For the past several years I have sat in on meetings and planning sessions discussing a proposed new building where I had worked. Much of the time and focus was spent on where this or that office was going to be or where certain departments would be. It was frustrating for many of the staff because there was so much jockeying to see who would get what space and where. It was frustrating for me and I didn't know why. I realized why this past month when visiting a Holiday - Sport - Conference Center in Korsør, Denmark. The Mushholm Center was designed from the ground up with accessibility in mind. When designing the Center and spaces, they designed the Center with all persons in mind. So it didn’t matter if you had a disability or not, this was a great place for a nights stay, a vacation or a conference. In fact when we were there, there were a group of doctors have a 2-day training in the spaces.
I had the pleasure of spending 2 nights there when I was presenting at a conference in Korsør. When we drove up to the Center, I could tell this was going to be a special place. There was lots of room for parking for vans and all the sidewalks and paths were accessible and wide. However when I walked in, I was really amazed. The first thing I saw was a gym where a group of adults were playing hockey with adapted electric wheelchairs ( and they were playing rough!). The gym spaces was amazing. There was so much thought that went into this space. There was an adapted climbing wall, a harness system that provided an opportunity for all persons to glide across the entire gym, all spaces were accessible by ramps, a space that can be closed off or expanded, baffles in the ceiling to reduce noise for those with sensory issues, etc… I could go on all day.
The hotel rooms were totally accessible. All sinks were adjustable and movable with various ways to adjust the faucets. There were rail systems and lifts so you could transfer from a bed all the way into the shower in the bathroom and back. All the beds had the capability for bed rails. There was a kitchen where all the appliances were accessible and adjustable. The living spaces were wide open and accessible with power wheel chairs.
The outdoor spaces were even designed so all persons had access to a wide variety of sports and leisure activities. There were even accessible outdoor hiking trails.
I realized why I was frustrated in those meeting and that was because staff and administration had lost their focus and were more concerned about their space and placement. We should have been laser focused on designing an innovative spaces that provides opportunities for all rather than whose office was where.