Obvius Access

  Disability Access Consultants with a Balanced Approach

 

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Disability Design Audit 1970's

Original Design Team for First Leonard Cheshire/Sue Ryder Home in UK

By David Bedwell Director of OBVIUS ACCESS

whom whilst a consultant engineer practicing in the UK was part of the original design team which it is believed pioneered the design standards required for the special accommodation provided by this international charity for people with disabilities.

In 1973 there were many worthy charities in the UK some had been established for decades,

The combination of Leonard Cheshire and Sue Ryder introduced a design revolution to the provision of Accommodation for people with disabilities. What was that? You may say. Very simply it was the “New Build” provision of independent residential units where people with disabilities could be self-fending in every way totally independent.

The Leonard Cheshire Charity rapidly discovered that traditional existing construction design for accommodation was invariably unsuitable for people with disabilities. In depth research was instigated.

Leonard Cheshire and his friends recognized that conversion of existing properties whilst providing a level of design improvement invariably encountered structural and spatial limitations. Therefore together with Sue Ryder the decision to construct a purpose built “Block of Flats” latterly to become the Sue Ryder Home was conceived.

The Architectural Practice chosen in competition for the first ground breaking design was “Priestman Williams and Bennett” of Hitchin Hertfordshire England who commissioned David Bedwell and Partners as Building Services Consulting Engineers.

Primarily the accommodation was to relocate residents of existing homes into the new accommodation. The accommodation would be a mixture of single and double units with a warden and guest/visitor accommodation on site. In most cases the original residents were permanently wounded veterans of World War ll and their carers or family.

The requirements for totally safe external and internal Access and Egress to and from the Premises presented major challenges to the Design Team. It should be remembered this was almost 40 years ago.

The development of electric mobility aids was in its infancy. Lift manufactures constructed mostly to Customers Order. Infra-structure utilities required lengthy procurement periods. Only Standard Ranges of Sanitary Fittings existed from Manufacturers. Thresholds were Doorsteps seen essential to accommodate milk bottles as they would fall over and smash if a Ramp was built. Guide Dogs were very rare sights.

The Design Team undertook extensive research into the basic requirements of the potential new residents each one had a valuable contribution to make to the design requirements of the premises based upon their personal experiences and methodically a form of access auditing of the design requirements took place and a room by room schedule was compiled.

The Original Design Team helped to evolve principles of spatial awareness for future designers to follow.

They established Standards historically recognized as essential 40 years ago for Accessible Premises.

For Example the following

* Height of Electrical Switches and Worktops for Wheelchair users

* Need for Braille and tactile component aids to recognition

* Width of paths corridors and doorways to accommodate mobility devices and aids

* Larger than standard lift dimensions

* Visual and Audible Fire Alarms

* Protection by minimising exposed high temperature surfaces, radiators, pipes, cookers, kettles.

* Replacing Bathrooms with Accessible WC’s with temperature controlled Showers

Over the past 40 years these original Standards have been enhanced but there is still remains an enormous requirement for research, inventive thought, and implementation which is currently being provided by many worthy charities worldwide. Please help them in any way you can..                                                                                  

Obvius Access Consultants have been Consulting in Disabled Access since 2008.We are a family company with over 40 years experience in the consultancy industry. We are based on the Gold Coast of Australia and Sydney NSW

David Bedwell

For more information, visit www.accessconsultant.com.au

Source: http://www.accessconsultant.com.au

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