Image: Arkulars Universal Design Modular Home


The Importance of Universal Design

“Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible.” – Ron Mace

As one of the primary authors of this post today, and as a mother, partner, sister and daughter who lives with a muscular disability, I have desired to create a space that allows me and others who face daily challenges alien to numerous able-bodied people, to thrive and feel alive in a space that does not discriminate.

A mantra of Universal Design is to create homes that are a safe space for us to relax, socialise and get on with everyday life, regardless of one’s mobility. For many, this is unachievable, due to inaccessible design and architectural limitations.

My passion is design, sustainability, and having the ability to provide a platform to give back to the community, raising awareness of the importance of Universal Design to reduce barriers and increase inclusion for all within the community.

The Team at Arkular have got behind me to help create this beautiful space.

What is Universal Design?

A universally designed building avoids barriers that discriminate against visitors or occupants, to ensure inclusiveness, promotes accessibility and is useable over time without the need for major adjustments.

Livable Housing Australia is helping make homes easier to access, navigate and live in. They have produced a set of practical, common-sense guidelines to increase the livability and accessibility of homes for people of all abilities.

According to these guidelines, a universally designed home should:

  • be easy to enter and move around in;
  • be capable of easy and cost-effective adaptation; and
  • be designed to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of home occupants

Although some people have significant functional needs that require specialised design, utilising universal design principles as a foundation provides the ability to accommodate a wide range of demographics.

Image by Marcus Aurelius

The Impact of Inaccessible Design

Research from Goodwin et al. (2022), sites evidence of emotional, economic, social and physical health impacts of inaccessible housing for those with mobility limitations.

More than 80% of respondents indicated they could not visit family and friends whose homes were inaccessible, leading to isolation, loneliness and disconnection from the community.

Welcome to Arkulars Universal Design Modular Home

A beautiful, accessible and adaptable space, the Arkular Universal Design Modular Home creates a place of comfort and refuge, encouraging deep connections with nature to be forged and allowing spirit and imagination to flow freely.

Carefully structured battens and forms in the facades allow sun and wind to slip through delicately, showcasing natural patterns and providing life, drama and movement across the spaces within. Light and shade dance in unison across the interior spaces and facades that may have otherwise been static in nature.

Accessibility has been achieved internally with the inclusion of open corridors, enhanced doorway widths with accessible wet areas and bedrooms. Accessible verandahs wrap around the dwelling, allowing for ease of access, shade from the sun and screening from harsher weather elements.

The home is equipped for both current accessibility requirements and is also adaptable for future needs. We are NDIS Specialist in Disability Accommodation and can accommodate to many needs with our modular flexibility.

Image: Arkulars Universal Design Modular Home

Inclusions for an Accessible Home

1. Doorway width
The minimum clear opening of a doorway on a continuous accessible path of travel must be no less than 850 mm.

2. Open-plan living
Open-plan spaces and floorplans are essential for wheelchair users to have plenty of room to move without restriction.

3. Accessible bathrooms and kitchens
Roll-in and curbless showers, grab rails and shower chairs and benches must be considered for an accessible bathroom. Lower storage units and countertops, open space under sinks and access-compliant appliances are needed for a safe and accessible kitchen.

4. Wheelchair Accessible Wardrobe
Lower wardrobe rods and shelving units are needed to compensate for the height of a wheelchair.

Design that does not differentiate

At Arkular, we are constantly advocating for ways to improve the quality of life for people of all abilities.

Increasing awareness of accessible and universal design will assist in mitigating any barriers that may discriminate against the elderly, people with specific health conditions or those with mobility issues.

Universal design is integral for promoting diversity and encouraging inclusion. We believe design shouldn’t be for him or her, them or us, able-bodied or differently-abled persons it should be for everyone.

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