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Liveable Housing – an MSA focus area – part two

toy house
14 November 2016

We recently explored the link between house design and wellbeing - how good design of space and surroundings can provide independence and make a tangible difference to how we feel.  

We referenced some exciting projects with a ‘liveable housing’ focus – new and underway - with smart, tailored design features such as adjustable benches, wider parking spaces and clever electronic devices.

Universal (or Liveable) Housing Design means designing homes to meet someone’s changing needs across their lifetime and is a great concept.

The proposed national ‘Liveable Housing Design Guidelines by 2020’ will offer accessible, practical accommodation options to communities, including we believe, for people living with MS. As reported in our last piece, we’re pleased that supposed delays to implementation of these guidelines is a hot national news topic.

Meanwhile, like others, we look forward to the government’s response to the ‘Review of the Access to Premises Standards’ outcomes – these national standards help to improve access, safety (and comfort) of new and upgraded buildings, and reflect expectations of equity and fairness.

Given the rapid pace of commercial and domestic construction, it’s important that legal and regulatory frameworks also keep pace, and governments at all levels, find ways to facilitate liveable housing for everyone.

Design, space and wellbeing has been the subject of conferences (check out the incredible window within a window!) and other events, business, and a focus for innovative housing projects such as the Summer Foundation’s ‘Hunter Demonstration Project’ [Hunter region, NSW] - its target audience being people aged 21-55 including those with MS, seeking to develop capacity for more independent living (see pages 9 to 19). It’s great to see various organisations in the liveable housing/universal design space already embed access principles in their projects, for example:

Architecture & Access (Adelaide/Brisbane/Melbourne)
Described as a specialist consultant for the built environment – creating safe and accessible community facilities, workplaces and homes for people with disability. Architecture & Access work with governments, architects, designers and the building industry and private clients.

Environarc (South Australia)
Amongst its building design services Environarc offers what it refers to as, accessible design and disability access assessment. We were also interested to note the Managing Director has MS.

Visionary Design Development (VDD) (Melbourne/National/International)
VDD describes itself as, passionate about making the world an equitably accessible place and removing barriers. They believe that improving the accessibility of the built environment, for all, is where they can best contribute to this goal. To assist other practitioners achieve accessible building environments, VDD encourages collaborations. Amongst its services they offer expertise in inclusive infrastructure and diverse spaces.

A recent Architecture and Design piece on ‘designing for life’ may be of interest to people living with conditions such as MS. The article mentions various agencies and organisations in the access or ‘Universal Design’ space, and clever ideas including large light and power switches, drawers in place of cupboards and flat shower floors.

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Disclaimer: A not-for-profit organisation, MSA has no financial affiliation with the companies mentioned in this piece. Rather, our objective is to provide some examples of companies working in the Liveable Housing space. Visionary Design Development contributed to our Universal Housing Design Position Statement.