Interest in universal design for homes has been increasing as the global population gets older. This trend shows no sign of abating. Baby boomers with funds to spare will increase this move toward universal design as they look to build their retirement homes with the hope of aging in place. Simple supply and demand economic factors may create a “universal design building boom.” North Carolina State University’s Center for Universal Design even offers college classes on the subject, and their site hosts variety of information and downloads for those interested in specifics.
Universal Design Living Laboratory, a husband and wife venture working to build a national demonstration home and garden, is projected to complete construction of a new, universally designed home that will double as both a home for the couple and as a model for the construction industry, architects, consumers and others.
Here is the home at the writing of this post, pic via their “site cam”:
The motivation for this project began accidentally, when a tree fell on Rosemarie Rossetti, paralyzing her from the waist down. Her initial response to the injury was typical of anyone facing such an injury: fear, anger, frustration, etc.; however, this was compounded by further frustration when she returned home, unable to get around in her home the way she had: unable to easily get to the 2nd floor, the basement, or reach dishes in the cupboards. Modifications were made, but modifications to an existing home only go so far, not as far as designing a home from the ground up for accessibility.
A universally designed home is built from the ground up to accommodate people of all abilities and incorporates design elements like:
- Smooth ground/floor surfaces
- Single story living
- Wide doors and hallways
- Lever door handles
- Kitchen counters accessible at wheelchair height
- Large light switches
- Front loading washer and dryers
Beyond designing their new demonstration home for universal accessibility, they intend to have the home LEED certified, a green building certification system that assesses energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, indoor air quality and stewardship of resources.
Visit their site: www.udll.com and click on their Site Cam link to see the home as it nears completion.