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Residential Buildings

Universal Design Principles

To ensure that all people can gain access to residential accommodation that actively facilitates independence and participation in all aspects of university residential life.

Accommodation buildings and common living areas

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context residential accommodation buildings including communal living spaces, in addition to meeting the Universal Design Principles for siting, entrances, internal access and the like, should:

  • Have an accessible path of travel that connects to campus arrival points, campus facilities and amenities and academic programs, to and through community, communal and private areas, ensuring that facilities required to be accessible, as a minimum, are designed to the appropriate Australian Standards on Access and Mobility.
  • As far as possible have an open plan design, as this strategy maximises use of circulation spaces for all people.
  • Be furnished with moveable furniture as this offers additional flexibility of circulation spaces, have windows that are low enough to enable a person using a wheelchair to experience a view.
  • Have both visual and auditory emergency warning systems installed into all communal and private facilities. Consider vibrating pager devices where appropriate.
  • Have door hardware, intercoms switches and controls that are easy to identify, use and operate.

Accessible bedrooms and ensuites

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context the designated accessible bedrooms and ensuites (as required in accordance with the BCA), should:

  • Be located in close proximity to communal living areas, giving due consideration to emergency egress for all, including people with motor and sensory disabilities.
  • With the provision of an appropriately reinforced ceiling, have the capacity for the installation of a ceiling mounted hoist in at least one ground floor accessible accommodation unit within each residential complex.
  • The accessible unit / bedrooms should:
  • Have sufficient circulation space for a person in a wheelchair to move around the bed and transfer onto and off the bed.
  • Provide a minimum 150mm clear open space between the floor and the base of the bed to accommodate a portable hoist, if required.
  • Provide additional space to store mobility equipment such as wheelchairs and hoists.
  • Feature large, easy to operate controls within accessible reach ranges from the bed and a wheelchair where appropriate.
  • Provide sufficient circulation space to approach the wardrobe. Consider:
    • a sliding or concertina style door that achieves wide access
    • adjustable height shelving to accommodate reach ranges for people standing and seated
  • Be furnished with:
    • a height adjustable desk or bench
    • open, height adjustable shelving for storage purposes accommodating variations in anthropometrics and reach ranges.
  • The accessible ensuites should:
  • Where communal, be located in close proximity to the accessible bedrooms.
  • Feature adequate storage facilities that do not encroach into the required circulation spaces.
  • Be an attractive design that is keeping with the aesthetic treatments in all other communal and private sanitary facilities.
  • Have any emergency call bells (supported by a robust and sustainable response procedure, by a person who is trained to give assistance) installed adjacent the toilet pan in a location that can be reached by a person sitting on the toilet pan or a person who may have fallen onto the floor, ensuring that the emergency call bell reset switch is in reach of the user.
  • Have a layout that does not require a person, using the toilet only, to walk or wheel over a potentially wet and slippery floor surface
  • Include a grab rail strength towel rail to provide additional support.
Hot Tip
As the shower seat stipulated in AS1428.1 may not meet the needs of all students; an individual solution of a commercially available height adjustable shower chair may provide a solution.
Hot Tip
As individual needs vary it is difficult to design a communal kitchen that meets the needs of all users and in some instances it may be necessary to instigate an individual solution for a specific resident. Should this occur ensure that any modification does not restrict usage by other people.


Kitchens within accessible accommodation and all communal kitchens / tea preparation areas to be designed and constructed to the design criteria documented in section 13.9, the internal amenities of this document.


Design Criteria

Communal and private accessible laundries should:

  • Provide clear circulation spaces to enable people using mobility aids to enter and move through the laundry and turn around and exit where necessary.
  • Provide at least one front load washing machine with sufficient circulation space for all people to approach, load and operate the machine.
  • Provide at least one front load dryer that can be accessed from the seated position.
  • Provide adjustable storage to meet the needs of all residents.
  • Provide a GPO within easy reach of all residents.
  • Be furnished with a more accessible alternative to a deep laundry tub, for example, a kitchen sink, particularly in private accessible laundries.

Liveable Housing

In addition to the required number of accessible bedrooms and ensuites (as per the BCA), give consideration to designing and constructing 5% of bedrooms and ensuites to the Platinum Performance Level of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines  ( This approach will provide flexibility and adaptability of spaces and more appropriately meets the needs of people with ambulant disabilities or orthopaedic and neurological conditions who may not use a wheelchair and therefore not require all of the elements of an accessible facility. This style of accommodation should be distributed evenly throughout each residential building, offering choice and flexibility of use.

Emergency egress

Emergency egress strategies and procedures should, where applicable, meet the requirements documented in the Internal Access section of this Guideline.