Ethical Property open their most accessible office space in Bristol
The vision for Streamline, our newest Bristol office space, was to make a modern and accessible centre with facilities that catered for those with a wide-range of disabilities, health conditions or impairments.
Fortunately, the shell of the building that we purchased was already built to modern building regulations for accessibility and had level access throughout with a lift to all floors. The biggest challenge we faced was ensuring we met building regulations as well as best practice, as there is quite a large difference between the two, with building regulations not as being up-to-date in terms of accessibility. Our Property Manager, David Fells, tells us that he purchased a copy of the RIBA “designing for accessibility” guide which he used for reference during the project.
Having the input of WECIL and Interaction was invaluable and they were great at helping us achieve our aims, especially when it came to suppliers and contractors who did not have much experience in making accessible spaces. Although it might be difficult to class any building as fully accessible - as different individuals have different requirements – we have tried to create a building that avoids many of the most common errors. We were also mindful in catering for wheelchair users as well as for staff and visitors who are ambulant disabled, blind, or deaf.
A few of the features which Streamline has that makes it accessible are:
|• High levels of colour contrasting between walls and floors and fittings (such as light switches)||• Large manifestation on glazed walls to aid the visually impaired|
|• Level access throughout||• Accessible toilets on all floors|
|• Large font way-finder signs||• Ambulant disabled toilets on all floors|
|• Visual beacons on the fire alarm||• Accessible showers on the Ground and 1st floors|
|• Powered doors to all communal spaces||• Colour contrasting stair-nosing and extra-large nosings on the top steps to make it clear where the stairs start|
|• Intercom at accessible height||• Fob access system (much easier to use than keys)|
|• Section of tea-point work surface set to accessible height with clear space beneath for wheelchair access||• Intercom system with visual prompts on a display screen|
|• Hearing loops in the meeting rooms|
Accessibility should always be important in any building design – hopefully, in time, building regulations will catch up and make it easier for everyone to make their buildings more accessible. Where the buildings allow us to, we aim to make all our centres as accessible as possible.