Fostering an equal, diverse and thriving society where everyone can fully participate and contribute starts with designing inclusive spaces within the built environment. Inclusivity ensures that all individuals, regardless of age, ability or background, can access and navigate spaces safely and independently. It not only improves the quality of life for those with specific needs but also caters to others. For example, dropped kerbs, which not only help wheelchair users but also benefit parents with prams and people with wheeled luggage.
Access to public spaces is considered a basic human right. By creating inclusive environments, we uphold the principles of equality and non discrimination, ensuring that everyone can fully immerse themselves in social, economic and cultural life. However, this focus is a relatively new outlook. As a 'young carer' in my childhood, I witnessed first hand the consequences of the built environment not being fit for everyone. Inaccessible spaces often meant that both carers, who are usually full-time, and those with mobility challenges missed out. Fortunately, things have improved over the years as new-build establishments become more aware of accessibility. However, addressing accessibility in existing period and listed properties, with their unique architectural challenges, remains more complex due to factors like non-straight walls, winding corridors, steep steps, low ceilings and strict planning restrictions.
On page 36, John Miles, Group Business Development Director at Assent Building Control, discusses access and fire safety in heritage sites. He explains how balancing the responsibility for preserving these heritage buildings with adaptations for equal and safe access requires thoughtful and effective design.
Meanwhile, on page 24, Keith Lovelace, Managing Director and Owner at Ideas, delves further into the significance of inclusive design within the built environment. This new design language is being advocated in the public and private sector, emphasising the importance of creating spaces that are accessible to all.
ON THE COVER:
The award-winning architecture practice, Hollaway Studio, has designed a remarkable new music school and concert hall with acoustics fit for an international philharmonic concert hall.