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Universal Design and Accessibility

Universal Design and Accessibility

  • The owners of this private residence in Newton, Mass., were able to build a home from scratch that allowed for accessibility and sustainability.

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    The owners of this private residence in Newton, Mass., were able to build a home from scratch that allowed for accessibility and sustainability.

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    Greg Premru Photography Inc.

    The owners of this private residence in Newton, Mass., were able to build a home from scratch that allowed for accessibility and sustainability.

  • LIVING ROOM

    Two sets of Lepage French doors with low-E argon-filled glass connect the living room to the screened porch and facilitate natural ventilation. For easy wheelchair access, the living room floor is at the same level as the screened porch and the doors were customized for a flush threshold. 877.289.0191. www.lepagemillwork.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD993%2Etmp_tcm131-1235921.jpg

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    Two sets of Lepage French doors with low-E argon-filled glass connect the living room to the screened porch and facilitate natural ventilation. For easy wheelchair access, the living room floor is at the same level as the screened porch and the doors were customized for a flush threshold. 877.289.0191. www.lepagemillwork.com.

    600

    Greg Premru Photography Inc.

    Two sets of Lepage French doors with low-E argon-filled glass connect the living room to the screened porch and facilitate natural ventilation. For easy wheelchair access, the living room floor is at the same level as the screened porch and the doors were customized for a flush threshold. 877.289.0191. www.lepagemillwork.com.

  • BREEZEWAY

    A wraparound porch connects the courtyard to the main entry, while the garage, at right, is detached but accessible by a covered walkway. Because the familys minivan often runs for long periods while the wheelchair lift system is operating, the owners wanted to ensure that pollutants from the car would not enter the home. A bluestone ramp and sloped path, at left, lead to the lower backyard.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD994%2Etmp_tcm131-1235925.jpg

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    A wraparound porch connects the courtyard to the main entry, while the garage, at right, is detached but accessible by a covered walkway. Because the familys minivan often runs for long periods while the wheelchair lift system is operating, the owners wanted to ensure that pollutants from the car would not enter the home. A bluestone ramp and sloped path, at left, lead to the lower backyard.

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    Greg Premru Photography Inc.

    A wraparound porch connects the courtyard to the main entry, while the garage, at right, is detached but accessible by a covered walkway. Because the family’s minivan often runs for long periods while the wheelchair lift system is operating, the owners wanted to ensure that pollutants from the car would not enter the home. A bluestone ramp and sloped path, at left, lead to the lower backyard.

  • STAIRS

    A three-level open riser stair crowned with remote-controlled Energy Star skylights from Velux brings daylighting and fresh air to the core of the home while exhausting unwanted heat. Thanks to ventilation from the skylight and an array of low-E argon-filled Lepage windows (U-factor: 0.29/SHGC: 0.22) , the owners rarely need to use air conditioning, according to architect Douglas Dick. Velux: 800.888.3589. www.veluxusa.com. Lepage: 877.289.0191. www.lepagemillwork.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD995%2Etmp_tcm131-1235931.jpg

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    A three-level open riser stair crowned with remote-controlled Energy Star skylights from Velux brings daylighting and fresh air to the core of the home while exhausting unwanted heat. Thanks to ventilation from the skylight and an array of low-E argon-filled Lepage windows (U-factor: 0.29/SHGC: 0.22) , the owners rarely need to use air conditioning, according to architect Douglas Dick. Velux: 800.888.3589. www.veluxusa.com. Lepage: 877.289.0191. www.lepagemillwork.com.

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    Greg Premru Photography Inc.

    A three-level open riser stair crowned with remote-controlled Energy Star skylights from Velux brings daylighting and fresh air to the core of the home while exhausting unwanted heat. Thanks to ventilation from the skylight and an array of low-E argon-filled Lepage windows (U-factor: 0.29/SHGC: 0.22) , the owners rarely need to use air conditioning, according to architect Douglas Dick. Velux: 800.888.3589. www.veluxusa.com. Lepage: 877.289.0191. www.lepagemillwork.com.

  • MUDROOM

    Equipped with an automatic door opener, a wheelchair charging station, and a durable ceramic floor, the mudroom is the main point of entry for all family members. Residents and visitors store shoes here to avoid tracking mud inside as a way to reduce indoor contaminants. In addition, a nearby outdoor faucet allows for easy cleaning of wheelchair tires.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD996%2Etmp_tcm131-1235937.jpg

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    Equipped with an automatic door opener, a wheelchair charging station, and a durable ceramic floor, the mudroom is the main point of entry for all family members. Residents and visitors store shoes here to avoid tracking mud inside as a way to reduce indoor contaminants. In addition, a nearby outdoor faucet allows for easy cleaning of wheelchair tires.

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    Greg Premru Photography Inc.

    Equipped with an automatic door opener, a wheelchair charging station, and a durable ceramic floor, the mudroom is the main point of entry for all family members. Residents and visitors store shoes here to avoid tracking mud inside as a way to reduce indoor contaminants. In addition, a nearby outdoor faucet allows for easy cleaning of wheelchair tires.

  • DINING ROOM

    The custom-designed sideboard is topped with EcoTop surfacing, made of an FSC-certified 50/50 blend of bamboo fiber and recycled wood fiber salvaged from demolition sites, bound together by a water-based resin that is free of petroleum and VOCs. 253.904.8608. www.kliptech.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD997%2Etmp_tcm131-1235940.jpg

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    The custom-designed sideboard is topped with EcoTop surfacing, made of an FSC-certified 50/50 blend of bamboo fiber and recycled wood fiber salvaged from demolition sites, bound together by a water-based resin that is free of petroleum and VOCs. 253.904.8608. www.kliptech.com.

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    Greg Premru Photography Inc.

    The custom-designed sideboard is topped with EcoTop surfacing, made of an FSC-certified 50/50 blend of bamboo fiber and recycled wood fiber salvaged from demolition sites, bound together by a water-based resin that is free of petroleum and VOCs. 253.904.8608. www.kliptech.com.

  • KITCHEN

    The large, open kitchen, the central hub of the home, reflects the projects focus on modern but warm interior design. The family-friendly space offers sustainable touches: locally manufactured concrete countertops and GE Energy Star appliances. 800.626.2005. www.geappliances.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD998%2Etmp_tcm131-1235942.jpg

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    The large, open kitchen, the central hub of the home, reflects the projects focus on modern but warm interior design. The family-friendly space offers sustainable touches: locally manufactured concrete countertops and GE Energy Star appliances. 800.626.2005. www.geappliances.com.

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    Greg Premru Photography Inc.

    The large, open kitchen, the central hub of the home, reflects the project’s focus on modern but warm interior design. The family-friendly space offers sustainable touches: locally manufactured concrete countertops and GE Energy Star appliances. 800.626.2005. www.geappliances.com.

  • BREAKFAST NOOK

    The kitchen also features universal touches, such as the custom-made table for wheelchair seating in the breakfast nook.

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    The kitchen also features universal touches, such as the custom-made table for wheelchair seating in the breakfast nook.

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    Greg Premru Photography Inc.

    The kitchen also features universal touches, such as the custom-made table for wheelchair seating in the breakfast nook.

  • EXTERIOR

    Locally sourced FSC-certified eastern white cedar shingles from Maibec, broad covered porches, and deep roof overhangs add to the homes farmhouse look. DuPont Tyvek HomeWrap protects against wind and rain while sealing the home to help it stay dry, cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. Maibec: 800.363.1930. www.maibec.com/en.  DuPont: 800.448.9835. www2.dupont.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD99A%2Etmp_tcm131-1235950.jpg

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    Locally sourced FSC-certified eastern white cedar shingles from Maibec, broad covered porches, and deep roof overhangs add to the homes farmhouse look. DuPont Tyvek HomeWrap protects against wind and rain while sealing the home to help it stay dry, cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. Maibec: 800.363.1930. www.maibec.com/en. DuPont: 800.448.9835. www2.dupont.com.

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    Greg Premru Photography Inc.

    Locally sourced FSC-certified eastern white cedar shingles from Maibec, broad covered porches, and deep roof overhangs add to the home’s farmhouse look. DuPont Tyvek HomeWrap protects against wind and rain while sealing the home to help it stay dry, cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. Maibec: 800.363.1930. www.maibec.com/en. DuPont: 800.448.9835. www.dupont.com.

  • Carter Williams, LEED AP, LDa Architecture and Interiors.

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    Carter Williams, LEED AP, LDa Architecture and Interiors.

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    Greg Premru Photography Inc

    Carter Williams, LEED AP, LDa Architecture and Interiors.

 
 

When a suburban Boston family of five outgrew its small Cape Cod home a few years ago, the owners began looking for a larger place, one that would lend itself to universal-style upgrades for their disabled daughter, who relies on a wheelchair full-time. They wanted to stay in their original neighborhood, which is walkable to the town center and near the children’s schools and family friends.

The couple quickly discovered that homes in their area large enough for accessibility-focused retrofits such as extra-wide hallways and oversized bathrooms were out of their price range.

After a long search, the family came across a lot ideally located near their house but agonized over what to do with the dilapidated 1800s carriage house on the site. With the help of Cambridge-based LDa Architecture and Interiors, they looked into what it would take to make the old house accessible—not to mention code compliant—and decided it made more sense to tear it down.

“The clients felt this was a rare opportunity to build a home from scratch that was going to be much more energy efficient than the old one,” says LDa principal Douglas Dick. Because the owners share a deep commitment to sustainable living, conserving material resources was also a big priority, starting with salvaging as much of the old house as possible. Cabinetry, appliances, sinks, lighting fixtures, a water heater, an antique wood stove, leaded windows, and 750 square feet of flooring and lumber were pulled out of the building before it was demolished. With the help of local salvage company Green Goat, they diverted 12,599 pounds of materials from landfills and reduced the project’s carbon emissions by 6.31 tons.

Even though the project location was ideal, its steeply sloping 0.31-acre lot was hardly the best place to build an accessible dwelling, says project architect Carter Williams. She mitigated the problem by nestling the four-level home into the site and designing wide, terraced play areas and a sloping path along the side elevations to provide easy wheelchair access to the backyard and lower-level entrance.

In front, a ramp integrated into the FSC-certified garapa deck provides a smooth transition from the driveway onto the wraparound porch, which leads to the front door. A second ramp is made of the same bluestone used for the terrace.

“The ramps are very subtle due to the blending of materials,” says Williams. To keep ramps short, each porch is less than 6 inches above grade; in the case of the screened porch, the floor level is flush with the yard. “It’s not your ideal positive drainage situation,” Williams says, “but we have a deep protected porch with a roof that drains to a crawl space below.”