Universal Design

Integrating the spirit of accessibility throughout home design.

Universal design is a relatively new paradigm or attitude whose concept has emerged from ‘barrier free’ design, yet also appeals to a wide range of ‘transgenerational’ consumers.

As life expectancy rises and modern medicine has increased the survival rate of those with injuries or illnesses, there is a growing interest in universal design. Its principals are widely accepted and preferred among the 50+ age category who are very active, yet realize their living needs will change as they age gracefully in the coming years. Incorporating the principles of universal design into a living environment extends the possibility of staying in one’s home for an extended period of time. It eliminates many of the limitations that traditional home design and construction reveal when one’s health status changes.

Universal design creates an integration of accessibility throughout a home project. It creates a total design theme of spaces that are easy to use and provide accessibility, while at the same time being visually attractive. Although creating compliance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), Universal design incorporates many ‘hidden’ features that make the space attractive to all segments of the population.

The Knolls at Hillcrest is Montana’s first active adult lifestyle community, designed for those 55 and better. Accessibility and the principles of Universal Design have been integrated throughout The Knolls project through recognition of the spirit for ready accessibility - housing units that are universally more accessible and more gracious and spacious for everyone. This integration makes accessibility almost invisible with spaciousness throughout the project a basic amenity.

Some of the universal design features that can be found in The Knolls homes include:

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Accessibility extends to private patios and courtyards with flow to indoor/outdoor spaces
No-step entry: building sites that were engineered for accessible entries, enabling individuals to enter the home and access it’s main rooms without having to navigate stairs
Natural daylight throughout the home creating spaces that provide higher natural lighting levels ‘preferred’ by people who are 50+
Bright and appropriate lighting - particularly under-counter task lighting in kitchen areas
Adjustable lighting control: dimmer controls throughout each home for day/evening flexibility
Unique side yards and courtyard style ‘outdoor rooms’ with total accessibility and semi-privacy
Open and wide entry areas; roof canopies allowing easy access to entries protected from weather
Open living spaces that distribute light and eliminate dark areas - creating more gradual levels of light change that are easier on the eye
Lever style door handles throughout
Easy to use bathrooms: comfort height toilets; ADA compliant fixtures; low-curb walk-in showers
Spacious bathroom suites, private toilet areas, and Euro-style showers provide beautiful style, ease of use, and efficiency
Wide interior doors and hallways creating a more gracious feel; everyone and everything moves more easily from room to room; with extra floor space in the primary living spaces