A Universal House
by Leslie C. Young and Rex J. Pace
As housing evolves over the next 15 to 20 years, it may be molded less by technological innovations than by demographic and marketing trends. "Universal design," a term coined by Ronald L. Mace, FAIA in the early 1980s, respects and strives to accommodate the broadest possible spectrum of human ability in the design of all products and environments.
Universal design goes beyond barrier-free concepts of the past and works to proactively address human needs within the mainstream. The next-generation universal house demonstrates how all people, those with and without disabilities, children, people as they age, can comfortably and conveniently share the same living space. Here are a few key design concepts.
Each entrance shown in the next-generation universal home is universally usable. Not only is this philosophically significant, but having more than one means of accessible egress is an important safety consideration. This house incorporates three different methods for creating universal entrances.
For each to be successful, some unconventional, although not necessarily difficult, construction details may be required. Creative landscaping can be an effective way to resolve differences in elevation between the exterior grade and interior floor level.
Using soil from excavation for the foundation or having additional soil brought onto the site allows the creation of an earth berm and bridge — a combination landscape and hardscape feature.
This article is excerpted from Universal Design Handbook, edited by Wolfgang F. E. Preiser and Elaine Ostroff, with permission of the publisher, The McGraw-Hill Companies.