Accessibility in Architecture [Everything You Need to Know]

Aurimas Pocius

Aurimas Pocius

CEO of ArchVisualizations 3D Studio working in 3D property rendering market from 2011.

Accessibility in Architecture

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Do you know what accessibility is in architecture? Accessibility in architecture means designing and constructing buildings and slots that people with disabilities can use and access easily and independently. 

In this way, architects can go far over and above mere conformity with the codes and regulations of building. Moreover, they can also focus on making surroundings that involve a vast circle of people in different productive activities. 

Accessibility in architecture plays a valuable role in empowerment, and provide the circumstances that are not only favorable but respectful of the dignity of human beings. The main purpose of accessibility in architecture is to exclude physical hurdles and provide equal opportunities for those people who are versatile in abilities to maneuver, collaborate, and involve completely in the built surroundings.

Significance of Accessibility in Architecture

Designers work hard to make sure that all users can access a building or space without facing any difficulty. The reason behind so much effort is just to create a balance between the needs of individual users and those of other users. 

To make you understand it completely, let’s just take an example, there is a person who is wheeling a stroller. He may have demands that must be balanced with those of a person in a wheelchair and vice versa. 

As a consequence, the adaptive design facilitates the creation of accessible places and goods for a wide range of people, such as those with disabilities or chronic illnesses. 

Have you ever imagined the power that architecture has? Architecture has the potential to genuinely make inclusive settings that give a free hand to people with disabilities. So that they can carry out many essential everyday tasks on their own without help from others. 

In this context, technology can play a major role when it gets integrated into the architecture. It improves the accessibility for all users in the places in which they live.

Nonetheless, there are situations in which intent and supply are insufficient in the context of accessibility in architecture. Most of the time, the greatest place to start is becoming aware of this gap that currently exists in the business. 

However, when the case of accessibility in architecture comes in to account, there are many situations where intent and supply are not sufficient at all. So, it you want to fill this existing gap in your society, always remember that awareness of this shortcoming is not only necessary but it is the best way to begin most of the time.


Here are some important and basic principles of accessible architecture in the following:

Universal Design

As the name suggests it is the design that is useful and accessible for everyone. Universal design is a basic principle that holds dominance over accessible architecture. It covers the creation of surroundings, goods, and locations that everyone can use, without the limitation of their age, size, or ability.

It means that you can perform the activities that you want to do with the help of the feature of universal design irrespective of how old you are or what is the measurement of your height.

Physical Accessibility 

In an accessible architecture, you will find many interesting features like ramps, elevators, enlarged entrances, and accessible restrooms. These are the features that take limitations of physical mobility into account. 

The feature of physical mobility helps those people who are suffering from abnormalities in their limbs and can’t move like normal persons. It makes it possible for them to not only just move but carry out most of their usual and special activities on their own.

Sensory Considerations

These features meet the demands of people who are suffering from sensory impairments such as aural signals, tactile indicators, and visual clues.

This is a great achievement of science and technology that persons who are suffering from sensory impairments can now also make a difference in their society. These features support such people to perform tasks just like normal individuals.

Way-finding and Orientation 

There was a time when blind persons couldn’t move on long and new ways on their own but that time has gone to its end now. Accessibility in architecture gives the individuals that have cognitive or visual impairments the opportunity to explore ways for themselves.

They can navigate areas independently with the assistance of clear signage, color contrast, and user-friendly layouts.

Ergonomics and Comfort of Users

This feature keeps the ease and comfort of users as a priority which is another admirable principle of accessibility in architecture. The effective and accessible design takes into account the comfort and usefulness of areas with movable furniture, flexible workstations, and suitable levels of lighting. 

Inclusive Social Spaces

Accessible architecture fosters the involvement of more and more people in social activities by creating environments that facilitate communication, cooperation, and participation among individuals with and without disabilities.

Persistent Participation and Advice

It is essential that people with disabilities and pertinent stakeholders participate in the phases of design and decision-making. Everyone must get a chance to show interest and participate in the field of their desire. It guarantees that the requirements of accessibility are satisfied properly. 

If you alter the fitting or existing structures and renovate them to make them more accessible to the users, it is the second name of accessible architecture. Moreover, you cannot just restrict it to new construction but it covers many more.

You should work by adopting the principles of accessible architecture in your profession because it will put a lot of contribution in the possibility that you may design constructed environments. These are environments that uphold the dignity, equality, and independence of every person, irrespective of their abilities or impairments. 

Accessibility and Social Participation

Some people who suffer from abnormalities and impairments have experienced a number of complications in their physical surroundings. This issue is more particular in the people who are living in developing countries and don’t have adequate facilities available to them. 

Due to these accouterments, people face difficulties in practicing many tasks completely and getting engaged in different civil, artistic, and professional activities on equal terms with the remaining society.  

So, the aim behind this accessibility in architecture is to: 

  • Give strength to self-dependence and promote an environment that bears no barrier in the activities of the public. It is very important for a society to be free of any barriers so that people with impairments and disabilities can participate in social activities. 
  • The public must have an access to a calm and smooth surrounding as it is a vital element of social involvement for those who have any kind of disability. It will let them frequently move, participate and get engaged in productive activities. This is very essential and a genuine need to make a broad and dynamic society. 
  • It not only fulfills the deficiency of movements for communities who are going through physical challenges but the whole society, such as older people in a short-term condition where movement is very less, and children among others, benefit from improved accessibility.
  • For people who live in these situations, accessibility to architecture enhances the pleasure of their lives, self-esteem, and cognitive abilities. 
  • It has the ability to significantly raise the standard of public health. Accessible design techniques can help people and organizations by increasing output, encouraging innovation, and facilitating people’s participation in their communities.
  • Accessibility in architecture enhances the pleasure of life, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem for those who live in these environments. 
  • It has the ability to make a significant raise in the quality of public health. The technique of accessible design can help people and organizations by increasing output. 
  • It encourages innovation and facilitates the participation of people in their communities.

The Duty of Architects

Architects have been going through a lot of efforts to establish awareness about impairment, and so the increase of framework that supports them to move from the places of living, educational institutes, and healthcare facilities. 

The Laurent House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is one such example of architect. Decades ahead of any guidelines about documented accessibility, a Usonian mansion was a trailblazer.

In 1946, while trying to remove a tumor from his spine, doctors accidentally severed a nerve, leaving 26-year-old World War II veteran Ken Laurent paraplegic from the waist down. 

Ken spent the next few years in a rehab facility outside of Chicago; his new difficult lifestyle quickly made weekends spent at home uncomfortable. When designing the facility, architect Wright prioritized the comfort and well-being of people with impairments by designing it with accessibility in mind. 

This program was launched many years before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. Wright paved the way for the advancement of the conversation on accessibility. 


The Laurent Home, which has been a residential building since 1952, is about to become a museum. Forty years after Laurent House was finished, the architect Rem Koolhaas created Maison Bordeaux, another inclusive home. 

The project managed to maintain its general appeal despite its unique features, such as its use of numerous levels in the building and the settings of its picturesque atop a hill overlooking the city. It not only offers accessibility to straightforward wheelchairs throughout all three floors, but the elevator, having the size of a room, also functions as an office. 


Architects don’t just build buildings; they also organize events, like one in 2013, to spread awareness about accessible architecture. Through an auction of “Miniature Buildings,” architects such as Zaha Hadid Architects, Adjaye Associates, MODELS, and others donated funds for charitable causes. They designed and displayed small dwellings at the exhibition.

It is quite remarkable that these architects, who are skilled at working on enormous scales on a daily basis, could join together and dedicate their time to creating these tiny homes. It establishes a brand-new architectural genre known as “dollhouse architecture.” 

Celebrating The Landscape Of Accessibility In Architecture

If there is an increase in the social awareness and expectations of users for public space that meets appropriate spatial standards, it will lead to increased volumes of facilities and locations provided with objects for people with special needs.

These are basically the architecture of street furniture landscape and mechanical devices that are positioned at locations with varying entrances of elevations and buildings. If you study the examples of a school and a residence, you will be able to vividly understand these inclusions. 

Education And Awareness For Accessibility In Architecture

You have seen the two examples of a school and a residence above, and both of them make it clear which factor the accessibility of a design depends on. It not only depends on conformance to standards but also on the factor of how much understanding and consideration the designer has for end users. It is very important to raise awareness of accessibility and disability among the public. 

Moreover, impart such knowledge to planners, designers, landscape architects, architects, and other specialists. There are a number of strategies of design that they use to either develop defensive architecture or encourage accessibility in architecture. 

How to Raise Awareness?

There are many different methods by which a designer or an architect might raise the level of accessibility of a facility. In one method, they do this by employing a standardized language of the design. For a while, an architect can increase the ease and convenience of architecture by using a smooth language of design that incorporates a tactile graphic on the walls and floors. 

As another possible option, architects move wheelchairs in rooms by increasing dimensions and incorporating ramps and elevators. The language of a design is a set of materials, textures, and colors that an architect uses persistently throughout a design to make it clear which elements must go on which floor, where the position of doors are, and what aims are present. 

There is no question or doubt about the fact that the initiatives that are present to improve the accessibility in buildings are admirable.  However, it is the need of the time to work together and support one another to encourage, promote and integrate all kinds of users and work more towards the advancement of universal design and equality. After all, that is the very fundamental concept of what accessibility in architecture is all about.


Designers and architects are developing buildings and slots that everyone even people suffering from disabilities and abnormalities can reach easily. The term used for this approach is called accessibility in architecture. This accessibility broadens the circle of working applications of architects. 

Accessibility in architecture works on some basic principles that are made to facilitate the users to perform their activities easily and independently. These principles are universal design, physical accessibility, sensory considerations, way-finding and orientation, ergonomics and comfort of users, inclusive social spaces, and persistent participation and advice.

Accessibility in architecture promotes the social activities of people, especially those who suffer from any kind of impairment.


Q1. What is accessibility in design?

Accessibility in architecture or accessibility in design is a way of design in which the architects and designers keep the necessities of people who are suffering from any kind of disabilities on priority. The term accessibility is often used for the factor that people with different kinds of disabilities can independently use products, services, and facilities.

Q2. Why is building accessibility important?

It is very necessary to improve the facilities of accessibility in architecture because it not only makes ease for people with disabilities but also creates an environment that encourages the participation of more people in social activities. Architects can contribute to decreasing barriers and increasing independence by designing accessible buildings. It can give a sense of owning something great to people with disabilities. 

Q3. What is an example of accessibility?

You can get many examples of accessibility for people with disability in the design of buildings in developed countries. In multiple countries, there is an accessibility code of a building, that needs buildings be designed with accessibility in mind. The accessibility is necessary in some features of the building such as ramps,lifts, and accessible washrooms.

Accessibility in Architecture [Everything You Need to Know]

Article by
CEO of ArchVisualizations 3D Studio working in 3D property rendering market from 2011.

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Are you interested to do a 3D Rendering of your real estate project? Please contact us and we will do our best to help you.



Are you interested to do a 3D Rendering of your real estate project?

Please contact us and we will do our best to help you.

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