I learned something new yesterday. (As you get older this happens less and less. Also if you’re 20 years old and know everything …). I learned that Vancouver is the only city in Canada with its own building code.
Vancouver has taken these powers to ban doorknobs from future housing projects. Instead, lever-type handles are mandated. What does Vancouver have against doorknobs? Probably nothing personal, but they’re simply not as accessible for many people (like people with RA who have difficulty grasping and turning a standard knob). Vancouver is using its unique powers and building code to move toward universal design rather than adaptive design.
Most construction is adaptive. That is, you build something, then you adapt it to whatever is needed. Kind of like building a house then installing a wheelchair ramp. Universal design looks at the needs of those who will use it and incorporates those features into the initial design — like putting in levers rather than knobs.
RA’s super hero, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy, has a strong architectural and design background. He has written often about his dream that building design would incorporate just this kind of thinking. Well, kudos to Vancouver. They’re not all the way there, but taking a step like this is proof positive that people who have the power to make changes are actually thinking about things like this. (There’s a lot of free thinking out there on the left coast of North America. Some of it is actually brilliant.)
I don’t know why this news makes me so incredibly happy. Maybe because I’m married to an architect so I get a first-hand look at some of the archaic and convoluted building (and even ADA) codes out there. And once these codes are accepted, inertia alone makes them difficult to change. It may only be one candle in the darkness, but I am hopeful that other cities and government agencies can see the amazing clarity of Vancouver’s approach.
I hope whatever doors open in your life today bring you welcomed surprises. Thanks for checking in.