Wheelchair accessible living areas
In this post, we will explore the necessary requirements to design a wheelchair accessible living area. We will look at living spaces that will enable a wheelchair user to enjoy the spaces and be able to socialise with their friends and family. A living area that suitably accommodates a wheelchair user will be sized to allow for necessary circulation space, have a range of furniture, and provide accessible doors, windows and furniture.
For this post, we will look at living space as a living room, and explore the options for kitchens or kitchen/dining in a separate post. We will explore the regulations according to the Building Regulations Approved Documents, and consult other guidance documents in order to provide the most accessible, and suitable living space options for a wheelchair user.
Ideally we will locate the living area on the entrance level of the dwelling, an open plan design works well and allows wheelchair users to move easily between the spaces. If the living space is not open plan, it is optimal to provide convenient access to the kitchen and dining areas from the living space.
A long and narrow living room is less suitable to a wide living room which allows for good circulation through the space.
Requirements for a wheelchair accessible living area
- Living area should be on the entrance story of the dwelling.
- Access to living areas should be step free.
- The minimum floor area of the combined living, dining and kitchen space meets the provisions of the table below.
- A turning circle of min diameter 1500mm should be provided in the living area.
- Minimum furniture requirements for a living space in accordance with the table below.
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Design suggestions, guidance and good practice
- Consider arranging furniture to the perimeter of the living space to allow wheelchair users to circulate freely around the room.
- Make sure suitable space is available for the wheelchair user to transfer from wheelchair to chair, and also to approach and use furniture, like accessing shelving.
- Create unobstructed views to the outside from a seated position – ensuring window transoms are not obstructing sight lines.
- Window handles should be at a height that allow wheelchair users to easily open and close windows, and control the ventilation independently. Glazing must start at a maximum of 850mm above finished floor level, with one window having a handle between 700mm and 1000mm.
- Suggested minimum unobstructed living room width of 4m is good practice, with a regular shape and no awkward angles or corners.
- Provide 750mm (minimum but up to 1200mm preferable) wide clear routes between items, in front of windows and any routes between doors.