Higher Requirements for Accessibility in Public Buildings

Mittwoch, 12. Juli 2017

The importance of accessibility may be overlooked or forgotten in large construction projects. In public buildings, it can be a challenge for architects, building designers etc. to take all visitors’ different accessibility needs into account. Especially when it comes to stairs and level differences in the floor.

The Importance of Accessibility

President of the Danish Handicap Organizations, Thorkild Olesen, says about the importance of accessibility: “Lack of accessibility keeps people with disabilities from having a social and active life. Many feel lonely because of their disability. Therefore, good accessibility solutions can open doors and give people with disabilities the opportunity to have a dignified and active life.”

There are already rules and requirements in the area, but according to Thorkild Olesen, they are rarely maintained: “Physical accessibility is essential for us to include people with disabilities. We find that accessibility is a problem in older buildings especially. The legislation is trying to secure future construction, but we still are aware of many old buildings that are not accessible and they are not going to be for a while.”

According to him, municipalities often give dispensation from the rules and the construction is therefore not properly secured in terms of accessibility.

The majority of architects, construction engineers, etc. probably have the idea that accessibility solutions can spoil beautiful architecture and therefore they do not consider accessibility solutions in construction. The Danish Handicap Organizations try to impact the construction industry into acknowledging the importance of accessibility to include a large group of people in our society. Among others, he does that by giving presentations about the subject at architectural education, etc.

The challenge of maintaining a beautiful architecture can be solved with a FlexStep which can be configured according to the design of the building. In this way, architects can create beautiful architecture as well as accessibility and equal opportunities for everyone in the buildings.

Architects with a Focus on Accessibility

The architects from H+ ARCHITECTS (in Denmark) always focus on incorporating accessibility in their construction plans when renovating older buildings.

Jesper Wegener, architect and partner in the company, says: “We are experiencing an increased focus on accessibility among our customers and in the industry. We often faced the challenge that older buildings have large differences between street and building level as well as differences in levels inside the buildings. The space for accessibility solutions is limited. As architects, we must be creative and see opportunities rather than challenges.”

According to Jesper Wegener, H+ ARCHITECTS focuses on making accessibility solutions that appear to be a natural part of the interior of the building. In this way, they create valuable accessibility solutions for users with physical disabilities as seen in e.g. Copenhagen City Court (see photos below).



Users and Accessibility

Users also notice when accessibility solutions are considered in the architecture. Wheelchair user Jack Mikkelsen reviews accessibility in various buildings and he says on the subject: “When accessibility solutions are integrated with the interior, it makes you feel more welcome. As a wheelchair user, we also feel frustrated when accessibility solutions are ugly and stodgy and are not taking the original architecture into account. The possibilities to make buildings accessible without compromising the architecture are available.” Read more about Jack and his partner's visit at and review of accessibility at Museum East Jutland in Denmark here >


The subject and the FlexStep solution have been published featured in the Jutland Post Business (Danish national newspaper) on July 3, 2017. Read the article here (in Danish) >

Read another article about the subject and FlexStep in Dagens Byggeri (Danish online magazine) on the 4th of July 2017 (in Danish) here >

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