Visitable townhouses

Recently, I've been taking some time while touring New Urbanism to look out for examples of accessible townhouses. A growing number of New Urbanist designs for townhouses are accessible or visitable by people using wheelchairs. CNU wants to document these buildings to help educate our members about simple ways to incorporate visitable houses into New Urbanist streetscapes.

We welcome images of townhouses, rowhouses, small-lot single family houses, stacked townhouses, and other visitable, "ground related" housing. (In "ground-related housing," each unit has direct access to the ground. Many families prefer such housing to housing accessed through common corridors, and such housing is usually more economical to build than mid- or high-rise elevator buildings of flats or lofts.)

The two key points of visitability are entry and interior door passage. Once inside the house, the ground level should also have a bathroom. However, the biggest challenge for most New Urbanist architecture is ensuring easy ground level access, especially to raised front porches and stoops.

Please tag your images with the word "accessible" to add them to our library of accessible townhouses. Thanks for your help!


Accessible, affordable cottage

It's good to see more and more examples of buildings with both satisfying building-street relationships and accessible. Steve Mouzon's USA Weekend cottage features a ramp tucked neatly along its side -- a nifty way to fit a ramp onto a narrow lot. I've posted an image of it in the image bank.

Thanks for documenting this promising trend.

Grade changes

In areas with good soil, part of the ramp can be built quite easily through site grading. A gentle slope on the site also will help with drainage. It's difficult to do in areas with very sandy soil (like coastal Mississippi) but would be an option for the Maryland cottage.

Accessibility and Visitability Initiative

This is a great idea! I've added the link and instructions to the Accessibility and Visitability Initiative page as well.

Raised (English) basements

Besides bringing the first floor down to grade, I've seen many newer developments which stack rowhouses above the garage, in a variation of the old English basement. The resulting rowhouses have very compact footprints, which results in high density.

Old Savannah rowhouses with English basements:

These rowhouses in Denver and these in Chicago have almost the same plan -- a 1.5 car garage and small multipurpose room on the ground floor, living and dining on the second floor, and two or three bedrooms on the third. However, the Chicago ones are adaptable for accessibility thanks to a few thoughtful features: (1) wider doors, (2) wide and straight-run stairs to accommodate a chair lift, and sometimes (3) stacked closets for potential future use as an elevator shaft. The architect says that the wider stairs and doors also enhance the feeling of interior spaciousness in what's otherwise a very compact floorplan.


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