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Universal Design

Universal design is commonly defined as: A worldwide design movement that seeks to make products, environments and communication usable to the greatest extent possible, by the broadest spectrum of users including children, older adults, people with permanent or temporary disabilities, or people of atypical size. 

 Universal design respects human diversity and promotes inclusion of all people in all activities of life.  It is not an identifiable style but a way of thinking about the design process.  Universal design defines good design as attractive as well as easy and comfortable to use.

In his practice Robert Reimers Architect has actively incorporated elements of universal design into all his designs.  For housing, Reimers designs recognize that:


Physical changes in the land, objects set away from the walking path and space for wheel chairs are part of a universal design.
Contrasting walls and trims and recessed doors are just part of accommodating the visually impaired.

Universal Design

  • includes accessible and barrier-free designs that work; such as gentle ramps
  • is not assistive technology; although technology like automatic doors openers should be included on main doorways
  • avoids clinical images, use of durable medical equipment, and special features
  • includes some adaptable or adjustable features; such as shelf heights or pantry units
  • seeks and uses consumer products that are universally usable and commonly available; the height of plugs and window sills are good examples  
  • makes houses easier and safer for everyone to use through their lifespan
  • anticipates future needs; even if initially the resident can't see those needs, for example - enough space in the bathroom for a laundry hamper means future maneuvering room for a walker
  • supports the philosophy of independent living, home health care, and aging- in-place; every towel rack should be a grab bar
  • consultation with the client is imperative

 


In commercial spaces the same principles apply.  By creating seating areas that are missing a seat, a wheelchair is welcomed.  By creating an gentle entry ramp with a planter box a space is created to display a corporate logo.  By selecting hardware carefully, such as using "d" pulls both staff and customers can experience ease of access.

Robert Reimers Architect is dedicated to improving elements of design so that the optimum universal design can be achieved.  Find out about The Role of the Architect in the Community-Based Life Lease Project.

 


Turning radiuses in a design are important to accommodate wheel chairs and other aids.
 
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