Understanding Wheelchair Metrics

Wheelchair metrics are something that needs to be understood when researching into such a broad topic. For me as an Interior Designer, it is crucial that I know the heights and widths needed to accommodate a wheelchair passing comfortably through an area when it comes to planning out an interior. After reading through regulations and measurements, I have hand-drawn these to help myself when it comes to designing an accessible interior. I have written the scale measurement next to each drawing as a guidance for size.

There are standard disability metric systems when working on an interior space, I have drawn these from the Portsmouth City Council – ‘Design guide for wheelchair accessible housing’ (2006) and Building Regulations Part M (2010) Category 3 – ‘Wheelchair user dwellings’ :                                                                                                                                  Turning Circle – 1500mm                                                                                                                      Door Widths – 850mm – 900mm                                                                                                              Plug Heights –  450mm from floor                                                                                                            Light Switches – 1200mm from floor

Handrawn metrics. Milenkovic. A (2018)

I understand that I have drawn an example of a toilet cubicle that may not have the turning circle circumference in it, but it is accessible for those who transfer off and on the toilet, and the door swings outwards.


Understanding Regulations

Why do we have building regulations? – Building Regulations are put in place to ensure that buildings are designed and built safely in accordance with Building Regulations and Building Legislation, which are developed and approved by the Government and Parliament.

Over the past week, I have been researching into wheelchair accessibility and mobility. The reason for this section of research is for me to better my understanding of the everyday problems a person with a disability may experience. To do this I must look at building regulations, measurements, observations and studies of how an interior space is used, by a disabled user in residential and commercial buildings.

Residential – ‘Designed for people to live in’ – Oxford Dictionary (2018)

Commercial – ‘Making or intended to make a profit’ – Oxford Dictionary (2018)

Before reading the regulation booklets, I already knew a considerable amount of information on the space and dimensions that are needed for wheelchair accessibility. My reason for choosing the following three regulation booklets are they are all pitching the same information about regulations but each poses a different area of concern, from residential to commercial.

For example, the Portsmouth City Council focuses on housing accessibility for wheelchair users; including comfortable measurements that allow a wheelchair user to move around their house adequately.


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‘Design guide for wheelchair accessible housing’ – Portsmouth City Council (2006)


This HM Government Building Regulations 2010, Part M, is a government-approved document that goes into detail about dwellings.

Dwelling: A house, flat or other places of residence – Oxford Dictionary (2018)

Residential accommodation can be adapted to the needs of the user, so a document like this will clearly inform those that may need to make changes to help themselves to live an easier life from the comfort of their own home.

Whereas commercial building design regulations will have been thoroughly thought through and set in the plan before the erection of the building. It is a lot harder to modify a commercial building once it has been completed and furnished due to major works. But those living with a disability will benefit these changes in order to help them live comfortably.

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Building Regulations – Dwellings Part M. 2010 (2015 Edition)


The last regulations booklet I have read is the Disability Access Standards from the University of Edinburgh. The main focus of this set of regulations is commercial design. These kinds of regulations should be followed in a public space to allow easy accessibility and mobility for individuals with a disability.

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Disability Access Standards – University of Edinburgh (Janurary 2015)

These ‘Disability Access Standards’  have helped me in understanding how different commercial and residential spaces need to be from each other in order to accommodate all kinds of people. It gives a clear divide of what dimensions are needed in a public space and a residential space.



Dwelling definition – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/dwelling                         Residential definition – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/residential                     Commercial definition – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/commercial