A Fully Wheelchair-Accessible Mid-Century Apartment

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A Fully Wheelchair-Accessible Mid-Century Apartment

A Fully Wheelchair-Accessible Mid-Century Apartment

Architecture

by Amelia Barnes

This 1960s apartment has been renovated to be fully wheelchair accessible.

Accessible features include a low breakfast bar on the island bench, and integrated wheelchair access under sinks and preparation areas.

The apartment has  270 degrees across the Melbourne skyline and Port Phillip bay.

Fibonacci terrazzo tiles and Laminex cabinetry create durable surfaces.

The use of deep red tones throughout the interiors is both a reference to the original architecture and response to the site.

‘The space had an abundance of natural light, so a white or neural interior scheme would have looked bleached and created uncomfortable glare,’ says Jessica Pile, co-director at De.Arch.

The mid-century inspired bathroom.

De.Arch kept the spacious modernist feel of the original apartment — not only increasing its usability and function, but enhancing the property’s views from every room.

Tobi Dikstein and Nick Morris purchased this 1960s St Kilda apartment with their future lifestyle and eventual downsizing in mind.

The apartment needed to cater for ageing in place, as well as being fully-accessible to suit Nick, who uses a wheelchair.

The couple engaged De.Arch to meet these requirements, without stripping the mid-century apartment’s original feel. ‘We saw this as an exciting challenge and opportunity,’ says Jessica Pile, co-director at De.Arch.

De.Arch kept the spacious modernist feel of the original apartment — not only increasing its usability and function, but enhancing the property’s views from every room.

The apartment now features a raised dining platform accessed via a shallow ramp, creating spectacular bay and city views from a seated position.

The whole main bedroom and en suite floor was also raised to also allow space for a shallow ramp while navigating the 1960s plumbing infrastructure.

Additional accessible features include an island bench with a lower breakfast bar (no need for stools), integrated wheelchair access under sinks and preparation areas, a zero threshold shower with a built-in tiled bench seat, and generous circulation spaces throughout.

These features have all been integrated while successfully retaining the mid-century feel of the apartment. ‘The overall feel when you walk in this space is that of understated luxury, a homely cosiness, and a sanctuary away from the daily bustle,’ says Jessica.

The use of deep red tones throughout the interiors is both a reference to the original architecture and response to the site. Jessica explains, ‘The space had an abundance of natural light, so a white or neural interior scheme would have looked bleached and created uncomfortable glare.’

‘Tobi, who sourced all furniture and objects, also had a particular penchant for the colour red.’

De.Arch are registered NDIS providers passionate about seamlessly and subtly integrating accessible modifications into homes. This project is a testament to their philosophy.

Jessica says, ‘I love that the space is fully accessible by wheelchair though so integrated and discrete that it is unnoticeable — exactly the way an accessible home should be.’



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