Entrances and horizontal circulation
WORK in PROGRESS
It is good practice to ascertain the needs of the range of expected users as early as possible, and to check the practicality and usability of emerging designs with a diverse user panel.
Designing for one group can result in solutions that address the needs of many others. For example:
- Level entry (Step-free) entrances facilitate not just wheelchair users but also people with buggies; people with suitcases or shopping trolleys; people using walking or mobility aids; and people with visual difficulties.
- Larger toilet compartments provide easier access to wheelchair users; those with luggage or parcels; parents with pushchairs or accompanying small children; those using walking or mobility aids; and larger-sized people.
- Clear, well-placed signage that uses recognised symbols or pictograms helps people with reading or cognitive difficulties, and those whose first language is neither English.
Sometimes one solution will not suit all and a range of options will need to be provided, for example:
- providing both steps and a ramp where there is a change in level;
- providing parking ticket machines that offer slots at different heights to facilitate use at standing height, at sitting height, and by people of small stature.
a. Appearance and function
The design of an entrance has a significant influence on both the appearance and functionality of the building. Entrances signify the point of access to a building; provide a focal point for staff, residents and visitors; and serve to welcome people into the building. They may also characterise in a visual and practical way the ethos of the building or organisation and its approach to universal design.
A clearly visible and accessible entrance is likely to create a positive impression for all building users and make them feel welcome.
If an entrance is hard to find or if it is difficult to access due to heavy doors or narrow door width, it creates a poor first impression and may make some people feel less welcome or even excluded.
The design of reception and waiting areas, and the ease in which people are able to move independently around a building, have a similar influence on overall accessibility. A well-designed building layout with clear access routes and doors that are sufficiently wide and easy to operate will demonstrate a commitment to universal design throughout.
The design of an entrance must acknowledge these and other requirements whilst ensuring that everybody who is likely and entitled to enter a building is able to do so conveniently and independently.
Similarly, internal doors provide a means of enclosing a room or providing an effective barrier between adjacent areas for reasons of privacy, noise reduction, fire safety or security. However, they must also be designed to permit easy passage for people to allow them to access facilities and to exit a building safely.
Every building entrance should be easy to locate and clearly distinguishable from the rest of the building. The position of an entrance may be highlighted with architectural features such as a canopy or a door recess. A change in surface texture of the pavement or forecourt may help to signal the location of an entrance, particularly for people with visual difficulties.
Audio clues, such as a small fountain or rustling plants, and olfactory features such as fragrant plants can also assist.
Artificial lighting can highlight the entrance to a building and make it more obvious at night for everyone.
In new buildings, all entrances – whether they are the principal entrance or any other entrance such as a staff entrance – must be universally designed.
It is not acceptable that people with different abilities such as people of different ages, size or disability should be required to use a secondary or alternative entrance.
Externally, the provision of steps and ramps may be appropriate, or the installation of a platform lift if there is insufficient space for a ramp. However, if universally designed access still cannot be achieved, it may be necessary to provide an alternative entrance in a location that is accessible.
Any alternative entrance should be as freely available and clearly sign-posted as the principal entrance and should be available for everyone to use.
Where entrances are located at the top or bottom of a ramp or a flight of steps, or at the end of a long passage, it is essential that sufficient space is provided for wheelchair users; parents with strollers; people with visual difficulties; guide dog users; and those with walking aids to manoeuvre and turn safely.
The recommended clear area for a landing or turning space immediately outside an entrance is 2400mm x 2400mm.
Outward-opening entrance doors should either be recessed or protected to avoid the risk of collision. Where outward-opening doors are located close to a flight of steps or a ramp, they should also be positioned to avoid the risk of anyone tripping or falling backwards down the steps or a ramp while opening the door.
c. Horizontal circulation
Horizontal circulation in a building may comprise access routes through open-plan areas, walkways, corridors and lobbies.
The overall arrangement of access routes should be logical, understandable, useable, and as direct as possible in terms of providing access to key facilities.
Travel distances should be minimised, although this of course will depend on the nature and size of the building. A well-designed building layout, with clear circulation routes that are easy to follow will benefit everybody.
Changes of level within a storey should be avoided if at all possible. Where this is not possible in an existing building, the installation of a ramp, passenger lift or platform lift may need to be considered and designed to be accessible.
The design, specification and maintenance of doors and associated ironmongery can substantially affect the accessibility of a building. The very presence of a door presents a barrier by forming a division between adjacent rooms or spaces. Indeed, doors are designed to enclose and in many cases to seal tight against the weather, fire or sound. The requirement to provide easy and understandable access through doors often presents a significant challenge to designers.
As a starting point, designers should consider whether doors are necessary and, wherever possible, plan the building to minimise the need for doors.
Quiet and noisy areas of a building could be separated by a buffer zone to avoid the need for a lobby or heavy doors. In some buildings, door-free access can be provided to toilet areas, with privacy maintained by the careful positioning of walls and screens and effective ventilation achieved using pressure differentials.
Where doors are provided, they should be easy to identify, wide enough for people to pass through comfortably and easy to operate. In order to approach and open a door or to operate controls and ironmongery, sufficient space is required on both sides for a person to manoeuvre and for the door to swing or slide
People generally need to use door handles to go through a door. It is essential that handles are clearly identifiable, within reach and easy to use.
Door knobs should be avoided as they can be very difficult to grip and turn. Lever handles are generally the easiest for most people to use, either by using hands gripped around the lever bar or by using a forearm or elbow.
Door lever handles should be positioned 800 to 1100mm above floor or ground level, although a height of 900mm is preferred.
In some cases, such as where child safety is a concern, it may be acceptable to locate the handles higher, out of the reach of children.
Where doors have a lock, the lock should be positioned above the handle and a recommended 72mm vertical distance from the lever handle to keyhole so that the latter is clearly visible and unobstructed.
Keys should be easy to use, or capable of being fitted with a bow adaptor to make them large and easier to grip. Winged or lever-thumb turns are generally easier to operate and should be used in preference to small, round knob turns.
Lever handles should contrast visually with the door so that they are easy to identify. Where lever handles are provided on the outside face of external doors, they should be of a material that is not cold to touch, such as timber or plastic-coated steel.
Metal handles should be avoided wherever possible as they can become very cold in winter weather conditions, making them extremely uncomfortable and possibly painful for some people to use.
Checklist – Building entrances appearance and function
♦ Entrances should signify the uses of a building or organisation and demonstrate positive approach to universal design.
♦ Entrances should be accessible whilst also maintaining security, environmental performance, and other requirements.
Checklist – Reception and waiting areas
♦ Ensure logical arrangement of circulation routes and facilities.
♦ Make sure reception desk is clearly visible with direct route from entrance doors.
♦ Provide induction loop system at reception desk.
♦ Install well-designed lighting to optimise visual communication and lip reading.
♦ Avoid glare by using controllable light sources.
♦ Choose floor finishes that are firm and slip-resistant.
♦ Provide comfortable seating and free space for
wheelchair users; parents with strollers; people with visual difficulties; guide dog users; and those with walking aids.
♦ Locate toilet facilities adjacent to reception area.
♦ Highlight the location of key facilities with well-designed, clear signage.
♦ Ensure telephones or combined telephone, text and email units are accessible and useable
Checklist – Queuing areas and temporary barriers
♦ Fix queuing barriers firmly to the floor.
♦ Leave recommended aisle width of 1100mm.
♦ Ensure barriers incorporate rigid handrail and visually contrast with surrounding surfaces.
♦ Make sure sockets for temporary barriers are flush with floor surface and incorporate cap or cover.
♦ Limit the use of unfixed barriers.
♦ Provide seating at queuing areas.
Checklist – Horizontal circulation
♦ Plan overall layout to be as logical and direct as possible.
♦ Avoid changes of level within a storey.
♦ Maintain access routes carefully and keep them clear of potential obstructions.
♦ Ensure access routes through open-plan areas are well defined.
♦ Incorporate handrails to both sides of walkways and provide seating
at regular intervals.
Checklist – Corridors
♦ Ensure recommended 2000mm clear width for corridors in public buildings.
♦ Ensure recommended 1500mm clear width for corridors in other buildings.
♦ Provide passing places of 2000mm long x 1800mm wide in corridors less than 1800mm wide.
♦ Make sure short constrictions in width are not be less than 1200mm.
♦ Recess wall-mounted items wherever possible.
♦ Ensure any projections into the clear width are guarded.
♦ Consider using handrails for certain building types and in all cases where corridors are over 20m long.
♦ Provide seats at no more than 20m intervals on long corridors.
Checklist – Doors
♦ Avoid the use of doors where other solutions are possible.
♦ Consider how the building layout can be used to divide or screen areas as an alternative to using conventional doorways.
♦ Make sure doors are easy to identify, sufficiently wide and easy to operate.
♦ Ensure sufficient space is available on both sides of the door.
Checklist – Internal doors
♦ Ensure recommended clear width of internal doors of 850mm.
♦ Provide clear space to both sides of door
♦ Protect outward-opening doors with a door recess or guardrail.
♦ Install inward-opening doors to open against a side wall.
♦ Ensure the direction of door openings is consistent throughout a building.
♦ Make sure doors contrast visually with adjacent wall surfaces.
♦ Incorporate vision panels wherever practical.
Accessible design – Design focussed on principles of extending standard design to people with some type of performance limitation to maximize the number of potential customers who can readily use a product, building or service.
Building – A permanent or temporary structure of any size that accommodates facilities to which people have access. A building accommodating sanitary facilities may include a toilet block in a public park or shower facilities at a campsite. A temporary building may include portable toilet facilities such as those provided at outdoor events.
Building user – Any person regardless of their age, size, ability or disability using facilities in a building or associated external environment.
Coir matting – A coarse kind of carpet made from coconut fibre usually used as a floor mat in matwells at building entrances.
Matwell – Entrance Door Matting Systems set into a frame in the floor.
Vision panel – A fixed, glazed panel set into a door that enables people to see through from one side of the door to the other. May also be termed ‘viewing panel.’
Door ironmongery – A collective term for components including hinges, handles, locks and self-closing devices, which are used to facilitate the correct functioning of a door. May also be termed ‘architectural ironmongery’ or ‘door furniture’.
Transom – A horizontal crosspiece across a window or separating a door from a window over it.
Universal Design = Useable = Understandable – Understanding users needs. For example an older person may require many resting places due to discomfort when walking for long distances.