Designer renovations trend is confirmed – recent survey.

85% of respondents want to improve functionality.

A great home relaxes you and informs you that you are protected and secure in your comfort zone. A home that doesn’t function well creates emotional conflict and anxt as you attempt to traverse all those niggling work arounds you dislike about your present circumstances.

A good designer is empathic to your lifestyle, that is, the designer understands how you relax, entertain, feel safe, need your own space and that designer appreciates what kind of private spaces you need, personally, to face your next challenge outside your home – outside your comfort zone.

A good home takes you on a journey from your arrival to your most private spaces. It takes your visitors from arrival to a sense of wonder and intrigue… they want to see more, but your home specially prevents them from seeing it all, unless of course invited, and then it unfolds from space to space, thrilling your guest at each stage. A good home lets you decide what experience guests/visitors have and the degree of revelation permitted.

How can we assist you to improve the functionality of your home? 

What I like to do is to try and ensure that your design permits a relaxed flow of spaces from entry/public spaces to your private and recreation spaces, whether inside or outside. Taking advantage of a variety of spaces is the key here so that, should you need to, an individual can escape the household without feeling locked up in, say a bedroom with 4 walls, a window and a door. A relaxed flow of spaces, by chance or by design, also provide for the most accessible of spaces for a person with a disability. This is what can be achieved by removing the barriers to every day life.

Read the full article at: Australian homeowner survey reveals renovation desires and designer demand

Source: Sydney Access Consultants

Group Home designs for people with disabilities

A dwelling for people with carers.

This type of domestic architecture accommodates a group of unrelated people rather than a family unit and can therefore be public as well as private housing. The building type can include highly specialised solutions to accommodate staff and residents in a safe, inclusive environment for respite, temporary or permanent occupation.

The building type came about from a shift in attitude that attempts to remove the institutionalised model in favour of purpose made dwellings that are interspersed within the community and the encouragement of community interaction. With the closure of large hospital style institutions many people in care found htemselves inappropriately placed in accommodation meant for aged car, so a federal government devolution program was instigated to ensure adequate localised care, by local community members that was targeted to the specific needs of those people in care, from the surrounding precinct.

Typically, a group home consists of about 5 residents who are provided with the level care that they, as individuals, need. Usually, there are full time staff in attendance who usually operate on a shift work basis. This provides an interesting twist to design requirements because the development is a house for some and a workplace for others. In terms of design, consideration has to be given to the health and well being of both staff and residents, to their safety and security, as well as being capable of engaging the families and visitors of residents.

At times, some residents may exhibit behavioural issues and the peculiar characteristics of residents, who may have any number of diagnosed medical, emotional and conditional needs must be considered. Care givers use management procedures to ensure the required outcomes are met, however, there is a great deal that the Architect can do to reduce risks and improve manageability. 

Buildings are designed for location in typical suburban residential neighbourhoods and consideration has to be given for reducing any potential loss of amenity on the immediate neighbours caused by reason of the group home. Many of these are designed out by providing a range of internal and external spaces in which to engage residents in a way that does not impact on the immediate neighbours.

FS Architects have designed over forty group homes each designed for particular occupants in mind, each with attributes particular to the residents and carers, but designed in such a way to accommodate the unknown future occupants, and all capable of functioning as a family home should the group home function become redundant.

If you would like to discuss group home design in detail, contact the architect principal.

Source: Sydney Access Consultants

Architect’s advice: What is inclusive design? RIBA Series Part 1/7

This film is intended to be a highly useful tool for student and practicing architects/designers, planners, clients and others involved in the built environment.

The role and relationship of the architects, the client, the user advisors, access consultants, and other members of the design team are examined in the film (clips 1 to 7). The film provides viewers with differing practical examples of inclusive design.

The film features three projects:

1.The Roundhouse in London, a Grade 2 Listed building, refurbished as a public Arts venue.

2.The Eden Project, in Cornwall, a well known, large-scale and complex visitor attraction.

3.And the Willows, in Wolverhampton, a new school under construction, that will bring together the population of a primary school, a special needs school, and a community facility on one integrated site.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Source: Sydney Access Consultants

Universal Design – What does that mean?

We suggest that there are seven key elements to Universal Design.

  • A design that is equitable
  • A design that is flexible enough to accommodate our differences
  • A design that is simple and intuitive
  • A design that is perceptible and informative
  • A design that minimises errors
  • A designed product that requires low physical effort
  • A design providing appropriate size and space.


Universal designs express the same meaning regardless of a person’s ability, for instance, the main pedestrian entrance to a building, means, the main entrance to a building, regardless of a person’s ability.


A universal design accommodates the widest group of individual’s preferences and abilities, and it does this by providing a range choices, rather than simply applying the statistical averages. For example, left and right handed automated teller machines.


A universal design is complicated design by reason of its inherently designed simplicity. It is a design that is purposefully easy to apprehend regardless of the end user’s experience, knowledge, language skills or concentration levels. Universal signage is a reasonable example of simplicity.


Universal design communicates the necessary information available to the user, regardless of the user’s abilities, for instance, TGSI’s can be used to indicate a hazard, or entry doors can be activated by voice or movement, with appropriately intuitive configurations inherent in the design informing the user of those capabilities.

Low susceptibility to Error

Universal designs seek to reduce the potential for error by providing fail safe alternatives, for instance a bell button on a lift or button operated automated doors.


A universal design can be used effectively and comfortably while minimising fatigue, for instance, providing rest spots on stairways, access ways and ramps, as well as handrails for assistance.


Universal designs provide size and space proportions to each user regardless of their body size, posture or mobility. Widened doorways being a simple instance of this technique.

Source: Sydney Access Consultants