Independent Living Institute

CIB logo



Report of the Second International Expert Seminar
on Building Non-Handicapping Environments:
Renewal of Inner Cities

Prague, October 15-17, 1987

Download the Prague proceedings as a PDF file (420 KB)

Improved Accessibility in Bathrooms

Hans Örnhall, National Board of Planning, Sweden

The Swedish Council for Building Research sponsors a project entitled "Renovating Bathrooms in 48 Hours". The project follows in the footsteps of the Swedish project on retrofit elevator technology and uses the same approach.

Second only to the problem of stairs and absence of elevators is the problem of inaccessible bathrooms. About three quarters of the bathrooms in the multi-family building stock in Sweden, built between 1945 and 1970, measure 1.6 m by 1.9 m. One of the aims in renovating a bathroom or retrofitting an old apartment house with an elevator is that residents do not need to move out during the retrofit work. A project group formulated criteria for a competition between manufacturers, contractors and installation firms for submitting proposals on how to renovate ordinary apartment bathrooms. The object of the competition was an ordinary three-storey building containing six flats owned by a non-profit housing company in Helsingborg in Southern Sweden.

Competitors had to meet the following mandatory requirements: Work had to be completed within 48 hours. No extension of the bathroom area was allowed. Bathrooms had to be accessible for wheelchair users. The bathtub had to be removable.

Desirable features were: installations that are easy to clean and to replace; quality that equals that of conventional solutions; space for a small laundry machine; passages of at least 75 cm; future leakages had to be easily detectable.

Two contractors cooperating with the two largest manufacturers of sanitary fittings in Sweden turned in the best proposals. They were quite similar to each other. Both had studied their solutions from several aspects in mock-ups, particularly in respect to accessibility. The two winners were awarded the contract for renovating 6 bathrooms each. The work was completed in October 1987 and will now be analyzed.

Prague CIB Report Contents | About CIB