Incorporating Universal Design into Home Building
- La Casa Accessible
- ONCE Foundation
- Country of Implementation
- Western Europe
- Start Year
- First published
“People with disabilities want to experience the same things as all people, but they don’t want products designed specifically for them.” —Jesús Hernández Galán, Director of Universal Accessibility and Innovation, Fundación ONCE
Fundación ONCE, a leading Spanish foundation with a focus on disabilities, has created a smart, accessible, and sustainable house-prototype to demonstrate the possibilities of constructing and equipping a home that meets a variety of disability needs. The house, which can be towed by a lorry, was designed to address issues of accessibility, security, energy, and communications. In 2016–2017 the house, along with a team of demonstrators, travelled some 20,000 kilometres throughout Spain to show the public, building professionals, and public officials the various ways that they can incorporate Universal Design into their work. More than 70,000 people visited the house on its national journey.
Architecture and design professionals often do not take account of Universal Design when creating homes because this is not normally incorporated into standard training.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The project consists of a specially-designed extendable trailer that mimics a family home, with an internal area of 140m² that is accessible for people with a variety of disabilities or reduced mobility. The home, which includes a kitchen, bedroom, living room, and bathroom, incorporates a range of intelligent devices and technologies that solve accessibility problems throughout. Features include touch lamps, fall detectors, adjustable-height wash basins, and automated blinds. A team of demonstrators provide guided tours and answer questions, and additional solutions are displayed via screens. The home targets professionals in the public and administration sector and those responsible for developing policies on accessibility, security, and sustainability. More than 70,000 people have visited the facility, and devices associated with the house were presented at a workshop on accessibility products and services at the European Commission in February 2017.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Funding was provided by Real Patronato de la Discapacidad (the Royal Board on Disability), with the project costing €550,000 over two years, including build and touring costs. The accessible home is no longer touring, but variations of the technology and model continue to be exhibited as example rooms at fairs in Spain, such as the Salón Inmobiliario Internacional de Madrid (Spanish Real Estate Exhibition) and the Barcelona Building Construmat. The model has proven to be influential across Spain and therefore has strong potential for replication in other European cities and towns. Notably, during the initial tour several cities requested the home to be brought to their locations.