Welcoming home designs for wounded warriors

Two new house designs explore what happens when injured soldiers come home and how we can design homes to improve their quality of life.
Written by Sun Kim, Contributor

Two prototype homes for returning, injured U.S. soldiers were unveiled on November 30 at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. The Freedom Home and the Patriot Home are the first houses of the Wounded Warrior Home Project, a collaboration sponsored by the Department of Defense and Clark Realty Capital (the U.S. Army's partner for the Residential Communities Initiative at Fort Belvoir). The project's mission is to create truly accessible homes for returning soldiers and set a new standard of accessible design.

Innovation consultants IDEO and architect Michael Graves led a design team that used human-centered and universal design principles to develop homes for the unique physical, psychological, and emotional needs of 'wounded warriors'. The team found that most people who return home after an injury or trauma try to adapt themselves to their environment. The Wounded Warrior Home designs focus on adapting and creating environments to fit the returning soldiers.

Over half of the 200,000 U.S. soldiers who have been injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan return home and continue active duty. Veterans can face various challenges beyond physical disabilities including post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and vision loss. In addition to modifications that follow ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, the homes respond to soldiers' needs at present and also accommodate their and their families' needs in the future.

To understand the soldiers’ physical limitations, and cognitive and emotional challenges, IDEO researched and conducted over a year of interviews and observations with civilians, injured soldiers, families, and experts. Michael Graves, who has used a wheelchair since 2003, contributed his personal experience and insight as well as his design expertise to the project.

Physically, the homes don't look much different from a typical model development home designed by a renown architect, which is the point -- to provide a place of 'normalcy'. The visible design moves include linear hallways to reduce turns, wider hallways, open connections between rooms, sliding and automatic doors, removable base cabinets, adjustable kitchen surfaces, roll-in showers, and contrasting floor patterns.

Two soldier families will move into the Freedom Home and Patriot Home after an initial exhibit time for the public and usability testing. Nineteen additional accessible homes based on the prototypes are planned for the Fort Belvoir residential communities.

More information about the home designs and design process, including video profiles of soldiers who helped in research, can be found on the Wounded Warrior Home and IDEO websites.

Via: Core77
Images: courtesy of IDEO

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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