Universal Design in Action

image of soldier carrying another with text woudned warrior projectMost injured U.S. service men and women returning from war must adapt to a home, even if it complies with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. The soldiers find workarounds to cope with their surroundings based on individual capabilities and preferences. Clark Realty Capital believed there had to be a better solution. The Virginia-based real estate firm, which is partnered with the Department of Defense on more than $4.7 billion of privatized housing for service members, collaborated with IDEO (www.ideo.com) on a new model for building accessible homes on military installations.

Image of yellow Clark home built for Ft Belvoir wounded warriorsThe challenge was to visualize and design the ideal home for soldiers injured in the field. The effort included floor plans and amenities that would not only meet or exceed ADA standards, but also be versatile enough to accommodate varied physical and psychological needs.


The design team “took an in-depth look at accessibility issues, interviewing and observing 10 civilians and 20 injured soldiers with different needs, meeting with their loved ones, and getting feedback from nearly two dozen experts.” U.S. Army Fort Belvoir and Clark Realty Capital unveiled the homes on Nov. 30, 2011, in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Using the principles of Universal Design and Design Thinking, the design team and architects listened to everyone’s stories and developed “an adaptable home for specific physical, mental, and emotional needs that also fit into the context of everyday life.”

Watch the video below and learn more about the design of the homes for wounded warriors at Fort Belvoir.

  You may also choose to listen to the NPR story from Feb 14, 2012.

Select this link to read the NPR_Transcript_BuildingBetterHouses

For more information about how design thinking can be applied to education, go to this site and learn more about the process.

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