Converting Buildings and Apartments for Disabled People

When doing new building projects, we do not often consider the needs of disabled people, so it is frequently necessary to convert existing residential units into appropriate apartments. A suitable building must have a generous floor area and offer simple opportunities for alteration in accordance with the occupant’s needs.

 

Converted an apartment for disabled people

Converted an apartment for disabled people

 

The conversion measures required can include:

    1. Alterations to the plan, including building work (which is limited by structural considerations and the construction & floor area type)
    2. Alterations to services, bathroom and kitchen fittings, etc.
    3. Supplementary measures, such as the installation of ramps, lifts and additional electrical equipment.

 

You must also pay attention to access from the street, any floor coverings which require changing and the creation of a car parking space suitable for wheelchair users.

The extent of the alterations depends on:

  1. The degree of disability of the resident
  2. The specific activity within the apartment.

 

One and two-room apartment conversion for disabled people

One and two-room apartment conversion for disabled people

 

So, the conversion measures will often be specified in conjunction with the disabled person and tailored to his or her needs.

Before we begin converting anything, the plan and structure of the existing apartment must be examined carefully. Ground floor apartments of an adequate size are particularly suitable because additional services (passing through the basement) can be installed much more cheaply and entrance modifications are easier.

Studio apartment for disabled people

Studio apartment for disabled people

 

Here is the extent of conversion works based on three groups of disabled people, each with corresponding requirements:

  • Disabled members of a family who go to work or school outside the home.
    Alterations in this case relate to access to the house/apartment, furnishings and provision of sufficient freedom of movement in the living and sleeping areas, and specially adapted facilities in the bathroom/WC.
  • Disabled persons who carry out household tasks.
    Additional alterations must be made to the kitchen and elsewhere to simplify work in the home.
  • Severely disabled persons who are only partially independent, if at all, and thus require permanent care.
    Extra space must be provided for maneuvering wheelchairs. Facilities to aid the work of caretakers should be added too. Note that self-propelled wheelchairs require most space.

    Two-room apartment 54 and 60 for disabled people

    Two-room apartment 54 and 60 for disabled people

 

While apartments for the elderly are no larger than standard apartments (any changes consisting only of adjusting door width and tailoring the functional areas), living areas for disabled people need to be increased appropriately, particularly for wheelchair users and the visually impaired. Also, you should not forget to modify the bathroom with WC suitable for wheelchair users.

Recommended values for habitable areas are:

  • 40 – 50 m2 for a one-person household
  • 50 – 55 m2 for two people.
example apartment areas before and after conversion

example apartment areas before and after conversion

 

Three and four-room apartment for disabled people

Three and four-room apartment for disabled people

 

This “Converting Buildings and Apartments for Disabled People” is taken from the book Architects’ Data written by Ernst and Peter Neufert, whereas this book has become the guideline for architecture college students in the world.

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