Legislation at both Commonwealth and State levels requires that people with disabilities be able to access certain premises without discrimination. These requirements relate predominantly to public buildings and spaces, such as workplaces, shops, assembly buildings and accommodation buildings.
Design for accessibility is a Commonwealth requirement that must be complied with and may include the provision of:
accessible car parking;
- paths of travel to the building;
- access into the building through the principal entrance;
- access to all areas of a building commonly used by the occupants;
- use of toilets and other facilities;
- information in all formats - written, visual and audio;
- services such as telephones, vending machines, counters and retail outlets; and
- access throughout the broader place including open spaces, landscapes, gardens and garden structures.
It is possible to vary certain provisions of the technical requirements of the Building Code of Australia for reasons of heritage at the discretion of the certifying building Surveyor. Broader concessions of the access provisions in order to avoid a loss of heritage significance may be granted by obtaining a ruling from the state regulator (the Appeal Tribunal) under section 218A of the Building Act.
Any proposals for access works should be informed by a thorough understanding of the impact on significance and the consideration of options to minimise this impact.
10.1 Providing access (generally)
|Access solutions that clearly do not impact on the significant character, fabric, or spaces of a place.||Access solutions that may impact on the significant character, fabric, or spaces of a place.|
Accessible paths of travel should be designed so that the impact on more significant elements is avoided. The application of concessions under applicable building legislation should be fully explored.
10.2 Equal access toilet facilities
|Installing new equal access toilet fit-outs in areas with an existing modern fit-out where there is no impact on heritage fabric, areas of archaeological potential or other aspects of significance.||Installing new equal access toilet fit-outs where there is an impact on heritage fabric, significant archaeological values or other aspects of significance.|
Toilets should be located carefully to avoid or minimise impacts to significant spaces or fabric while allowing easy accessibility and required signage.
10.3 Ramp and walkway access
|Installing ramp and walkway access where the ramp and or walkway will be:|
Installing a safety rail where:
- located in a discreet location that will have no physical impact to significant character or fabric (including areas of archaeological potential); and
- sympathetic to the character of the place; and
- fully removable and reversible (that is, not concrete).
- it is required for safety purposes; and
- it is constructed in an unobtrusive manner not on a prominent facade, with no impact on significance; and
- the works will be removable and reversible.
|Minimising impacts to the place's significance by choosing the easiest access point to the heritage place, whilst retaining significant fabric such as railings, steps and windows, and preserving the overall setting and character of the place. Designing independently accessible infrastructure such as ramps or user-operated lifting devices to have as little impact as possible on the setting of the place and significant fabric.|
Where ramps are constructed of concrete, they should be designed to avoid creation of conditions that will cause or exacerbate problems with rising damp in adjoining masonry.
Note: The principal public entry to the heritage place should be clearly defined. It is discriminatory to expect people with disabilities to access a place through a rear entry, when others can use the main entry.
10.4 Internal circulation and use
|Installating signage (including visibility markers and tactile ground surface indicators) that clearly does not result in a physical or a visual impact on the significant fabric or spaces of the place.|
Installating temporary or portable ramps.
Alterating doorways and circulation spaces involving non-significant building fabric.
|Changes to internal circulation that will result in a physical or a visual impact on the significant elements or spaces of the place.|
Position accessible facilities to minimise the need for installing signage and lighting.
Plan paths of travel to and within the building to avoid impacts on the heritage significance of the building and minimise alterations to heritage fabric. The solution should form part of the design concept.
Locate lifts or lifting devices to minimise potential impacts from excavations for lift wells and from the visual impact of roof-top plant and equipment.
Note: Publicly accessible areas of heritage places should be easily accessible by people with disabilities. Access restrictions posed by internal doorways steps, floor finishes, counter and bench heights should be addressed. Similarly, access to internal stairs should form part of the heritage assessment and review against building standard requirements.
Note: Where compliance with the access provisions will result in an unacceptable heritage impact alternative solutions, Building Code concessions and modifications of the building standards should be discussed with the certifying building surveyor.
|Upgrading mechanical components for an existing lift or an early or original lift car, where the original fabric of the lift car remains unchanged and unaffected by the works.||Installing new lifts.|
Where possible lifts should be installed in existing voids or externally in discreet locations.
Removal of significant fabric should be minimised as far as possible.
Consideration should be given to the amount of change required to other parts of the building in order to access the proposed lift.
10.6 Parking and external circulation
|Changes to line marking or existing signage in an existing carpark.||Altering landscaped areas or carparks where the changes result in a physical or a visual impact on the significant elements or spaces of the place.|
Parking and circulation should be designed to have as little impact on the setting of the place and significant fabric.
Signage to indicate the location of accessible parking spaces should minimise impacts on the significance of the place, its setting or existing significant fabric.
Access from accessible parking areas to pathways, including signage and kerb ramps as necessary, should minimise the impacts on the significance of the place, its setting or existing significant fabric.
Circulation around heritage places (by well-defined paths at appropriate grades and widths and with firm surfaces) should minimise impacts on the place, fabric and its setting.
Case Study (Accessibility): 103 Macquarie Street, Hobart
The building at 103 Macquarie Street has steps at both its front and rear entrances and no accessible path of travel existed prior to 2007. A number of options to improve access were considered. The most efficient solution was found to be a ramp from an existing but disused gate at the uphill end of the frontage, which provides access to the main entrance. The ramp is largely screened by the existing sandstone and cast iron fence, and is a light weight structure that rides above existing sandstone entrance steps. Installation necessitated closure of the gate that had originally served the principal entrance, but overall it had minimal impact on the significant fabric and presentation of the building.
Case Study (Accessibility): Hobart Town Hall, Hobart
The Hobart Town Hall is one of the most prominent and important heritage buildings in Macquarie Street.
Like many public buildings of the time, it includes a raised portico approached by a flight of steps. Notable for its symmetrical facade, providing access to the building posed certain challenges.
The solution was an elegant and light weight curved ramp. The ramp has no impact on significant fabric, and due to its quality design, only a minor, and therefore acceptable impact on the presentation of the place.