Human beings are always considered to be the starting point for various construction projects; their needs and interests should always be the center of each successful design. At the same time, considerations should be given to activities and surrounding environment to ensure that buildings can be both accessible and usable.
The accessibility and usability requirements for constructions were introduced in 1977 by the National Housing Board and have evolved since then. The requirements are still developing to achieve homes that are accessible and useable, especially for people with disabilities. They have also been tightened in particular concerning the design of new construction and alteration of buildings.
Gavlegårdarna have, in 2012, built new residential apartments with high accessibility standards. The apartments in Gävle Strand, Stage 2 are located in an area next to the sea and offer new opportunities for a modern way of living. Considering the new residential area of Gävle Strand, this case study focuses on the accessibility standards concerning three categories of disabilities: limited mobility, limited vision and limited hearing. The case study examines three selected apartments with different living area. The purpose of the case study is to assess the accessibility and usability of the apartments. This is done through an inventory using a wheelchair, taking a walking tour while blindfolded and using a cane. Before the assessment of the apartments' requirements, an inventory list of respective apartments was prepared. The list is based on regulations, laws and recommendations from Building Regulations and Swedish Standard.
The results of the case study categorize the apartments in two levels: normal- and high level accessibility. Spaces and details that are considered to have high accessibility have externally contrast markings including the entrances and stairways. Inside, the apartments are well planned for enhanced usability and there are spacious areas where a wheelchair can move without any difficulty.
The conclusion shows that all apartments meet the requirements at normal level which is the minimum level of accessibility and usability. Despite the general assessment of the apartments’ well-planned design, the study finds flaws in the form of a cramped bathrooms and high thresholds to the balcony doors. Finally, in order to achieve high availability the case study presents improvements and measures that need to be changed to the presented deficiencies.