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Universal Design: The Latest Architecture and News

Manhattan’s Center for Architecture Imagines the Future of Universal Design

How can Universal Design bridge the divides that have left many Americans stranded in their own communities? In its latest exhibition, Manhattan’s Center for Architecture calls for a “reset.” On view until September 3, Reset: Towards a New Commons, displays projects that “encourage new modes of living collaboratively” and “more holistic approaches to inclusion.”

Shared Porch, Aging Against the Machine. Image Courtesy of The Center for ArchitectureDecolonizing Suburbia. Image Courtesy of The Center for ArchitectureBlock Party. Image Courtesy of The Center for ArchitectureInstallation view of Reset: Towards a New Commons, now on view at Manhattan’s Center for Architecture through September 3. Image © Sam Lahoz+ 4

Architecture for People with Hearing Loss: 6 Design Tips

Contrary to what we might believe, hearing loss is not always congenital, but could sooner or later happen to any of us. According to the WHO, almost a third of people over 65 suffer from debilitating hearing loss. Yet from a certain perspective, hearing loss could be considered more of a 'difference' than a 'disability'. Although the spatial demands of people with hearing disabilities are not as noticeable as spaces for the blind or for those who experience reduced mobility, the reduction of hearing capacity does entail a particular way of experiencing the environment. Is it possible to enhance this experience through interior design?

Microsoft New England Research & Development Center / Sasaki. Image © John HornerMcDonald’s HQ Workplace / Studio O+A + IA Interior Architects. Image © Garrett RowlandArtek HQ Helsinki / SevilPeach. Image © Tuomas Uusheimo PhotographyLocomobile Lofts / Studio IDE. Image © Renae Lillie+ 7

Local Can Be Universal

In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Familiarity breeds contempt”. By definition “local” is “familiar”. Why are humans so thrilled to go beyond the familiar, the local, and reach for what is new, universal, and salvational? The word “local” has the weight of true value, like “density” or “sustainable” But the lure of connection between all humans is powerfully seductive, and that desire to connect almost always falls short of our hopes.  

Courtesy of Duo Dickinson Cephas Housing, Yonkers, New York© Henry-Fussell Hitchcock, Jr and Philip JohnsonCourtesy of Weißenhof­sied­lung StuttgartCourtesy of Bauhaus, Dessau, Germany+ 7

Karen Braitmayer, Founder of Studio Pacifica, Weighs in on Accessible Design

Karen Braitmayer, a disabled architect, consultant, and volunteer, brings her unique life experiences to Studio Pacifica, the Seattle‐based practice she founded in 1993. With deep expertise in code compliance and regulations, Braitmayer and her team work with architectural firms like Olson Kundig and Perkins and Will to help create barrier‐free civic, residential, and commercial buildings. Studio Pacifica has served as consultants on notable projects ranging from the Space Needle renovation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center and student housing at Smith College. Braitmayer was appointed by President Barack Obama to the United States Access Board, a position she still holds today.

As we mark the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this month, we spoke to her about how far we’ve come, and how we can continue to advance accessible design in the built environment.

A ramp at Deep Dive is an elegant and integrated part of the restaurant's design. Courtesy Studio PacificaAxle Apartments. Courtesy Studio PacificaStudio Pacifica consulted on Modera Ballard, a residential project in Seattle by Tiscareno Associates. Courtesy Studio PacificaStudio Pacifica also worked on Axle Apartments in Seattle's Interbay neighborhood. The apartments were designed by Encore Architects. Courtesy Studio Pacifica+ 6

What Types of Residential Floors Favor Wheelchair Circulation?

Klintholm Gods Lake Apartments / PLH Arkitekter. Image © Rozbeh ZavariHouse With Stone Patio / beef architekti. Image © Peter ČintalanHouse With Stone Patio / beef architekti. Image © Peter Čintalan© Ricardo Oliveira Alves+ 21

One of the most important design considerations that residential architects have the responsibility to address is accessibility, ensuring that people with disabilities can comfortably live at home without impediments blocking basic home functionality. Accessibility for wheelchair users is a particularly important architectural concern due to unalterable spatial, material, and other requirements necessitated by wheelchair design and use. Because guaranteeing the comfort of all users, including disabled users, is one of the most essential obligations of all architects, designing for wheelchair users must be done with utmost the attention and care, especially in residential environments. Below, we delineate several strategies for designing floors for wheelchair circulation, helping architects achieve this goal of maximum comfort and accessibility.

How to Design Safe Bathrooms for the Elderly

There exist frequent reports of toilet accidents, as they are often located in tight and slippery places. Although no one is immune to a slip after bathing, it is the elderly who suffer most from falls, and can often suffer serious injuries, sequelae, and functional limitations. Due to the natural reduction of reflexes and muscle mass, the higher the age group, the more prone to falls we become.

To provide more comfortable living conditions as users grow older, the environment must adapt to the new physical capabilities of its occupants. Making toilets safer is critical to reducing the risk of accidents and decreasing response time in the event of a fall. Here are some things to keep in mind when designing toilets for older people:

Residencia para Mayores en Mota del Cuervo (Cuenca) / GEED Arquitectos. Image © Alfredo Prados CovarrubiasResidencia geriàtrica Mas Piteu / Estudi PSP Arquitectura. Image © Francisco UrrutiaResidencia para Mayores en Mota del Cuervo (Cuenca) / GEED Arquitectos. Image © Alfredo Prados CovarrubiasHousing for Elderly People in Huningue / Dominique Coulon & associés. Image © Eugene Pons+ 11

We Need More Wheelchair Users to Become Architects

When famed architect Michael Graves contracted a mysterious virus in 2003, a new chapter in his life began. Paralyzed from the chest down, the pioneer of Postmodernism would be permanently required to use a wheelchair. Graves could have been forgiven for believing that having fought for his life, having been treated in eight hospitals and four rehab clinics, and needing permanent use of a wheelchair, that his most influential days as an architect were behind him. This was not the case. To the contrary, he would use this new circumstance to design trend-setting hospitals, rehab centers, and other typologies right up to his death in 2015, all with a new-found awareness of the everyday realities of those in wheelchairs, and what architects were, and were not doing, to aid their quality of life.

Avanti-Avanti Studio: "Design for All, the Start of the Creative Process is Through Individual Diversity"

Avanti-Avanti Studio is a design studio dedicated to the development of creative communication strategies, particularly specialized in “Design for All.” Founded by Alex Dobaño (graphic designer and member of the Design For All Foundation) and Elvira Muñoz (architect), the duo leads a multidisciplinary team of professional people in communication, design, and technology, and work with companies and institutions specialized in leisure, tourism, culture, museums, and cities. They describe their practice as a meeting point, where professionals from different fields come together for every new venture, to ensure that the built environments are suitable and inclusive for anyone experiencing them.

We talked to Alex, founder and creative director of the studio, to learn more about their work and the importance of introducing the Design for All concept in the integrated space design projects.

How to Design an Accessible Kitchen: Adjustable and Multifunctional Furniture

Universal accessibility in architecture refers to the capacity that all people have to access and inhabit a space regardless of their cognitive and physical capacities, and it is a subject that cannot be dismissed. Although little modifications can make a difference, it is ideal for the spaces to be thought out according to universal design guidelines from the beginning.

In the case of the kitchens, a series of new technologies that increase the comfort and efficiency of our daily spaces have made an appearance. Thus, multiplying its functions and allowing better use of the available surface. Let's take a look at the latest innovations presented by Häfele.

Courtesy of HäfeleCourtesy of HäfeleCourtesy of HäfeleCourtesy of Häfele+ 24

The Trends that Will Influence Architecture in 2019

It is, once again, the time of year where we look towards the future to define the goals and approaches that we will take for our careers throughout the upcoming year. To help the millions of architects who visit ArchDaily every day from all over the world, we compiled a list of the most popular ideas of 2018, which will continue to be developed and consolidated throughout 2019.

Over 130 million users discovered new references, materials, and tools in 2018 alone, infusing their practice of architecture with the means to improve the quality of life for our cities and built spaces. As users demonstrated certain affinities and/or demonstrated greater interest in particular topics, these emerged as trends. 

Why Do Architects Still Struggle with Disability Requirements?

This article was originally published on Common Edge as " Why Architects Still Struggle With Disability Requirements 28 Years After Passage of the ADA".

The recent death of President George H.W. Bush occasioned assessments of his administration’s legislative achievements, one of which was the far-ranging Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights act signed into law in 1990. The law included accommodations for people with disabilities in buildings. In the ensuing decades the ADA has had a significant impact on the design and construction of the built environment in the U.S. To gauge the impact of ADA, how it has evolved, common misconceptions about ADA, and its role in promoting social equity in architecture, I spoke with Peter Stratton, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Accessibility Services at Steven Winter Associates, who works with architects and others in the construction industry on the application of the ADA design standards. (I worked at the Connecticut-based Winter firm between 1996 and 2006; Stratton was a colleague.)

Design Accessible Bathrooms for All With This ADA Restroom Guide

In this article, we provide you with the tools to design more inclusive architecture. Although each region and country has its own accessibility guidelines which you should review in depth before starting a project, the material presented below, based on the ADA and ANSI standards, will help you design comfortable and efficient spaces for all its users.

Read on for detailed diagrams with the recommended measures to design an accessible bathroom.

Design a Bathroom for People with Disabilities by Downloading this Basic Revit Sample Model

As the profession becomes more aware of the variety of users who will use their architectural creations it is necessary to consider certain basic rules. In the end, the idea is that a building or space can be used comfortably, effectively and (if necessary) quickly by all users. Today the use of BIM technology encourages the incorporation of pre-modeled products in projects, which facilitates the processes. However, if pre-modeled products are not inclusively designed, there is an increased possibility of overlooking these accessible considerations–especially when their architects have no experience or are unaware of accessible design guidelines.

Bradley Corporation USA, a manufacturer of plumbing fixtures and bathroom accessories, has developed standard models of bathrooms for people with disabilities, delivering the basic requirements that must be incorporated according to the guidelines specified by organizations such as the ADA and the ANSI. Below we present an example of an accessible bathroom for a single person, incorporating, among other things, a touchless handwashing sink (all-in-one: soap, water, and hand dryer) and a series of safety bars. Before including it in your project, don't forget to check the local regulations of your country/region.

Universal Design and Accessibility Manuals from Latin America and Spain

Last year we shared a guide to the United States' ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Given the article's success and the diversity of our audience, we're making available a collection of guideline documents from Latin America and Spain. Whether you're working on projects in these countries or you're looking to broaden your knowledge of universal design, these guides should come in handy.

These documents—published as PDFs—have been made available by institutions and organizations and refer to the requirements and laws of the indicated countries. 

A Simple Guide to Using the ADA Standards for Accessible Design Guidelines

Only a special few architects can truly say they enjoy reading building codes. There’s no doubt that it’s daunting and it can certainly pose challenges to your design. Over time you’ll likely become familiar with the types of things you need to look out for on a project, but even the most experienced architects may still need to double-check a code question or two during the design process (or have an intern check it for them.) Unfortunately, many code documents are unwieldy to say the least, and there are few cases in which this is more true than the 279-page ADA Standards for Accessible Design. However, once you understand the layout and how to use a code book or the ADA guidelines, they become more manageable.

This guide aims to describe each chapter in the ADA 2010 guidelines to give a foundation for navigating them. Luckily for designers in United States, the documentation for the ADA Standards for Accessible Design is available online. Keep reading for a quick summary (all information and diagrams are directly from the guidelines). Check out the whole document here if you need it—or for convenience, each subheading in this article links directly to the relevant section in the PDF!

Golf facility standards. Image Courtesy of United States Department of JusticeAccessible route clear width. Image Courtesy of United States Department of JusticeRequired door clearances. Image Courtesy of United States Department of JusticeSignage standards. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice+ 16

A Triangulated Ramp Made For People With Reduced Mobility In Mind

© Micael Löfgren© Micael Löfgren© Micael Löfgren© Micael Löfgren+ 27

The geometric design from Lab for Planning and Architecture for the Municipality of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain is a morphological response that conditions Julio Navarro's and Roque Díaz's swimming pools allowing adequate movement of people with reduced mobility.

The project is a path of stairs and ramps with a triangular design that integrates with the surrounding landscape; the materiality and the constructive details are adapted to the different needs and natural conditions of the land.