A home designed for a wheelchair bound client suits him perfectly – and looks like any other house…
|This month Design Ambassador Carolyn McFarland chose the Michael Marshman + Associates designed House for Toby as her Ambassador’s Choice, because although it was designed for a disabled client is still works as a beautiful piece of architecture.
Built in Tathra, on the NSW south coast, House for Toby was designed and built for a client who lives in a wheel chair. Although it’s designed for someone with a disability it isn’t a house that looks like it’s designed that way.
“While there are a few clues that show it isn’t a house for an able bodied person, it’s a great demonstration that a house doesn’t need to look like an institution for someone that has a disability,” says McFarland. “It can still be a beautiful piece of architecture.”
Climbing the walls
With all the living designed upstairs Toby accesses upstairs by a ramp externally and a lift internally. Visitors can use the stairs. There is another option however, and that’s the climbing wall, part of Toby’s physiotherapy program for maintaining upper body strength.
When Toby’s not climbing the walls, he spends a lot of time getting around on the floor so the designers spent a lot of time considering floor finishes, like the heated floor in the bathroom.
Designing just to suit Toby would ignore the requirements of other occupants so while kitchen sink area has a lower bench top so it can be accessed from wheelchair, it also has a hydraulic lift built in so it can be raised and lowered depending on who’s using the kitchen.
However, the universal design aspects aren’t the only clever aspects of this home.
“It’s a clever design, with a beautiful use of materials,” says McFarland. “The walls are lined with clear finished fibre cement sheeting, which is designed to withstand the impact of a wheelchair and there is also timber wall paneling designed to withstand impact.
McFarland points out that as it gets quite cold on the south coast, the lightweight construction is perfect, with lots of insulation in the outer walls.
“They don’t need to provide cooling in the summer months because it doesn’t get that warm and there is good cross ventilation however they do have in floor gas heating.”
Cost to construct
“Toby’s house had higher specifications for some of it’s products.The lift and rooms like the bathroom accommodated for Toby, as did the kitchen with the hydraulic bench." says McFarland. The cost of construction was offset because of the use of lightweight materials.
Architect: Michael Marshman + Associates Architects Project Team: Michael Marshman, Gillian MacMillan Builder: Rettke Builders Photographer: Gillian MacMillan Project Name: House for Toby Location: Tathra, NSW
Award: AIA NSW Country Division Termimesh Timber Award 2011
Wow, so much creative talent. I love it! It’s all so inspiring!
Usmle Step 1 01-Feb-2012 09:25 PM