One of the salient areas that an architect needs to contend with when designing house plans in Kenya is with regard to designing for the physically challenged. Ensuring that a building has sufficient functionality for those who are handicapped means creating buildings that cater for their needs, allowing them to live as freely as anyone else.
It is important for house plans in Kenya to demonstrate proper sensitivity to the plight of those who are physically challenged. Having a physical handicap can make simple processes of life more complicated, simply because one may not have the same levels of mobility or sensory acuity as normal.
Physical handicaps range from deformities to limbs caused by medical or genetic conditions, to sensory deficiencies such as lack of sight or hearing. This makes the physically challenged person suffer the disadvantage of not being able to move, touch or see things as easily as the next.
All to often, an architect may conceive a facility that is supposed to serve the masses, but fails to take cognizance of the special needs of the physically disabled. This results in a very special section of the society being excluded from freely accessing a built facility.
This can be tragic in the case of house plans in Kenya being constructed for a user who later suffers a debilitating disease or accident. The very nature of the building would exclude them from accessing their home easily.
Two areas that house plans in Kenya need to be made responsive to the physically challenged is with regard to their movement, and with regard to their reach. In short, they must be able to circulate freely and reach things easily.
House plans in Kenya must be responsive to movement of the physically disabled.
The disabled person is faced with the challenge of being able to live and work within the built environment, and needs to be able to move between these spaces as naturally as possible. It is not sustainable to have to depend on another human being for this kind of movement unless in extremely serious cases. In this regard, a disabled person must be facilitated to be able to operate as much as possible under their own volition and ability.
Vertical circulation between levels of a building often present the most distinct challenge for the physically disabled person who is non-ambulant. Movement for a person on a wheelchair or crutches for example may prove quite challenging when a change in levels occurs in a building. In storied buildings where functions are located in several floors, what may be straightforward to most poses a formidable challenge to the physically challenged.
This can be resolved by ensuring that common access from the outside caters for the physically challenged. This is achievable through the use of ramps or special hoist vehicles that are able to raise a non-ambulant individual into a building. Once inside the building at the ground floor level, one is able to access lift cars that will take them to whichever level of the building that they may desire to go and work from.
Within the home, this may be slightly harder to achieve, unless say in serviced apartments. However the creative use of ramps and change in levels even from the outside can give a non-ambulant user options to get to higher or lower levels of a building naturally.
Corridors and passageways within these buildings need to be created wide enough to allow a disabled individual use their appliances without undue difficulty. Negotiation of wheelchairs along the corridors of a house can be troublesome if the said house has not been properly designed to accommodate this kind of movement.
Doors and openings to rooms need to also be wide enough to allow users to enter them without getting stuck, or having difficulty wheeling a chair past.
Spaces within house plans in Kenya need to accommodate the physically challenged.
Toilets and washrooms can be especially difficult to use for the physically challenged, especially those who are non-ambulant. The use of toilet facilities that allow a disabled individual to easily position himself or herself without the intervention of others goes a long way in ensuring their dignity remains intact. The provision of facilities that allow the user to clean themselves easily is also a useful initiative when constructing house plans in Kenya.
In this case, use of fittings that are lower than the normal, or can be repositioned can be beneficial to the disabled. Some moveable washbasins allow physically challenged individuals to be able to reach water faucets and wash tops much easier, allowing them to wash up much easier than if they would have required other intervention.
Bathrooms and toilets offer some of the toughest challenges for the non-ambulant physically challenged individuals. The process of washing up or changing requires one to have to sit down to undress, or step into a bathtub or shower that is raised. The best solution for these fittings is to ensure that they are adequately provided with an adjacent handle or support bars that are firmly fixed to the walls adjacent to these fittings. These will ensure that the disabled user has a means of supporting themselves when getting onto or off of a toilet or bathtub, and onto their wheelchair.
Furniture arrangements within living spaces need to take cognizance of the physically disabled. Having extremely tight spaces with packed items of furniture close to each other will render these spaces useless to the physically disabled person. Therefore, the suggested furniture layouts within house plans in Kenya that are designed to be responsive to the physically disabled must be more spacious and easy to maneuver through.
Fittings that are usable by the physically challenged need to be simple to manipulate, yet safe enough for common use. For example door handles and latches need to be easy to reach and open. Some special taps use simple handle mechanisms that can be easily manipulated. Special fittings have been designed for most purposes, which can be used in normal house plans in Kenya that have been designed to cater for the physically challenged.
Using these tips, an architect can ensure that the less fortunate and physically disabled live in accessible and comfortable house plans in Kenya.