cannot turn knobs. That was 4 yrs ago. Since that move I’ve become bedridden and on good days I can shuffle to my daughter’s room. My home makes it possible for me to get around a bit better. We’ve added smart home features so I can turn on/ off lights, fans, AC/heat from my bed. I can also see who’s at the front door, speak to them, and if needed unlock the door to let them in. My house is my whole world. I am lucky to have the funds to change things. While we are further away from family, on a good day I can shuffle anywhere I need to in my house. In my old home it had become a prison. I’d go upstairs (a whole flight) when I got home from work and I couldn’t come back to the family area again. I still have anxiety thinking about how many times I’ve fallen up/down those stairs. It’s freedom. This home I’m in now is freedom.” “Home is my safe place away from the world and all its’ triggers. It is the one place I feel like I can really let down and unwind.” “I have Arnold chiari Malformation, Degenerative disc disease, Spinal stenosis, Pots, Hydrocephlaus, Depression Anxiety, and more. My home is my safe place. Stairs can be a challenge on some days. Getting in and out the tub to shower is a challenge some days. I keep stuff I use everyday in areas I can easily access. Other wise I need someone else to get things. I can do light cleaning, any deep cleaning like vacuuming, bathroom. Laundry I cannot do.” “I hate that my house has steps, my next house will be a ranch. I would also love a part of the counter tops to be like a desk so I can sit when I chop veggies or whatever.” “Our home took us years to get to, we had to deal with two very unsuitable places first. We love our home but it is sad my husband can’t access the garden by himself in his chair. It’s little things that make the difference.” “In a world where everything feels stacked against you, home is the one place where your disability comes first. It’s so essential that my home works for me and my disabilities – so that it is a safe haven and a place of low stress to allow me to deal with the rest of the world which is variably accessible and often unsafe.” “My home is my safe place, somewhere I bought to share with my family and animals (we have several rescues). Accessibility wasn’t an issue when we purchased it. However, with my needs now changing, it certainly isn’t accessible now. We have a gravel drive on a slope with 2-3 steps down to a footpath around the house, then a large step into the house. Internal doors seem to be ok with width but external ones are too narrow. Also can’t get round the house in chair due to the layout of some of it.” “I find my home causes me a lot of anxiety and I don’t want to keep returning here because I dread returning to an empty home. It’s still undergoing a lot of changes to make it more accessible but it never will be truly accessible.” “My home isn’t really accessible we rented it before I became a wheelchair user and I live in two rooms now.” “My home is a cause of stress for all the family. It has some adaptions which make me lucky Appendix A 85
compared to others but the layout can make independent movement in my chair tricky and frustrating. We are on the waiting list for a new house so this one does not feel like home and even though we have unpacked our belongings no one is able to fully settle. I miss my garden as I can get out but not back in on my own. Not having an adapted kitchen is also a bone of contention as I have to ask my girls 16 & 17 to help cook dinner as I can’t reach worktops or cooker hob. I try and spend as much time away from home as this is what I’m used to (pre accident). I have no emotional connection to my house as feels like a bit of a prison especially when I’m home alone.” “I have environmental sensitivities and react very strongly in a negative health way to fragrances of any kind. I live in a multi unit apartment building and this creates a challenge for me. I am on disability and do not have the available finances to choose to live in a single dwelling home and be free of others smells. I also have no washer and dryer to use as the common use apartment ones are full of fragrant laundry products. Thankfully, after an almost two year struggle with the landlord, they agreed to change the fragrance cleaners used in the common areas of the building. I was literally sick every time they used them and I had to enter the hallway to leave my apartment and enter the entranceway of the building. Now my challenge is to have the landlords enforce that the laundry room door stays shut and that they install a ventilation fan to ventilate the laundry smells outside so as they do not stay in the hallways of the building. I consider my apartment/home to be my sanctuary where I can be as free as possible from environmental contaminants. It is a serious challenge to find housing for those of us with environmental sensitivities. Something such as a common need to do laundry can become impossible with shared machines. I am in Ontario, Canada and there is the right to accommodation for your disabilities. It is a challenge to get a landlord to abide by it as usually when one has a disability you are using your energy to get everyday needs met let alone start to be an advocate for your rights.” “My home means safety to me until I venture out to be chemically assaulted by neighbours laundry.” “Right now it means being stuck in a place where I can’t plan on getting water to drink, having room to store or the ability to prepare food to eat, being able to use a bathroom, take a shower, wash laundry, or have room to work with others on projects to empower me because I am stuck living in an abusive situation and forced to be dependent on others for most of what I need. Fumes from things others do and products others use that often keep me from being able to leave my bedroom, allergen exposures from things they bring in, and lack of space due to their hoarding prevent anything that resembles a functional life. It is almost impossible to do anything, and everything requires more work than it should. Right now it means having winter approaching and not being able to plan on dressing, never mind dressing in warm clothing, due to unhealthy situations, toxic people, and no regular access to laundry facilities. It, and everything that keeps me stuck in the temporary living situations that are called home, are an example of everything that is wrong with our society. Social Security should be required to be a living wage level payment so that we can all have accessible homes. An accessible home would have a washer for bedding, one for clothing in decent enough shape, and one for severely damaged clothing so that things aren’t ruined by damaged goods when you try to wash laundry. It would have a guest suite with kitchen area, bathroom, laundry facilities for guests, significant others, caretakers. It would have a protected porch area with windows that could be opened for off gassing of new items/damaged items. It would have entrances that allow easy access to laundry facilities or other things that need repair from outside so that people don’t have to walk through the entire house to repair things. It would have any utility related stuff (water heater, etc.) in an area that is accessible from an outside entry for repairs and which is as well insulated as possible from the living space (minimal air gaps, etc.) so that fumes are less likely to enter the living space if something needs to be cleaned, replaced, etc. It would be built with net zero/passive techniques in mind so that it would be cheap to heat and cool, built with healthy materials that are easy to Appendix A 86
maintain and don’t require regular painting, sealing, etc., and which are hypoallergenic. It would be set up to be self sufficient enough so that appliances like the refrigerator, freezer, a microwave or stove top burner, water pump, and water heater can be run even if the electricity goes out, perhaps with a masonry heater or wood stove for backup heat in winter. It would have a garage so that scraping ice and snow off of a car wouldn’t produce or aggravate injuries. Ideally, it would be in a healthy community, with things like Petco, A grocery store, a Trader Joe’s, some place where you can get a hair cut, gas stations that pump for you and do repairs, ideally places like a kitchen supply/ home electronics and appliances type places all accessible. If I had someone who could help with managing accounts for fundraising and project management efforts, this could have been a reality near where I am, now. That is something that I would look forward to being in.” “My current house is made of unsafe materials and has mold/woodstove & cig smoke (from my husband smoking in there for years - he no longer does, but it still burns my mouth & lungs when I go in there.) I have been living in a tent the last 5 summers & wake up feeling like a human. I have been struggling for about 5 yrs designing, choosing materials that agree with me & learning methods of preventing mold, now trying to get it done being built - a tiny safe home. My hope is for it to replicate the effects of the tent in a bit more normal & safe, less of a constant struggle type of lifestyle. It is coming on to winter which is a time of cold & stress for me - I have a fixed up insulated chicken coop with a couple electric heaters, hot plates, fridge freezer & composting toilet. Electricity is expensive here so I keep it between 45 & 50 most of the time (then it warms up some when I cook.) I go back & forth from my house to see my husband a few days at each place (which is exhausting) the chicken coop is not as good as the tent, but still better that my house & the outside air is a lot better, so I can get fresh air outside at least. My biggest concerns in housing are safe bold materials put together in a way to prevent mold, etc the products used in an individual house are up to the occupant but neighbours woodsmoke laundry products, etc can get in at most locations, so if I weren’t in a remote area that would be a problem of concern as well (I am 10 miles from my house to avoid this problem now.)” “Apartment architecture in most cases is atrocious because most do not have proper cross ventilation with windows only on one side of the unit. Modern homes are also atrociously built because the industry thinks that mechanical ventilation can replace old fashioned architectural natural ventilation through doors and windows. Having the disability of chemical/environmental sensitivities renders indoor spaces uninhabitable and illness inducing poisonous sources of chronic bodily harm.” “It’s my safe haven, i could not find anything workable in the early 1990s when i was very ill, so i moved to a clean area and remodelled using mostly low tox materials (which were hard to find in those days) and it has been my main safe haven ever since (i had another house for a while too, but that becomes too long a story). I cannot live in most housing, which would have ordinary components, possible past pesticide use, fresh paint, floor cleaners, fragrances, etc. I become non-functional in many other home environments that i have visited, at my home i am able to be functional and productive and run my own part time business.” “My home is my safe haven but often feels like jail. It’s tolerable, most of the time, unless neighbours mow, blow and barbeque.” “My home was my safe place but we had to get a new electric furnace/heat pump this year. We have no gas in our area and we have had our other furnace for 37 years. Now I reacting terribly to it. I’ve been ill for the past 3 weeks. I have nowhere else to go. I hope it off gasses ( if that what Is needed) soon. I’m getting really depressed caused from helplessness and hopelessness. Taking one day at a time and trying to be outdoors. Thank God the weather has cooperated. I live near Chicago so I don’t what will happen in the future.” Appendix A 87
“My home is my sanctuary where I can go to get away from all the things that make me ill, perfume, paint fumes, car fumes, air freshener, cleaners, ammonia, sizing on textiles etc I have a filter for my house and a HEPA filter with a charcoal pre-filter for my bedroom which is the cleanest area where I can retreat on bad days.” “My home means everything to me, my husband and I were teen parents and had 3 kids in 5 years then a 4th 4 years later. We have built a successful business raised our children, built our dream home and now are going to be grandparents. Our 1st home was tiny we then built our dream house.. kids moved out and now I have a huge empty house. But hubby has tried to make easy for me, laundry is upstairs now right next to my room.” “Our home is where I feel safe. We have been here 18 years. I’m getting a main floor washer & dryer so I don’t risk my life going up & down these archaic steps have no railing & very steep to the point of me having to crawl up the stairs like a ladder. Try doing it w/a full basket of laundry. Not safe for me because my balance & dizzy spells make me trip or just plain fall.” “My home is my safe haven and prison all in one, as it’s the place I can rest when needed but don’t get to leave nearly as often as I like. Its disability accessible only because I have spent a good amount of money to make it that way and as a nurse I am very familiar with what options are available. I still pay out of pocket for an aide to shave my legs once a week because doing it myself is exhausting and not the best use of my energy.. most days a shower is a pretty heavy task. I have quotes (decoration) and little reminders in every room to remind me to fight, keep my chin up. (A fortune cookie paper that says, “In great attempts it is glorious even to fail” and wooden plaques that say, “falling down is part of life getting back up is living” & “you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” “My home is my number one weapon in the war. I can barely take care of it, if you can even call it that today.” “I agree my home is now a prison. If I make plans to do something outside of it I can’t always be sure even the night before if I will have the strength to go. I am fortunate that being 66 I am retired so I have the luxury of having what I call a bed day when I need it.” “It was way too much for me to maintain a house with lawn and pool. I sold the house and purchased a zero step entrance, single story condo. All the water, exterior maintenance and clubhouse, exercise room and pool upkeep are covered by a reasonable monthly fee. Best decision. I let go of the home memories and moved on with my life or what’s left of it.” “My home is where I live the rest of time with my 2 daughters and their father. Which is unaffordable as only one healthy person is able to work and pay for everything. Lucky to be able to wipe our butts...” “My home is where I can relax and rely on family to help. My husband and I knew to find a one story ranch home that we could handle as we got older. It is now paid for, such a blessing to own our home. Our 3 children live within walking distance and we are blessed with two Grandkids with one more on the way. My home is family, and memories, and handicap accessible on the inside. Will probably add outside ramps when we decide it is needed.” “Biggest problem with lots of home is they don’t have any first floor bedroom and full bathroom for wheelchair users.” “I live in a mobile home. It’s only 3 stairs to get up. Still very hard and sometimes fall.” “I was diagnosed MCAS in January. I believe the reason I remained in relatively decent health (I had Appendix A 88
a pheo and heart failure caused in part by my mcas, among many other mcas problems) for so long was that I live in an ICF home that is relatively water tight, has radiant heat floors, and is low voc. This year with the rains we had we may have had some water damage in the basement. I am not able to go into my basement right now and we are investigating the possible mold issue. As far as quality of life in my house, I need air conditioning to help manage my mcas and I do not have that right now. for aesthetic reasons we need to do some projects like staining beams and repainting after 15 years and that won’t work for me with my scent and chemical sensitivities. I will have to find a place to go for a while the project is done. My not being able to help with the jobs adds to my guilt which makes me feel more ill... these are just a few details of how my house makes me feel/ how I operate in it.” “My home helps me stay calm. I’m newly diagnosed with MCAS and learning that it may have a role in my outbursts. My home is insecure as my children are aging out of support and I can’t afford this house without that support. I already took in a roommate, but it isn’t enough.” “We had to sell our beautiful spacious home...with chronic illness there is usually a financial burden. I had a beautiful serene room there where I could go and just find quiet and peace when my body was in fight flight and I couldn’t handle the noise and activity of my busy family. I had large windows so when I did not feel well enough to go outside I could see mountains and beauty around me. With two of three kids gone we now live in a small 2 bed apartment and I feel like my nerves are inside out when I am flared up. I live in a dark basement, no windows, traffic and noise, smell peoples driers and fireplaces. There is nowhere to go to find tranquillity and things are cluttered. Home is better than the world because you can at least control that space. Keep out people with perfumes, and scent and such. I don’t have new construction in my space now but possibly mold in bathroom. My large home was a newer home had new flooring, wood stain that bothered me, we could not use our wood stove for heat because the smoke made me so sick. Finishing the basement there may have been a big trigger for my mast cell symptoms. Pros and cons to every space. Home can be a mast cell nightmare or our best safe haven.” “The home is a HUGE factor for all Mast Cell patients. And I can safely say that while most of Mast Cell patients require a safe place to live, most DONT have a safe home. We are a perfect example. Due to financial constraints we rent. We have no control over most factors the biggest one being mold in the home. And flooring ie..carpet. We do the best we can but when one knows there is mold in the place you rent and you can’t afford to move...it is what it is. We are blessed in that we have central air which my daughter desperately needs. We look for the blessings but it’s far from perfect.” “My home is what made me ill. It was full of mold. I feel unsafe around buildings. Mold was my trigger and I’m talking the toxic kind. It makes me sad as I lost everything” “I know what it feels like to be suddenly disabled and unable to return to my home due to necessary adaptions. I have had to find somewhere to live in the meantime whilst I wait to see if I pass the means test and planning permission goes through. It’s very unsettling not knowing what will happen not to mention expensive trying to find money for extra accommodation on top of what we already have to pay for our home.” “My home is MY HOME. No one else’s. I have my cats, my dog, friends & neighbours all around me. I had been in that house over 20yrs. It was for closed on 3yrs ago because I was hospitalized & couldn’t make the payment of $568. So Wells Fargo increased my payment to $910. I proved where I was & why I was there. I lost it any way. When you’re someplace long enough to make it yours it becomes your sanctuary, your safe haven. It took a lot to get me moved & I couldn’t take all I wanted to take w/me. Everything around you is yours. It’s familiar to you. It may be small but it was home & I raised my daughter there. I buried my animals on the grounds so they would be comfy & remember Appendix A 89
the sounds & that I would be there to plant flowers for them when they were buried. It wasn’t a perfect home but it was mine. It still carries our dreams/memories within those walls. Now I live w/ my daughter & son in law. I can’t ask certain questions when he is doing something. I take my life in my own hands just going downstairs to do laundry. The stairs are steep & no hand rail. I pretty much stay in my room because I don’t want to go into other parts of the house because they are watching TV program I don’t like or its anime. I don’t like their dogs because they are not trained & my son in law thinks I it’s funny the physically attacks one of their dogs if they bark or bite too much. In my house I had to leave because I didn’t approve. Now what they say goes. Not my house. Not my furnishings. I have to share a car. I hate the part of town we live in now. I don’t want to get to know my neighbours. They are either older or younger & pretty much keep to themselves. I was comfortable with my former surroundings. We had churches, of many denominations. There were stores & restaurants & coffee houses, close to grocery stores. We had a Perry Street Fair every year. Small mom & pop shops. Gas station. Minutes from schools, parks, $500,000 & up neighbourhoods within a few blocks. The hospital, doctors’ clinics, the freeway just blocks away.” “My home is full of boxes, I just moved. It’s not accessible which can be problematic, but it is 1924 without newer construction things like wall board and such that I react to. I struggle with the day to day things as fatigue can knock me off my feet unexpectedly between the making of a mess and the cleaning of it. I often find myself prioritizing which overdue cleaning to do next when it is all too much for the moment. It means that my environment isn’t as healthy as it should be with occasional tripping hazards and an overfull sink of washing up to do. A dish-washer doesn’t even seem to help.” “I think my house is a safe place, especially dark closet not much airflow, it’s a good place if A neighbour has a fire and smoke comes in our house. Otherwise the ocean and my pool, mostly ocean handles my symptoms. It’s the cool salt water!” “home is where your heart is. Most people would rather die in their homes than in the hospital, because that is what they know and it’s all about comfort. It’s all also about having control of whatever you can at that point in your life.” “Before I had my home adapted I was confined to my bedroom upstairs & felt imprisoned. I could hear life going on without me downstairs & outside but couldn’t be a part of it.” “Since having the garage converted into a bedroom & wetroom for me it’s greatly improved my quality of life. I feel part of the family again & have been able to regain some of my independence. Now the future feels bright rather than bleak.” “I’ve Mastocytosis but my son has a chronic illness and disability. He’s a wheelchair user and is catheterised - we’re having to adapt our home to ensure his continued independence as far as we can. As we both work and DLA isn’t a ‘recognised benefit’ we’re having to fund this ourselves.” “In some ways my home is my comfort where I feel safe and secure, in other ways it’s my prison as I am unable to get out of the house on my own. I spend 6 days a week indoors.” “Sold our marital home and that was sad but I know there was mold causing my mast cells to go haywire. My new rental townhouse is my home now for myself and 4 kids. For me it represents peace and new beginnings. I had a lot of anxiety moving into a new place where I didn’t know what the environmental factors and sounds would be such as loud neighbours or traffic. And concerned that I wouldn’t know what to do if our home didn’t work out for me and this disease. Knowing I can react to many environmental triggers, it took me a few months to get acclimated to the place. There are some things I’d do differently but as a renter I’m not allowed. Knowing some days I may lie on the couch all day, it was important to have a comfortable casual living room. And my bedroom space is cosy. I’m so happy to have my cosy place to return home to with my kids.” Appendix A 90
APPENDIX B PRIVATE SUBMISSION - PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF COUNCIL ASSESSMENT TO PROVIDE ACCESSIBLE HOUSING *Address and Name Redacted for Anonymity* “I was assessed by Hinckley & Bosworth occupational therapists (which took some 13months to get an appointment). It was proposed that due to my on-going medical & mobility issues that ground level sleeping and bathroom facilities were the only safe solution. The design work would be undertaken by a council appointed contractor who did not employ any trained architects. The solution proposed by this contractor was for a single-story extension to the rear of my traditional 1930’s 3 bed semi and that this would become my bedroom and bathroom. Which in theory sounded good, however it meant that no one else in the household could access the rear garden / side of the property without having to go through my bedroom. I would have to access this extension by entering from the side of the property due to the existing layout / floor levels of the front entrance. Suffice it to say that the proposed design was abysmal, it effectively blocked all the rear light to the existing lounge and kitchen, it would have devalued the property value, it prevented my family from accessing the rear garden, it was designed in a way that I could not access the kitchen safely, and effectively would have excluded me from everyday family life and created a miserable, dark and dingy environment for everyone in the house hold, and looked rubbish. An alternative design by ourselves was presented to the Council which resolved all of the issues concerned by a simple layout change of the ground floor whereby the kitchen became the bathroom (as this was located under the existing upstairs bathroom it would easily feed into the existing soil and water pipes), the bedroom would be located in the old front lounge and the new extension would house the kitchen and a new lounge area. It was a solution that resolved all access issues, was a nonintrusive solution for my family, did not devalue the property – in short it would feel like a home and not a depressing, badly thought through institutional style add on. And it even cost less than their solution as we would fund the kitchen move. But apparently the rules state that any modifications done must be purely for the use of the grant recipient, must not ‘benefit’ any other family member and was instantly rejected by H&BCC. After all this they then said that none of this could happen unless I could easily access the property from the road. As the house has a 13metre front garden with quite a slope, they suddenly concluded (after having visited the property on at least 5 occasions and were fully aware of the site issues) that creating a ramped access would utilise 90% of the available grant budget. In short, those parties involved and their breath-taking ineptitude were reported to their masters to be met with silence from then on from all concerned leaving me to fund all the required modifications. It would appear that they are more concerned about ticking boxes and being seen to talk the talk rather than be of any practical help.” Appendix B 91
APPENDIX C TECHNOLOGY SURVEY - FACEBOOK Question: I’m writing my Architecture Masters thesis on Disability in the home. It would really help me if you were able to write a few lines on how Technology has helped you navigate your house, or how gadgets and devices have improved your ability/quality of life/made daily tasks easier. Anything from equipment like a ramp, lift or hoist, to voice activated devices, motion sensors, building automation, video doorbells, robot vacuums, tablet/phone apps, lights/heating turned on remotely, activity trackers, VR (Virtual Reality) headsets etc. How would any of the above tech help you? Would you have more in your home if they were more affordable? Would you video call/Skype your Doctor from home to save waiting months? Are you concerned about trading your privacy for support? What would you think to home sensors that noticed if you were ill or depressed, and responded by brightening the room, opening the curtains, suggesting some peaceful music, made a cup of tea or notified your loved ones/health workers? Hope that’s ok, but if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanking you all in advance. Amy Francis-Smith Responses: “Having a device that would alert family ICE contacts or emergency services would be extremely helpful and ease a lot of anxiety, a problem which tends to exasperate already disabled people.” “Both me and my mum have EDS and POTS too among many other diagnosis’ she’s a full time electric wheelchair user and tech has improved her life dramatically, not only can she use her chair to get out the house and gain back independence but we also have had our kitchen adapted so she can use the stove safely from her chair, remote control windows and an inflatable bath lift which have all been a huge help! If we had the money we would have everything possible that was disabled user friendly, unfortunately many disabled people in need of this equipment are too unwell to work to save up for it which seems to be the catch 22 In regard to tech that responds to your symptoms I think the extra light would be helpful but as for alerting loved ones and doctors I know my mum would hate it haha, she likes to be as independent as possible and decide herself when she wants the help which is totally understandable” “We re-mortgaged and had a lift installed last month and I’m back in love with our home; I’m able to get everywhere again and we are able to be a family everywhere again. This experience has helped me realise the importance of access, but also of open plan living (with privacy in bedrooms) for us as a family. That’s how we live and all the accessible bungalows we saw wouldn’t have allowed that.” Appendix C 92
“I would love a stair lift but can’t afford one!” “The NDIS is funding 3 stair lifts, grab rails and other home modifications to make it wheelchair accessible. I can’t wait to be back home.” “When the time comes to stop using stairs we are going to put in a chairlift or an elevator. We have used the Amazon Alexa as an intercom system. If she needed help during the night with rescue meds.” “I can still work so I have a disability but am out and about, kinda. What helps me most is at home shopping, Amazon and Grubhub. I don’t have the energy for stores nor can I handle fragrances. To me it is about learning to adapt to a vulnerability, being proactive and positive to keep from sinking into mourning the capabilities you have lost. For instance, I recently blacked out in the kitchen while making dinner because standing by a hot stove drops my blood pressure. But I still want to make dinner for my husband and I if I am feeling ok! So I bought a Ninja Foodi because they advertised less heat put out. And ya know what? They were right! Now I have new cookbooks and a new gadget and am making some great meals and feel good about a simple accomplishment like making dinner. That is what these new gadgets and apps mean to me, they give me the opportunity to adapt and be engaged in life rather than mourn all that I have lost.” “What has helped me indirectly is a cell phone so my kids can check on me any time. They also can see where I am when I go grocery shopping & they think I’ve been gone too long. What has helped me indirectly is a cell phone so my kids can check on me any time. They also can see where I am when I go grocery shopping & they think I’ve been gone too long. I’m getting a main floor washer & dryer, so I don’t risk my life going up & down these archaic steps have no railing & very steep to the point of me having to crawl up the stairs like a ladder. Try doing it w/a full basket of laundry. Not safe for me because my balance & dizzy spells make me trip or just plain fall.” “For me in my home key accessible gadgets are pretty low tech – ramps to get in the front door – simple but so essential for me as a wheelchair user. I have redone my bathroom so now the floor is fully “tanked” so fully waterproof all the way across – for ease of cleaning, lack of worry about water spillage, and allows for future proofing – I have a bath in the room at present (my son loves them), but if I deteriorate further and need carers and/or hoists etc then the bath can be removed to give me more space. Another key but simple adaptation is having a seat in the shower. I used to use so much energy standing up in the shower of a morning – it would really set my day up badly. Being able to sit and relax under a hot shower is such a luxury but also so essential. Finally in my bedroom the bed is raised and I have grab rails which really helps with getting in and out of bed and turning in bed – again simple but hugely effective. I do use email and skype a huge amount for work – and this is helpful, but I wouldn’t want to do most of my medical appointments by skype – I know only too well how easy skype is to fail and I would also have concerns about security/confidentiality. However, I do use online shopping extensively – particularly for grocery shopping – and for me this is an essential energy saver.” “Currently building a new home. We have added wider doors, less corners to navigate for emergency personnel, everything we can control by our smart phones (lights, door locks, even cooking apparatus), doorbell connected to light, changing some countertop heights, water purification (I react to the water here but having it filtered before I use it helps), I use a walker with a seat to carry stuff, I use Free Libre (and send in my glucose info to my doctor), my CPap can be checked by my doctor remotely, some testing can be done from home, pulled down cupboards, locked box (safe) for medicine, tubs with easy access (not the one with the door), I use a grabber to get my clothes out of the washer ( I can’t reach it otherwise), I asked for a Roomba hoover(not sure if I’ll get one), I have my dogs for security and/or comfort and I have my cats for comfort), I missed my last pain
management appointment and thought of calling them today to see if we could FaceTime/video chat appointment, and I have someone who I pay to help me 3-5 times a week.” “The Future is accessible technology, we are all aging and will be less able at some point so design universally.” “My husband is a software engineer and a fabulous nerd so when I became disabled his way of dealing with it was to make the those as automated as possible. We have voice controlled lights all over the house with variable light levels and motion detecting lights in the kitchen. The doorbell is connected to my phone so I can speak to whoever is there, though that is sometimes a bit hit and miss. The TV works by voice control which is great because I can’t see the menus. It’s all based on the Amazon echo system through which I listen to my music, my Audiobooks, the news and weather, set timers etc. I’m visually impaired as well as a wheelchair user so I use my phone audio to do my reading and most of my writing. We have installed a through floor lift which has finally given me access to upstairs and I’m back in my own bed. I make all my GP appointments online and order my repeat medication that way; I tend to have phone calls with my GP and then get a face to face if they need that - it works well for me and I wish hospital consultants would do the same. Technology is an absolute life saver for me and I’m not sure if I’d have much quality of life as a visually impaired wheelchair user without it. I can go out in my powerchair using my phone and headset as a navigator, it’s amazing. As for tech to identify mood - I think it’s a great idea although that would need to be highly personalised to work well because everyone has different ways of showing low mood and responds to different activities.” “Many of us develop Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity, and even if we don’t, wireless technology is subjecting us to a lot of microwave radiation that can cause other health issues, so we should really use wired devices as much as is possible (and do what we can to make that possible) and use wireless only in emergencies. That means no Wi-Fi or wireless phones at home! Or minimally have it turned all off at night. “One of the biggest thing that helps with my mood is lighting. I use a SAD light box which is great but I always thought it would be great to have something that opens the curtains automatically when the sun comes up to fill the room with natural light.” “Even though I’m seriously ill and predominantly bedridden I’m without care and I’m alone the majority of the time. I have to lay flat in a dark quiet room, that’s been almost 2 decades. I can’t use Skype or conduct phone conversations. I can text or WhatsApp with a few people and have to email medical professionals. My little phone is the only real connection with people or the world but I can’t use it much as I can’t use my arms or body to do so as I have to try to save using them for eating or toileting which I can’t always do those. Yet it’s texts or WhatsApp on my phone that means I have relationships, especially with my 2 beautiful siblings who I’d otherwise not know much about. The lighting and heating thing would definitely help.” “As a teenager my iPad and profiling bed are vital to my quality of life because it allows me to do normal teenage stuff and the things I love like creating music whilst being comfy and able to contact my parents.” “My mechanical Wheelchair takes 3-6 months to get and it took over one year to get the correct assessment. Once this technology is brought into my house I will be able to use my home more and I will be able to get around my block and walk my dogs. I also have a Tempur-pedic mattress that moves like a hospital bed. Has saved me on many occasions. Sonic toothbrush helps brush teeth Appendix C 94
better than manual. I’m always using Waze and my alarm in my phone so I don’t forget where I’m going or what I have to do. Amazon and other shopping sites have been able to ship all my needs to my home. I couldn’t live without the new technology in cars for cruise control. Amazing just amazing!!!!! I now need to look for a new vehicle that will allow me to bring my mechanical wheelchair. 400 lbs. should be interesting.” “Many new items that are made of plastic, circuit boards, etc, cause me trouble due to outgassing fumes, but i do use some tech. I need to lie down a lot, and feel anxious that I’m not getting anything done when the list is so long and the bills aren’t paid. A smartphone made a big difference for me. I can check my work email, look up the latest health research or video, or order my supplements, all while lying down! I can also keep in touch with friends and relatives who I rarely see. I was recently considering online psychotherapist consultations, but I don’t think i would want to access other healthcare online. The other aspect, more related to your project perhaps, is my overall experience with my home. I was able to get out of apartment living a few years ago, and being in a house where I have more control over the air quality is of utmost importance to me. My house is my refuge! Issues that still come up are: musty cellar air, and a tendency to harbour mildew in certain areas. A dehumidifier is the single most important technology for my house. The ability to have my own clothes washing machine not shared with others who use fragranced products is essential. An air filter is also important for when I can’t avoid letting a fragranced person in (furnace technician, etc). I also experience negative effects when my propane range/oven is running, and I would like to replace it with an electric model. The technology I use to reduce this air quality problem is doors, hahaha! It really is important to not have forced air heating. That would move bad cellar air all over the house. I have hot water baseboard radiators.” “Ramps are great got them everywhere, dad bought a light for upstairs got hand rail in whole house” “My bias for low-tech may be influenced by my experience of installing electric doors/lifts etc in the university – and then knowing the challenge my estates dept have in keeping them maintained and running. A power door is brilliant but once broken is usually doubly heavy. As you well know disability doesn’t take a day off so equipment that always works is pretty much essential.” “I don’t use all that much tech, but your point about home sensors has given me food for thought. In addition to a muscle condition, I experience migraines and as I get older and wiser I’m learning to nip them in the bud by turning off bright lights, cutting out excess noise, etc. It can be the difference between a few days on a go slow or a few days hugging a sofa trying to make my body accept food. The difficulty is spotting the early stages and remembering the protocol with a foggy brain. I remember once remarking to a PA: “Why’s it taken me so long to figure out I’m getting a migraine?” and my PA saying “Because you’ve got a migraine?!” If there was tech that could spot the warning signs and automatically alert me and change the lighting accordingly, that would be amazing!” “Electric front door openers are a miracle.” “I am looking for somewhere to live at the moment as my lease on my current house ends at the end of March. Technology is not on my radar (excuse the pun). To be able to move I need: Wheelchair access in the front door. The step needs to be shallow enough, on a wide enough path to take a ramp, so I view places with a tape measure and if that’s not right there is no point looking inside. I need all one level. Ideally a bungalow, but if it was a flat where I went up a lift to get to my front door I wouldn’t be happy but would cope. Inside I need no steps. I just stayed with a friend in a 2 Appendix C 95
story house with a stair lift and it confirmed for me I couldn’t live like that. When I need to go to the loo I need to go to the loo, and than darn stair lift almost broke me. I need outdoor access for my assistance dog with a toileting area, ideally an enclosed garden, but at a minimum somewhere he can do a poo and I can leave it temporarily and pick it up later if I’m not able at the time without world war 3 with neighbours over it. If I can find that it will be a miracle, all else is something of a luxury, but if by some miracle I could meet all that and still have other criteria to choose from, I would look for somewhere with a proper kitchen, not a cooker and sink stuck in the corner of the living room calling itself ‘open plan’. When I’m not well I need to be able to shut the door on the room where I cope least, where a dinner fell coming out of the microwave 2 days ago and I have been unable to clean it up and must wait for the cleaner visit in another day or two. I would dream of a kitchen that’s big enough for me, my wheelchair, lots of units within reach, and a kitchen table. Bathroom with a shower I can put a shower stool in is by far the best. If I have to struggle with a bath lift I can survive, although it does mean often going days without washing as it’s harder. My dream place would be a nice bungalow with a good sized garden, facing east/west, with my bedroom facing east so I get morning sun with I have some chance of waking and functioning, but dull in the afternoons and evenings when I need to rest. The garden, especially the front if there is one not to have a lawn, as getting people to mow weekly when you can’t do it yourself is traumatic, but not miserable concrete. Some shrubs and greenery, with pebbles or bark. Inside enough space with wide enough door ways so that a wheelchair can move confidently, and the spare wheelchair in the corner isn’t going to be overpowering and crowding. Most of all I would dream of a long lease. I’ve not been lucky, renting the most wheelchair friendly places available often means renting places already partially converted for an elderly person, and the kids rent it out while they are in a nursing home. Then they die, and the kids want to sell, and you are moving again... I’ve lived 2 years in this place, 2 years in last places, 4 in place before that. In those three places I’ve had to strip out and replace 2 fitted kitchens so I could use them, and totally replace 1 front door in order to build a wheelchair ramp as the frame was rotted. If I had all that money I’d have the deposit to buy a place, but you end up pouring it into rental places just to be able to get in the door, and it’s a vicious circle. If I found that and moved in, my autistic traits would start to dictate what happens next. I’m very easily overwhelmed and distressed my noisy or clashing colours and textures, and blipping noises can make me really physically unwell. Day one striping our smoke alarms is a priority so that I don’t end up unable to enter my house due to an unmuteable ‘low battery’ beep. Covering stripes on floors and organising painting walls if the colours are very wrong. Finding a way to sound proof the electricity and gas meters so I can sleep. Forgot to mention a priority I’d heating, as I don’t maintain body heat and am always at risk of hypothermia. What I would look for therefore would focus on these kinds of things. The frills could come later. Having a front door I can get inside with my dog is where it starts. After that it’s a sense of permanency, an ability to plant a tree in a garden and watch it grow, to know I’m safe planning as I’ll still be in the same place in five years. Everything else is just window dressing. Looking at things a different way - if I won the euromillions and could build my own little complex prioritising the needs of disabled people. All the flats would be positioned so none faced north. Layouts would be flexible so people could chose which room was bedroom, which living room to maximise their needs. Communal tended garden Appendix C 96
space in front, with some capacity for some residents to have private garden space, but some shared garden space for everyone including those that couldn’t tend one themselves. Toileting area for dogs (assistance dogs and pets) enclosed with fencing and automatic flushing mechanism which would wash waist into a composting system for use in garden. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors could be managed without climbing ladders, and they could also be programmed to detect allergens such as perfumes. Proper wet rooms to replace bathrooms in all flats, but some to also have well designed bath tub for those that benefit. Flexible kitchens with units that can be swapped over easily, and therefore compartmented. Lots of counter top to allow easy access to labour saving gadgets such as choppers, etc. Rubbish shoots from kitchen to outside clearly colour coded for recycling and other rubbish to avoid struggling with bins. Personally, I would hate anything that happened automatically, that would greatly upset me, and I would not cope and grow rapidly frustrated with multiple devices but if I was designing a dream easy living set up could do most things through my phone. That would include a (very discreet, silent) text if I have left my door unlocked, and an ability to unlock my door from my phone if, yet again, I’ve lost my keys. A system to tell me if I’ve eaten, fed the dog and taken my meds would help but it would need to be silent and discreet. A small light that resets each night at midnight on cupboard doors and shows you if you have opened it that day or not would work for me.”
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APPENDIX D PUBLIC OPINION ON CASE STUDIES
Question: If anyone has the time/inclination to see which buildings I’m writing about the links are below. I have chosen 3 architecturally designed wheelchair houses for a fair critical comparison. (I know that means they’re not always accessible for everyone) I’d be interested to hear what your opinions are on them. Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Maison a Bordeaux https://www.archdaily.com/.../ad-classics-maison-bordeaux... Frank Lloyd Wright - Laurent House https://www.laurenthouse.com/gallery Ramp House - Chambers McMillan https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/.../8643947.article http://www.cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/ Responses: “Wow who do they hope to sell or rent these houses to. They look very expensive. We need something affordable.” “As a wheel chair user, I prefer the Frank Lloyd Wright house, it has more visual and emotional appeal, it’s more inviting. I just need the money to build it.” Ramp House “Like the house for Greta over the others.” Maison a Bordeaux “Too steep stairs. Heavy doors and windows. Low deep cabinets.” Maison a Bordeaux “This is my dream!!!” Maison a Bordeaux “Wow what an interesting home concept!” Maison a Bordeaux “Absolutely stunning! Adding this to my bucket list!”
“The Frank Lloyd Wright one looks the easiest access and comfort. But then again, I love his buildings... the other two while gorgeous and interesting would be more exhaustive to travel between spaces. Just having the stair lift for me to use for getting upstairs to our bedroom/bathroom wasn’t enough - because, I would leave my phone charger upstairs or be so exhausted that I just got dressed and took the kid to school, but then still have to go back upstairs for a shower and change of clothes when I got back from dropping her off. Taking things upstairs, be it laundry, bathroom or housekeeping supplies was a nightmare. I needed a pulley system to just do that. Instead I would have to try to balance stuff on my lap and get safely on/off of the chair lift. We ended up moving us back to the main level and the kid is in our big beautiful haven of a space upstairs instead.”
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“Having looked at the 3 houses there are elements of each one that I like. The Bordeaux I like the innovation of the lift floor but I personally would not like it in my home especially in the middle of the room. I do not like the outer appearance of the house, it may have been better to have been a tinted glass round the outside instead of the industrial look it has at the moment. I would have installed electric blinds of some form for privacy when needed. The Frank Lloyd House I think is more conventional but it lacks oomph, the front outside looks a bit boring and the inside is samey, but that said overall it is my preferred house as I like the curvature of the design with the windows that enable the outside to appear part of the house. If this was to be commissioned today then I would like to see it with a second floor with a lift, keeping the curved shape but with a large veranda with a glass boundary to make the most of the views, light and space. I would also look to update the inside of it. I think the current design is great considering the date it was built. The Ramp House I like the way it is more modern inside but I am not so keen on the outside. I think the ramp idea is good but perhaps a bit limited for disabled people, only because many disabled people have degenerative conditions which could limit their ability to manage the control required to use the ramp. I like the spacious interior and I’m sure it would be a cool house to live in as a child but as adults get older especially the able bodied people they may struggle with the ramp. So overall I like the Frank Lloyd House best. I would have been interested to know what products were used in the builds of all the houses for sustainability.”
Blind UK Wheelchair User and Former Civil Engineer Maison Bordeaux “Exciting / Innovative / Stylish yet functional / Not obviously for disability - positive! / Beautifully connected to the surroundings / Repeatedly flexible on each level / Never ending views open the mind and reduce frustration of being restricted” Laurent House “Natural / Warm / It feels static which might make it difficult to evolve with time / Seems old fashioned apart from the curved corridor / Fabulous entrance from the outside / I get the feeling that it’s designed for a disabled person rather than by someone who lives with disability - e.g. no obvious access to the garden and chairs with I wouldn’t be able to transfer into” Ramp House “Form over function? / Ramps may be fun for children but can be difficult for people on crutches or with balance issues etc / A lot of space is taken up by ramps - waste? / I love the external façade view / It doesn’t seem friendly or homely to me at all”
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APPENDIX E RAMP HOUSE INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
McMillan, T., McMillan, I., McMillan, G. and McMillan, B. 2018. Ramp House Interview. Interviewed by Amy Francis-Smith [in person] Ramp House, Portobello, Edinburgh, 23rd August 2018. Edited transcript quotes from audio recording 4pm – 6pm 23rd August 2018 The interview was conducted at the McMillan’s home in Portobello, a small community driven seaside suburb on the outskirts of Edinburgh; with Ian and Thea, the architects of the house and parents of Greta, their disabled daughter, who were all present for the interview. Bee, their elder daughter momentarily became involved in the conversation and later in the interview, when Ian and Greta left the house to attend her drama class, I concluded my talk with Thea. I was invited to walk around the house and to explore the design for myself, and then we all sat together in the living room. Thea later showed me their newly extended office and the small courtyard garden containing Greta’s hydrotherapy pool. I had planned numerous questions and themes to ask the family prior to arriving; many of these came up naturally in our conversation and some I asked specifically to guide the flow. The whole conversation was recorded, with permission, on a Dictaphone, of which I have then transposed the transcript and edited the order to fit around my original questions.
What were your core design principles for the house? “It was this necessity of making it inclusive and making it work for Greta as well as the whole family that was kind of the driver and the ramp and everything else was kind of easy after that.” “It was based around Greta not liking being upstairs on her own, so we made sure there were lots of connections, as Greta was not able to follow us about.” “We’ve got a lot of connections between rooms, Bee who’s 17 can go off to her room on her own and that privacies really nice for her. As kids get older and become young adults it’s actually important for everyone’s that you’ve got a bit of space.” What was the decision for including a ramp? “Using a ramp to access all levels provides an equality of space to us all. We have designed spaces along the ramp so that the experience of the house changes as it unfolds.” “The difference that the ramp makes is in how the spaces are experienced; this is both linear and sectional, and the opportunities to look back or forward into other spaces.” Does the gradient meet with building regulations? Appendix E 100
“The ramps all totally non-compliant! It’s 1:8, 28m long and you have to go up 2.8m, the circulation takes up 30% of the floor area.” “We looked at a lot of European stuff and scaled the drawings from some books and worked out the calculation of the ramps!” “I think the [regulation] gradient comes from ambulant disabled walking sticks. They’re the ones that struggle the most and would rather take the stairs. It’s always going to be a difficulty to cater to everyone.” “It’s steep but our reasoning for the Warrant Officer was that if you think about a lot of the roads in the street in the old town in Edinburgh they’re really steep. Not that I’m advocating that towns should not be accessibly designed!” Would you have put the stairs in if you didn’t have to? IAN – “I think we would have, we discussed whether we would put them in or not. I guess it’s a shortcut in the house that ends the ramp, it’s a Koolhaas thing as well having a circuit rather than a dead end to the space. It works conceptually better that way but if you forget your keys on anything in the morning 20m running up and down it’s easier.” THEA – “I wouldn’t have! I always do the ramp I think it’s a bit nicer.” “The stairs had to comply for the Warrant Officer, though we’d put them in before then.” Why did you not just install a lift? “It was inclusion that’s where it came from. We looked at them, but we didn’t really like the concept of Greta using the lift and us taking the stairs.” “It was actually two things. It’s not equal because we wouldn’t use the lift unless we were going with her, we would be using whatever way. I was doing some research on how children use and experience space differently and one of the things I was looking at is the fact that when you actually move around through space there’s all sorts of neural pathways that develop understanding with connections.” “And we thought that actually when Greta goes for example to school or hospital or most public buildings you’re in a lift, you’re up to whatever floor and you don’t have any concept of where.” “Being architects, we think about how we move through space, how things connect but when you’re in a lift you’re away from that.” “The only ones that work quite well, like the Rem Koolhaas house or sometimes in Northern European museums you’ll get the hydraulic platforms. They’re quite nice, they’re quite open, but it’s still a separate bit that you go into and that just annoys us.” What was the thought process behind the open plan living? “Open plan came from Greta having seizures so that you can hear where she is, so if we were in a house with lots of standard rooms with the door shut, we were aware of that.” “You’re balancing that open plan with privacy as well, it can’t be a big barn as well it doesn’t feel homely when it’s a big single plan open space so you break it down and you’ve still got that connectivity between the spaces that works for everyone.” Appendix E 101
How did the site influence your design? “The site is so tight, all the issues are generated from the site and you’re fitting quite an elaborate thing in which is quite quirky making a lot of moves that you probably wouldn’t normally do. It’s very site responsive, it would be great to have a bit more turning at the corners, just to make it slightly easier but you have to work with hat you’ve got.” “It’s such a small site 240m2. It would be great to have even 100mm but there just wasn’t! But then it would be something else if there was more space because we’d make it bigger and wider and this really isn’t a lot of space, so it is what it is.” Did you involve the girls in the design process? “They were quite young when we were designing, and we designed with them, they were really involved we had lots of models.” “The girls designed quite a lot in the house because we involved them quite a bit. They didn’t like not knowing where we were, so that we were never too far away. They were keen to cut bits away, so there was a visual connection. The corner into the kitchen is cut away to let sunlight onto the kitchen table.” “But that was a few years ago now so it’s changed! There was a whole load of learning and social development with having connections.” To what extent were the girls designing or was the modelling process more to educate and inform them visually? “That’s a good question. Certain things like getting the ramp to work first, the bits that would have been quite difficult to do, we did initially. Once we’d got the ramp to work we thought ‘what do we want to do with these spaces off the ramp?’, at which point we then had a family meeting and discussed it. We did lots with models, there were bits in the process where they weren’t involved and others where they were. It was definitely a stage more than ‘this is our design what do you think’.” “It’s a lovely thing to actually test out how much you can involve the end users in the design process. It is a place which belongs to the children as much as it does to us.” What was your inspiration for the ramp house? “We looked at a lot of European buildings. “I really liked the Koolhaas Bordeaux house that’s been one I’ve always liked in lots of ways because it’s such a big grand Dutch/French gesture.” “Koolhaas ramps he does in Holland through the Kunsthal are 1:8 and 1:10 so we could see that kind of seemed to be a European standard. Le Corbusier stuff is 1:6 Ville de Savoye is really steep, barely an accessible house. Maison La Roche-Jeanneret with the big bow curved ramp is about 1:4! You need a handle to pull yourself up that!” “We’re not fussy about finishes and details. We see quite a lot of Koolhaas buildings and they’re robust. It’s not a ‘Chipperfieldy’ minimalist sort of thing, we can’t manage that!”
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Does the ramp feel like a specialist piece of equipment? Do you use it yourself? “Yes, I always use the ramp, it’s really funny it doesn’t feel like a specialist house but maybe just cuz it’s family, so we don’t think of Greta having specialist needs. She does but it doesn’t really occur to us.” Have you got many technologies or mobility aids? “The ramps the big aid.” “We’ve got a hoist as well, we wanted the track to go all the way across because it looks better rather than stop half way.” “Beatrice was doing aerial gymnastics, so she was completely unphased by the height, she’d get into the sling and hoist herself up and she’d go right to the top.” “The Eye Gaze tablet made a big difference. Greta’s favourite thing at the moment is Alexa, her communicator seems to understand her really well!” Have they made everyday tasks easier? “Everything takes a lot longer when you’re doing all the moving and handling, you’re doing a lot of manual work. When you’ve got more barriers, it’s going to take you longer to do, so in the house you’ve got a bit more time to do other stuff. You can do more one-to-one time, more normal things that you’ve got access to in the house.” To what extent is Greta able to use the kitchen? “We did quite a lot around the kitchen and some of it we didn’t implement in the end, but we still could so we’re going to have an induction hob so you can see the island cantilevered so Greta can slot under and that’s really good. In the past she’s had baking parties where all the kids go round the island and she’s in there, so it’s actually a really nice inclusive space.” “The fridge is a drawer, there is a switch which is meant to use a food processor but sometimes its time!” How have other disabled people reacted to the space? “The first Doors Open Day we had, there was all this fuss about the gradient and I was really worried, so we got a whole load of helpers to come, so that If anyone struggled they were ok!” “All sorts of wheelchair users have come, long recline ones with the joystick, wee racy ones, just everyone really, the best ones are the little kids with the little whizzy Snapdragon chairs and they just love it because they don’t get to go upstairs normally. And then all of a sudden them come dashing down the ramp!” “We rent it out on Air BNB and most people really love it. The occasional person says that bathrooms not very good for my 95yr old mum and I’m thinking ‘no it wouldn’t be!’” Does anyone ever have issues with the large drop from the ramp to the kitchen as it turns the corner? “It’s never a problem for us but quite often older people just think it’s a step, my parents are the worst and they have been here so much and they just refuse to go all the way round the ramp! We put a step in for them, as they would just stumble off the ledge. When we do Doors Open I always get worried so we put chairs here so people realise they’re meant to go round.”
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Is the house tailored too specifically for your family’s needs? “When people come here they understand that we designed it specifically for us as a family, but this only caters for us effectively, it’s a different kind of design problem.” “Our reasoning with this was that if we thought it would work for us as a family, which it does, then on Doors Open Day everyone seems to be able to use it. I was really worried they wouldn’t.” “I think other disabled people could live here.” Were there any elements you’d designed but hadn’t implemented? “The bottom of the ramp was designed with a really lovely bench that was meant to be at the end as a worksurface for me and Greta to sit on at the end of the table and then a high up bit for Bee who want to sit up and drink her miniccinos there on these high stools we had! However, anything that was extra in the house needed to be built by us and it’s just never happened.” Is there anything you’d like to change or do differently in hindsight? “I think we got most of the moves right, I don’t think there’s anything fundamental we’d change.” “I would change just a small detail which is the threshold because although they’re meant to be accessible ones they’re just rubbish. When you’re living in it and every time you come in through that door it’s a pain.” “We’re still doing things like that seating out the back of the garden we did fairly recently and all the landscaping round the hot tub. And there’s a small space up in the attic that we’re still developing. And we change the colours, there’s still enough that we’re progressing on. We converted the office that was a car port.” “We got charity funding for a therapy pool, but Bee also enjoys it as a hot tub. Most people talk about siblings who are disadvantaged and everything, but I’ve asked Bee and she’s said ‘Yeh well you know I’ve got a hot tub and I’ve got a cool house’ she really loves it.” “We were meant to put the piano there, half way up the ramp, but the OT was warning us.” Would you have just done a bungalow if you had more land? “That’s a tricky question, we’ve done other accessible things with big plots and they’ve always been flat. It’s always necessity that drives you to different designs solutions.” “I hope not because I love it like this, I hope we wouldn’t have gone oh there’s more space.” What was the house you lived in before here like? Would it have been possible to keep living there? “It was a normal house. I don’t think it was possible which was the whole point of us thinking about it [ramp house].” “All the living was downstairs, it was quite small, effectively 2 up 2 down, 2 ½ bedrooms which were quite small spaces and the bathroom was long and narrow. Downstairs it was a kitchen/dining room and the living room which we’d just knocked them together to make it feel bigger.”
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“So there was no space to put our bedroom downstairs, it was just so small. And small houses can work but you do need a lot more space when you’re moving wheelchairs about, especially on the ground floor. And also, it was near the end of a corner terrace, so that meant that everything was skewed and all the gardens skewed. We couldn’t extend out as our garden was 20ft away in a square the back was a path to go into the garden, so there was no way you could do anything.” In what way did the house start to affect how you lived your life with a disabled child? “In the last year, Greta and Ian couldn’t get around at all, because I couldn’t carry her anymore, so we couldn’t go up or downstairs, so Ian would bring her down in the morning and then we’d be down for the rest of the day. And even getting out of the house was quite an effort. We’d have to wait until Dad had come back home from work to carry Greta up to bed and that was it. It was a nice house downstairs, but that was quite tricky.” Could the family have continued to live there if Greta was able-bodied? “Probably not as it was quite small and compact” “Bee was 11/12 so we knew it was coming [the need to move]” “Although it was good initially, we could see it didn’t have a lot of life span realistically and we would’ve had to have moved.” How was the planning process for building on such a tight site? “Portobello had a bit of a history for having a community council that objected to everything including really small planning applications. Unfortunately, when we were doing this the local mews area, various neighbouring plots had been rejected and fought with the planners to develop.” “Half the community council couldn’t believe people were objecting, a lot of people knew Greta by then around Portobello and clearly we had very little options. We knew how much of a difference it would make, if we couldn’t build, we would have been way out and not been in Portobello anymore. Because most of the house are old, you couldn’t adapt them easily.” “The local community and Arthur who owns the garage next door managed to write in 45 letters of support with 15 letters of rejection.” “It wasn’t specifically us, it was just that they didn’t want to be seen to be making an exception but actually maybe this is an exceptional case.” Did you try and get the planners to understand what this meant to your family? “When we had our first meeting with the planners, we took Greta along and I think that was really useful because it helped them get what the house was all about. They understood why the plan had to be how it was, from the front it’s quite trad and then you go out the back is where it’s slightly different.” “We thought if we don’t get this what do we do, this is our life.” Was staying in Portobello important to you? “It’s a great place and it’s a really nice community, that was really important to us as well that Greta grew up in a community that knew her and didn’t see her as any different (why should they Greta). It’s very friendly and inclusive, we wanted to keep that but it’s sometimes very difficult to then build within a small footprint which is why we kinda did this house. What we really liked about the site was that it was right in the centre of Portobello.” Appendix E 105
“I don’t think we would’ve found a site otherwise because Portobello was getting really popular. It was a garage building here before, a shed that belonged to the mechanics garage, so we knocked it down. It was Thea that stumbled across it and then asked the owner if he wanted to sell it. Arthur, the mechanics next door, got people to write support letters during planning “he wanted you to have your house Greta.” All these community things that really help, it takes a village.” Why did you not go for a larger plot further out of town? “It means you’re at the edge of stuff and it’s a real shame because you probably need community around you [as a disabled person] more than anyone else.” How have you found the community have reacted to Greta? “Sometimes people don’t know how to do things, or how to support people but we’re reasonably good, when we have the time and energy at speaking openly about things. I know people have said they see things differently because of the way they see us living our lives, which is pretty good! We’re happy with that being our legacy, better than most buildings anyway!” “In the community they get lots of exposure, when Greta used to be at the primary school the walk was along the prom at the beach, which was lovely but occasionally they’d see me really stressing. It’s good to have all things visible and understood.” What’s it like leaving the house into the Built Environment? “You go away, and nothing is ever accessible so it’s really odd going on holiday, nothings working at all and then you come back and then everything’s working. We get so used to the fact we’ve designed the house this way.” “We offer go places and then do sketches, sometimes we do leave them if we think they deserve some tips. We’re trying to redesign the world!” How do you find it on holiday? “Mostly we’re not quite at that stage staying in places that are advertised accessible because we want to stay in particular places and particular types of houses. We go away to Europe a lot and the girls have grown up visiting all kinds of buildings.” “We went away not so long ago. Actually, that wasn’t really a holiday, that was really difficult!” What do you think makes a home? “I suspect it’s about cosiness of small spaces, huddling around a fire. I think homeliness is about smaller spaces, homes are about stuff and that’s why a hotel room doesn’t feel like a home. All that stuff you collect. Storage becomes a big problem but then that makes it homely because it feels lived in.” “People often say this feels quite homely and I think it’s because of that. I think we’ve got lots of things that are personal to use and also using a reclaimed floor and not quite finishing the painting!” “Variety of spatial type as well, I think here it’s about the small spaces so it’s not a uniformity of space, although this is open plan it’s all segmented and broken up and I think that adds to that homely feel.”
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“Although you can be in a big space, in a sub-space off that is smaller. I guess it’s about relating to scale that’s why a hotel foyer generally doesn’t feel homely regardless of how many sofas you put in it.” What does Bee think to having less space in the house and being the able-bodied sibling? “She complains about the space allocation a little bit as she has got less but she has a little raised up den in her room with steps that only she can get to. She has as much space as Greta it’s just doesn’t look like it! We have our little space den in the attic as well which will be our little retreat.” “Bee says she’s quite glad not to have the extra attention!” “I’ve seen other families where there’s a definite focus on really trying to make everything equal and it’s not that things aren’t equally because if Bee needs us we’re there for her and we do stuff just with her. But it’s her character to not too much focus on her.” “She has the house to herself if she wants when she gets back but if she needs us, she always comes in for a chat.” “The house is fun, because it’s rampy and it’s great for parties!” How has your personal experience influenced your professional practice? “We’ve only set up practice since we’ve been here, looked around the house and thought we could do this for other people. We’ve done that because of building the house. It wasn’t really in our mindset before, but I’m so glad we did, our life is just hugely better for doing this.” How has working from home affected your life? “Because we’ve got our own practice we work really flexibly, we do lots of stuff supporting Greta’s learning with her art and stuff.” “Flexible living and working that we’re doing here has changed a lot, it has an effect on our children.” “The office is attached but you have to go out of the house to go into it.” “It’s not like one of us goes off to an office and is then away, we are both here so when the girls come back we’re both here. Ian used to commute to Glasgow, but it was too much.” “We can be out there, or Bee can be down with her or Greta can come into the office with us and see how we work which is really invaluable. There’s a real flexibility around our working living lives, there’s something interesting around changing that balance.” “The only reason that works is because we don’t have to decide about it until it happens, a lot of things we decide as we go along.” “It’s easier to be your own boss and control it but there’s a lot of other pressures that come with it.” What sort of accessible projects have you been designing? “One of our first buildings we designed when we set up practice was The Rings, a wheelchair accessible holiday cottage over in Fife. She really tried to cater for all different support needs, she worked really hard to do it and I think she’s been pretty successful, but holiday cottages are probably a bit easier as you need less stuff and it’s for a shorter time. But it was interesting what would work for lots of different people because you are having to constantly place yourself in other people’s shoes. Although the building is fixed, she’s been developing how it works with the people who come and stay so people can say if it isn’t very good.”
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“Some of the work we do is converting and extending people’s houses so that they can live in them, those will often be in quite urban situations. Which is good to show people that you’ve got a small bungalow with a small footprint but if we rearrange a bit at the back and extend you don’t have to move.” Have many clients asked for a ramp over a bungalow? “We haven’t as architects been asked to do another ramp house yet.” Have you thought about longer term living arrangements when Greta gets older? “I don’t know what will happen at the moment, she’s only 14 so we don’t need to think about it yet. But I know if Greta gets the house Bee will be furious!” “Ideally if we could find another small site in Portobello to give her independence that we could design specifically for her with support workers and that would be the ideal really. On occasion we’ve seen sites that might be good, but we don’t have any money.” “Because we can design stuff and know how to do it, it wouldn’t need to be as much as this. We could actually probably just for her do it all on one level and still get it to work really well, and then maybe carer upstairs.” Could she stay living here? “Probably she might need to adapt some things, they might put in some safety things. But then what would we do as this our home as well!” Would you be happy living here just the two of you? “I could happily live here because I think it’s a quirky interesting house that works really well. It just feels like our home.” “I love it as well it’s kind of our life time home, or it might be hers actually she might kick us out!” Do you think disabled people are more deserving? “No, but I suppose they have more needs. Sometimes people say everything has to be the same and equal, but you think what is the same and equal for different people. Some people do need the bigger box in order to see. Do you know that image of 3 kids trying to watch sports? Difference between equality and having an equal share, if everyone has an equal share you all move up together, which a lot of people don’t need.” “Bee being exposed to disabled equality has made her incredibly caring and passionate towards other people in need, she’s really interested in gender and race equality.” “People who have had struggles are far more likely to be empathetic and better at intersectionality. Everyone benefits from it, Greta being in the community, it’s such a lovely positive thing that they get lots from her, and her art. It doesn’t feel like we’re just the ones being helped, which is good because you don’t want to feel like that.”
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APPENDIX F WOMEN’S HOUSING FORUM WORKSHOP Women’s Housing Forum Institute of Structural Engineers - Friday 18th January 2019 https://www.womenshousingforum.org Women in Design Workshop 3 - Run by Wendy Davis (Rooms of Our Own) and Susan Mackie (Homes England) During a workshop at the inaugural Women’s Housing Forum, I helped run a ‘Women in Design’ workshop. Each group was asked a case study scenario to comment on and advise. The group was predominately made up of women (ages roughly 35 – 65) and one man in his 50s. There was a mixture of backgrounds and ethnicities, and worked at Housing Associations, housing/homelessness charities, Chartered Institute of Housing, Women’s Pioneer Housing, council housing departments or were social housing tenants. None declared themselves as identifying with a disability, though some were affected by the ageing. The group I was in was assigned the following design scenario. Their responses were recorded on postit notes as the discussions developed over 30 minutes. Design Scenario 3 “An able-bodied designer creating a project for a group of women with physical and/or learning disabilities.” 1. What 3 key challenges do you think would help designers in designing the following housing projects? 2. How could those challenges be best addressed? 3. In your experience what knowledge can you share that will help to ensure the best design for this type of project? 4. What would help you to design successfully for this client group? 5. How can the future work of the Women’s Housing Forum help designers to address women specific housing need?
Figure. 11 Francis-Smith, A. (2019). Women’s Housing Forum. [Photograph]
Appendix F 109
“Comfortable safe refuge – not work as I don’t have to do it” “Homes designed for ageing and future lifetime homes” “Wife can’t reach top shelves!” “Navigate basic functions – tech buttons” “Kitchens with no windows – drives me mad!” “Aesthetic is important, needs to look and feel like a home but need function and it works” “Community resource – allotment, garden spaces” “Tech for greater independence” “Public ‘living room’ shared space for all” “Multiple sessions with different people – disability is a spectrum” “Removing fussy confusing interface systems” “Trying to get them to understand other people’s perspectives” “Teaching empathy to designers – don’t know how though it must be very hard!” “Surprised universities don’t have a higher priority/ focus on Access for architecture students” “Workspace co-operative on site” “Women need emotive aesthetic atmosphere – men as construction detail viewpoint” “Video people at home in current space to learn” “User-led design – communication talk groups” “Empathy scenarios architects simulations” “Risk averse – playing with the safe option” “Developers all about money and squeeze out all the extra bits of design that help people” “Integrating technology would be amazing – help ease lives – but someone has to pay for it!” “Investing in better accessible housing would help the NHS and social care – saves them money!” “Inspire vision – case studies as good examples to convince clients” “Forum to promote examples of better practice” Appendix F 110
CORRESPONDENCE CHAMBERS MCMILLAN - FACEBOOK MESSAGES
McMillan, T. (2019). Discussion on Ramp House Funding. [Facebook Messenger] (Personal Communication, 7 January 2019). Figure. 12 Francis-Smith, A. (2019). Facebook Message from Amy Francis-Smith to Chambers McMillan Architects. [Screenshot]
LAURENT HOUSE MUSEUM - FACEBOOK MESSAGES
Laurent House Museum. (2019). Discussion on Client Relationship Between The Laurents And Frank Lloyd Wright. [Facebook Messenger] (Personal Communication, 5 January 2019). Figure. 12a Francis-Smith, A. (2019). Facebook Message from Amy Francis-Smith to Laurent House Museum. [Screenshot]
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ILLUSTRATION REFERENCING Front Cover – Inspired by the work of Laura Hershey Figure. B Hershey, L. (1991). In The Way: ADAPT Poems. [Leaflet] Self Published: Chapbook. With Thanks Figure. A Allen, N. (2016). Terry in Living Room. [Photograph] Available at: https://www.facebook. com/nicola.allen.1848/photos_albums [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Why Is A House Not A Home? Figure. 1a Ellis, C. (2016). Home. [Drawing] London: Walker Books. Figure. 1b Steinberg, S. (1949). The Art of Living. [Drawing] New York: Harper and Brothers. Psychological Impact of a House Figure. 2a Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Facebook Survey. (Appendix A). Figure. 2b Aspire, (2014). Wheelchair Accessible Housing: Waiting For Appropriate Housing In England. [Online] Stanmore: Aspire. Available at: https://www.housinglin.org.uk/_assets/Resources/ Housing/Support_materials/accessiblehousing2014-aspire.pdf [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Department for Work and Pensions, Office for Disability Issues, and The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, (2016). Business Champions Recruited To Lead A ‘War On Inaccessibility’. [press release] 21st December 2016. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/business-champions-recruitedto-lead-a-war-on-inaccessibility Habinteg. (2015). Accessible Homes: Local Authority Scrutiny Toolkit. London: Centre for Accessible Environments. Leonard Cheshire Disability, (2014a). The Real Cost Of The Lack Of Disabled-Friendly Homes. [Online] London: Leonard Cheshire Disability. Available at: https://www.leonardcheshire.org/sites/default/ files/The%20Real%20Cost%20-%20Home%20Truths%2C%20Leonard%20Cheshire%20Disability.pdf [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Leonard Cheshire Disability, (2014b). The Hidden Housing Crisis. [Online] London: Leonard Cheshire Disability. Available at: https://www.leonardcheshire.org/sites/default/files/Hidden%20Housing%20 Crisis%20July%2014.pdf [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Leonard Cheshire Disability, (2014c). No Place Like Home: 5 Million Reasons To Make Housing Disabled-Friendly. [Online] London: Leonard Cheshire Disability. Available at: https://www. leonardcheshire.org/sites/default/files/no-place-like-home-leonard-cheshire-disabiltiy.pdf [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Leonard Cheshire Disability, (2015). The Long Wait For A Home. [Online] London: Leonard Cheshire Disability. Available at: https://www.leonardcheshire.org/sites/default/files/Leonard-CheshireDisability-The-Long-Wait-for-a-Home.pdf [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Myerson, J. ed. (2017). New Old: Designing for our future selves. London: The Design Museum. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. (2002). English House Condition Survey: Key Facts. London: ODPM. Figure. 2c Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Facebook Survey. (Appendix A). Figure. 2d Ibid. Figure. 2e Habinteg. (2015). Accessible Homes: Local Authority Scrutiny Toolkit. London: Centre for Accessible Environments. Figure. 2f Roys, M. (2012). Assessing The Health Benefits Of Lifetime Homes. [Chart] London: Department for Communities and Local Government.
Figure. 2g Roys, M. (2012). Assessing The Health Benefits Of Lifetime Homes. [Chart] London: Department for Communities and Local Government. Figure. 2h Bentham, J. (1995). The Panopticon Writings. [Drawing] London: Verso. Figure. 2ia Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Facebook Survey. (Appendix A). Figure. 2ib Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Facebook Survey. (Appendix A). Figure. 2ic Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Facebook Survey. (Appendix A). Figure. 2id Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Facebook Survey. (Appendix A). Figure. 2j Bordas Eddy, M. (2017). Universal Accessibility: On The Need Of An Empathy-Based Architecture. [Graph]. PhD. Tampere University of Technology. Accessible Housing in The Built Environment Figure. 3a Hunt, P. (1972). Guardian Letter. [Letter] (Published communication, 20th September 1972). Figure. 3b Sparrow, A. (2016). Families and Disabled People ‘Hit Worse By Rising Homelessness’. The Guardian. [Online] December 2016. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/ dec/23/families-and-disabled-people-hit-worse-by-rising-homelessness [Accessed 27 December 2018]. Figure. 3c Approved Document M - Volume 1: Dwellings UK Building Regulations 2010. London: HMSO Figure. 3d Leonard Cheshire Disability, (2015). The Long Wait For A Home. [Online] London: Leonard Cheshire Disability. Available at: https://www.leonardcheshire.org/sites/default/files/LeonardCheshire-Disability-The-Long-Wait-for-a-Home.pdf [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Figure. 3e Gommon, A. Lifetime Homes Costs. Available at: http://www.lifetimehomes.org.uk/pages/ costs.html [Accessed 27 December 2018]. Figure. 3f Roys, M. (2012). Assessing The Health Benefits Of Lifetime Homes. London: Department for Communities and Local Government. Figure. 3g CAE. (2015). Advanced ICT Project Transforms Lives of Tenants. Access By Design Magazine, 143, p.13. London: Centre for Accessible Environments. Figure. 3h Crowther, L. (2018). Home Adaptions Giving More Choice. [Online]. Available from: https:// www.ageing-better.org.uk/news/home-adaptations-giving-more-choice# [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Figure. 3i Ryan, F. (2014). This 60-Metre Wheelchair Ramp Could Make Britain Great Again. The Guardian. [Photograph] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/ feb/14/60-metre-wheelchair-ramp-britain-great [Accessed 27 December 2018]. Figure. 3j Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. (2005). Reviewing the Disabled Facilities Grant Programme. London: ODPM. Figure. 3k Habinteg. (2015). Accessible Homes: Local Authority Scrutiny Toolkit. London: Centre for Accessible Environments. Figure. 3l Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. (2002). English House Condition Survey: Key Facts. [Graph] London: ODPM. Figure. 3m Ryan-Collins, R, Lloyd, T and Macfarlane, L. (2017). Rethinking Economics of Land and Housing. [Graph] p.82. London: Zed Books. Figure. 3n Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Grove Road Display. [Photograph] (RIBA Collections, Without Walls Exhibition, V & A Museum).
Illustration Referencing 124
Societal Views on Disability – The Social Responsibility of Architects in The Built Environment Figure. 4a Gov.uk. (2015). Family Resources Survey: Financial Year 2015/16. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/family-resources-survey-financial-year-201516 [Accessed 5 January 2019].NHS. (2018). Wheelchair Services. [Online] Available at: https://www.england.nhs. uk/wheelchair-services [Accessed 16 December 2018]. Figure. 4b Abode Impact, (2018). Accessibility Is The Key: Wheelchair Accessible Homes Needed For Private Rent. [Online] London: Abode Impact. Available at: http://abodeimpact.co.uk/wp-content/ uploads/2018/11/Abode-Impact-Research-Report.pdf [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Figure. 4c Myerson, J. ed. (2017). New Old: Designing for our future selves. London: The Design Museum. Statistica. (2018). Number of TV Households in The UK. [Online] Available at: https://www.statista. com/statistics/269969/number-of-tv-households-in-the-uk/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 4d Gov.uk. (2015). Family Resources Survey: Financial Year 2015/16. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/family-resources-survey-financial-year-201516 [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 4e Leonard Cheshire Disability, (2014). The Hidden Housing Crisis. [Online] London: Leonard Cheshire Disability. Available at: https://www.leonardcheshire.org/sites/default/files/Hidden%20 Housing%20Crisis%20July%2014.pdf [Accessed 22 November 2018]. Ergonomic Influences on User-Led Architectural Design Figure. 5a da Vinci, L. (c. 1487). Vitruvian Man. [Drawing] Venice: Collection of Gallerie dell’Accademia. Figure. 5b Le Corbusier. (1945). Le Modular. [Drawing] Banques d’Images, ADAGP/Art Resources, New York, ©ARS. Figure. 5c Dreyfuss, H. (1969). The Measure of Man. [Lithograph] Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Henry Dreyfuss Archive, gift of Henry Dreyfuss, 1954-68). Figure. 5d Carpentier, T. (2011) Re-interpretation of the Modulor by Le Corbusier. [Electronic Print] Available at: https://www.thomascarpentier.com/Modulor [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 5e Carpentier, T. (2011) Measure(s) of Man: Architects’ Data Add-on. [Electronic Print] Available at: https://www.thomascarpentier.com/Measure-s-of-Man-Architects-Data-Add-on [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 5f Wellcome Library. (1944). Make Our Men As Fit As Our Machines. [Illustration] Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/research/inclusive-heritage/disability-history/1945-to-the-present-day [Accessed 5 January 2019]. The Role of Accessible Technology in The Home Figure. 6ai Business Insider. (2015). Long Term Price Trends for Electronic Goods and Services. [Graph] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/historical-price-trends-for-tech-products-201510?r=US&IR=T [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 6a Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Technology Timeline. [Illustration]. Figure. 6b Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Facebook Survey. (Appendix C). Figure. 6c Ibid. Figure. 6d CAE. (2015). Advanced ICT Project Transforms Lives of Tenants. [Graph] Access By Design Magazine. 143, p.16-21. London: Centre for Accessible Environments. Laurent House – Frank Lloyd Wright Figure. 7a Wright, F,L. (1949) Laurent House Original Plan. [Drawing] Reproduced in: Storrer W.A. 2006. The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Illustration Referencing 125
Figure. 7b Kendall, J. (2015). The proposal to Wright for the Laurent Home [Image Online] Available at: https://www.jeffkuykendall.com/2015/08/17/frank-lloyd-wrights-laurent-house-and-pettitmemorial-chapel [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7c Serlin, D. (c. 1934). Disabled veterans of the First World War. [Photograph] Reproduced in: Boys, J. (2017). p.16. London: Routledge. Collection of David Serlin. Figure. 7d Historic England Archive. (c. 1950). A man in a wheelchair is pushed up a ramp into the back of a waiting van run by The Not Forgotten Association, a charity for disabled army veterans, in front of the railings of Buckingham Palace. London: Historic England Archive. Available at: https:// historicengland.org.uk/research/inclusive-heritage/disability-history/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7e [Kenneth and Marc in the garden] 1954. [image online] Available at: https://www. facebook.com/LaurentHouse/photos/a.328108690593353/1317622528308626/?type=3&theater [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7f Wright 20, 2011. Exterior Entrance. [image online] Available at: https://www.wright20. com/auctions/2011/12/important-design/378 [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7g Ibid. Figure. 7h Ibid. Figure. 7i Trystcraft, 2018. Bedroom & Bathroom Extension. [image online] Available at: https:// www.trystcraft.com/single-post/2018/02/02/Touring-the-Laurent-House-in-Rockford-IL-Frank-LloydWrights-Little-Gem [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7j Michele, 2014. Master Bedroom Fireplace [image online] Available at: https://www. hellolovelystudio.com/2014/06/hometown-hero-laurent-house-2.html [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7k Akerlund, N. 2011. View of Fireplace in Living Room [image online] Available at: https:// www.laurenthouse.com/gallery [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7l [Kenneth and Jean in the Living Room] n.d. [image online] Available at: https://www. facebook.com/LaurentHouse/photos/a.328108690593353/1013061378764744/?type=3&theater [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7m [Jean in the Kitchen] n.d. [image online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/ LaurentHouse/photos/a.328108690593353/1397246370346241/?type=3&theater [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7n [Family Portrait in the House.] n.d. [image online] Available at: https://www.facebook. com/LaurentHouse/photos/a.328108690593353/1622159864521556/?type=3&theater [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7o Morgan, S. 2009. Goal_ Preserve home designed by Wright. [image online] Available at: https://www.rrstar.com/x23529193/Group-s-goal-Preserve-home-designed-by-Frank-Lloyd-Wright [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7p Trystcraft, 2018. Master Bathroom at the Laurent House. [image online] Available at: https://www.trystcraft.com/single-post/2018/02/02/Touring-the-Laurent-House-in-Rockford-ILFrank-Lloyd-Wrights-Little-Gem [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7q Pannell, C. 2018. Master Bathroom in the Laurent House. [image online] Available at: http://emerginghorizons.com/the-accessible-house-that-frank-built/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7r Pannell, C. 2018. Master Bedroom in the Laurent House [image online] Available at: http:// emerginghorizons.com/the-accessible-house-that-frank-built/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7s Akerlund, N. 2011. View of Table in Living Room and Shelving [image online] Available at: https://www.laurenthouse.com/gallery [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 7t Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Laurent House. [Illustration].
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Maison Á Bordeaux – Rem Koolhaas (OMA) Figure. 8a Eberle, T. (1998). Rem Koolhaas and client, Jean François Lemoine, Maison á Bordeaux, May 1998. [image online] Available at: https://archinect.imgix.net/uploads/19/192xk3437mqt3vfp. jpg?fit=crop&auto=compress%2Cformat&w=1500 [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8b Werlemann, H. (1998). View from Approach [image online] Available at: https://www. archdaily.com/104724/ad-classics-maison-bordeaux-oma [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8c Ibid. Figure. 8d Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Structural Strategy. [Illustration]. Figure. 8e Werlemann, H. (1998). Exterior Facade [image online] Available at: https://www.archdaily. com/104724/ad-classics-maison-bordeaux-oma [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8f KoolHaas HouseLife. 2013. [DVD] dir. Beka, Ila & Lousie Lemoine. Paris: Beka & Partners. Figure. 8g Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Porthole Alignment. [Illustration]. Figure. 8h Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Maison a Bordeaux Drawing & Letter Scans. [photograph] (RIBA Collections, Without Walls Exhibition, V&A Museum). Figure. 8i Muller, F. (2009). Lemoine [image online] Available at: http://www.maartenvanseveren.be/ en/About/Details/2348/lemoine [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8j Ellis, C. (1998). Koolhaas in Bordeaux. Architectural Review, 203, p.85. [Photograph] Figure. 8k Werlemann, H. (1998). Lift [image online] Available at: https://www.archdaily. com/104724/ad-classics-maison-bordeaux-oma [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8l Muller, F. (2009). Lemoine [image online] Available at: http://www.maartenvanseveren.be/ en/About/Details/2348/lemoine [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8m [Kitchen at Maison a Bordeaux]. (c. 1998). [image online] Available at: https://memaar. files.wordpress.com/2011/04/bordeaux-kitchen.jpg [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8n van Eeden, S. (2014). Koolhaas Bordeaux [video online] Available at: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=wPJ3tTTLxhA [Accessed 14 September 2018]. Figure. 8o Muller, F. (2009). Lemoine [image online] Available at: http://www.maartenvanseveren. be/en/About/Details/2348/lemoine [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8p KoolHaas HouseLife. 2013. [DVD] dir. Beka, Ila & Lousie Lemoine. Paris: Beka & Partners. Figure. 8q Ibid. Figure. 8r van Eeden, S. (2014). Koolhaas Bordeaux [video online] Available at: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=wPJ3tTTLxhA [Accessed 14 September 2018]. Figure. 8s KoolHaas HouseLife. 2013. [DVD] dir. Beka, Ila & Lousie Lemoine. Paris: Beka & Partners. Figure. 8t Ibid. Figure. 8u Ibid. Figure. 8v Muller, F. (2009). Lemoine [image online] Available at: http://www.maartenvanseveren.be/ en/About/Details/2348/lemoine [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8w Blaisse, P. (2012). Interior View [image online] Available at: https://www.metalocus.es/en/ news/revisiting-maison-a-bordeaux-lemoine-rem-koolhaas[Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 8x Ibid. Figure. 8y KoolHaas HouseLife. 2013. [DVD] dir. Beka, Ila & Lousie Lemoine. Paris: Beka & Partners. Figure. 8z Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Floor Plans. [Illustration]. Figure. 8zi Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Vertical Strategy. [Illustration]. Figure. 8zii Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Circulation Axo. [Illustration]. Ramp House – Chambers McMillan Figure. 9a Chambers McMillan. (2010). Ramp Axo. [Drawing] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/drawings/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9b Chambers McMillan. (2010). Ramp Axo Plan. [Drawing] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/drawings/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Illustration Referencing 127
Figure. 9c Chambers McMillan. (2010). Ramp Fold. [Drawing] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/drawings/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9d Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Previous House Plan. [Illustration]. Figure. 9e Ordinance Survey. (2019). 19 Mentone Avenue, 1:200. EDINA Digimap [online] Available through: Birmingham City University Library https://digimap.edina.ac.uk [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9f Google Maps. (May 2018). 19 Mentone Avenue. [Photograph] Available at: https://www. google.com/maps/place/19+Mentone+Ave,+Edinburgh+EH15+1JEemail@example.com,-3.1141458,51m/ data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x4887b9b23f3e1123:0x1f38f781a86c01a5!8m2!3d55.9541057!4d3.1139795[Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9g McMillan, I. (2008). Rear Elevation 19 Mentone Avenue. [Photograph] Available at: http://citydev-portal.edinburgh.gov.uk/idoxpa-web/ files/7E370473AEA597448DEA5B6DFE2A9E10/08_01237_FUL-SITE_PHOTO-689366.jpg [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9h McMillan, T. (n.d.). 19 Mentone Avenue Kitchen. [Photograph] Available at: https://www. facebook.com/thea.j.mcmillan/photos?lst=840964171%3A1324464836%3A1542279683&source_ ref=pb_friends_tl [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9i Barbour, D. (2013). Ramp House View. [Photograph] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/photographs/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9j Barbour, D. (2013). Ramp House View. [Photograph] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/photographs/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9k Chambers McMillan. (2010). Children Designing. [Photograph] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/design-process/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9l Chambers McMillan. (2010). Cardboard Model. [Photograph] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9m Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Ramp House Corridor. [Photograph]. Figure. 9n Barbour, D. (2013). Ramp House View. [Photograph] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/photographs/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9o McMillan, T. (2012). 19 Squirrel Cottage Charts. [Chart] Available at: https://theamcm. wordpress.com/?s=pie [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9p Barbour, D. (2013). Ramp House View. [Photograph] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/photographs/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9q Barbour, D. (2013). Ramp House View. [Photograph] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/photographs/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9r McMillan, T. (2013). EyeGaze Artwork. [Photograph] Available at: https://www.facebook. com/thea.j.mcmillan/photos?lst=840964171%3A1324464836%3A1542279683&source_ref=pb_ friends_tl [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9s McMillan, T. (n.d.). Ville Savoye Ramp. [Photograph] Available at: https://www.facebook. com/thea.j.mcmillan/photos?lst=840964171%3A1324464836%3A1542279683&source_ref=pb_ friends_tl [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9t McMillan, T. (n.d.). Koolhaas Educatorium. [Photograph] Available at: https://www. facebook.com/thea.j.mcmillan/photos?lst=840964171%3A1324464836%3A1542279683&source_ ref=pb_friends_tl [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9u Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Ramp Chart. [Illustration]. Figure. 9v Hunt, H. (2014). Sue Mahoneyâ€™s Son John Canâ€™t Leave Home Because Of A Broken Lift. Disabled Man Left Prisoner In Own Home After Lift Breaks Down. Liverpool Echo. [Photograph] Available at: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/wirral-disabled-man-left-prisoner-7552083 [Accessed 20 December 2018]. Figure. 9w McMillan, T. (n.d.). Greta in Hoist. [Photograph] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/ thea.j.mcmillan/photos?lst=840964171%3A1324464836%3A1542279683&source_ref=pb_friends_tl Illustration Referencing 128
[Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9x Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Bea’s Room. [Photograph]. Figure. 9y McMillan, T. (n.d.). Thea & Greta in Studio. [Photograph] Available at: https://www. facebook.com/thea.j.mcmillan/photos?lst=840964171%3A1324464836%3A1542279683&source_ ref=pb_friends_tl [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9z (Ordinance Survey, 2019). Portobello, Edinburgh. Figure. 9aa Francis-Smith, A. (2018). External Front Facade. [Photograph]. Figure. 9ab Barbour, D. (2013). Ramp House View. [Photograph] Available at: http://www. cmcmarchitects.com/the-ramp-house/photographs/ [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Figure. 9ac Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Floor Plans. [Illustration]. Figure. 9ad Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Sections. [Illustration]. Figure. 9ae Google Maps. (2019). 9e Bellfield Lane. [Photograph] Available at: https://www.google. firstname.lastname@example.org,-3.1095571,107m/data=!3m1!1e3 [Accessed 5 January 2019]. Conclusion Figure. 10 Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Facebook Survey – Case Studies. (Appendix D). Figure. 10a Habinteg, (2018). #ForAccessibleHomes [Instagram] [Photograph] 29th June 2016 – 29th June 2018. Available at: https://www.instagram.com/Habinteg [Accessed 20 November 2018]. Figure. 10b Habraken, J. (2002). The Uses of Levels 1988. Keynote Address UNESCO Regional Seminar on Shelter for the Homeless Seoul. Open House International Vol. 27 no. 2. Cambridge: MIT. Figure. 10c Ibid. Figure. 10d Center for Universal Design. (1997). The Principles of Universal Design, 2nd ed. [Online] Raleigh: North Carolina State University. Available at: https://projects.ncsu.edu/design/cud/about_ ud/udprinciplestext.htm [Accessed 20 November 2018]. Figure. 10e Bordas Eddy, M. (2017). Universal Accessibility: On The Need Of An Empathy-Based Architecture. [Illustration]. PhD. Tampere University of Technology. Figure. 10f Bordas Eddy, M. (2017). Universal Accessibility: On The Need Of An Empathy-Based Architecture. [Illustration]. PhD. Tampere University of Technology. Figure. 10g Richmond. (2018). Grand Designs. [TV Programme]. Channel 4, 3rd October 2018. Available at: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/grand-designs/episode-guide [Accessed 23 December 2018]. Figure. 10h LaFond, M and Tsvetkova, L. (2017). CoHousing Inclusive. [Drawing] Berlin: Jovis. Figure. 10i Francis-Smith, A. (2018). Lived Everyday Experience of Inclusive Design. In: Disruptive Design. [Photograph] Victoria & Albert Museum, 28th September 2018. London: V&A. Figure. 10j Ibid. Figure. 10k Bordas Eddy, M. (2017). Universal Accessibility: On The Need Of An Empathy-Based Architecture. [Illustration]. PhD. Tampere University of Technology. Figure. 10l Ibid. Appendix F Figure. 11 Francis-Smith, A. (2019). Women’s Housing Forum. [Photograph] Correspondence Figure. 12 Francis-Smith, A. (2019). Facebook Message from Amy Francis-Smith to Chambers McMillan Architects. [Screenshot] Figure. 12a Francis-Smith, A. (2019). Facebook Message from Amy Francis-Smith to Laurent House Museum. [Screenshot]
Illustration Referencing 129
CONFERENCES & EVENTS New Old Exhibition Design Museum, London - 12th January –19th February 2017 www.designmuseum.org/whats-on/pop-up-exhibitions/new-old Naidex 2017 – Independent Living Exhibition NEC, Birmingham - Tuesday 28th March 2017 www.naidex.co.uk Global Disability Innovation Summit 2017 Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - 13th and 14th July 2017 www.disabilitysummit.co.uk www.disabilityinnovation.com Wheelchair Accessible Housing: Building Regulations, Approved Document M Category 3 One Day Course Certificated September 2017 Centre for Accessible Environments www.cae.org.uk The Care & Dementia Show NEC, Birmingham – 10th October 2017 www.careshow.co.uk Member of the Access Association – October 2017 - October 2018 www.accessassociation.co.uk NRAC (National Register of Access Consultants) Conference 2017 Southbank, London - 1st November 2017 www.nrac.org.uk Naidex 2018 –Independent Living Exhibition NEC, Birmingham - 25th April 2018 www.naidex.co.uk Women’s Housing Forum Institute of Structural Engineers - 18th January 2019 https://www.womenshousingforum.org Conferences & Events 130
GLOSSARY Disabled A person with a physical or mental condition that limits their movements, senses, or activities. Able-bodied Fit and healthy. Not physically disabled. “People who are healthy and have no illness, injury, or condition that makes it difficult to do the things that other people do” (McIntosh, 2013). Accessible Housing The construction or modification of housing to enable independent living for persons with disabilities. Psychogeography The study of the influence of geographical environments on the mind or behaviour. User-Led Design A framework of processes to enable user and designer to negotiate the design stage and communicate intentions, expectations and ideal outcomes together clearly. Built Environment Man-made structures, features, and facilities viewed collectively as an environment in which people live and work. Universal Design The design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. Placemaker A multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Capitalising on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of promoting people’s health, happiness, and well being.
Thanks to: Adrian Carolan Ben Francis-Smith Ian Shepard Ian, Thea, Greta & Beatrice McMillan Beverley Smith Geoffrey Francis Dr Jos Boys and to all the 100s of people who responded to my surveys
Psychogeography of the Home A Disabled Perspective A Contextualised Analysis of the UK Accessible Housing Market
Special Study ARC7212
MArch Architecture S17139899
2018 - 2019 Level 6 Masters Birmingham City University
Psychogeography of the Home – A Disabled Perspective: A Contextualised Analysis of the UK Accessible Housing Market Research Thesis Academ...
Published on Jan 1, 2019
Psychogeography of the Home – A Disabled Perspective: A Contextualised Analysis of the UK Accessible Housing Market Research Thesis Academ...