Design principles in housing for people with complex physical and cognitive disability: towards an integrated framework for practice

Courtney J. Wright, Heidi Zeeman, Jennifer A. Whitty

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To develop a research-based environmental framework to guide the design and construction of suitable residential dwellings for individuals with complex disability. An environmental approach to housing design and development recognises that there are physical, psychological and social components relating to housing design, dwelling location and the neighbourhood context, and that these elements interact to affect the physical, psychological, and social wellness of individuals. Following theoretical review and synthesis, a comprehensive set of design features that are conducive to residents’ wellness and quality of life are described. It is clear that housing design and development for people with complex disability ought to consider the physical, social, natural, symbolic, and care environment in relation to housing design, dwelling location, and the neighbourhood context for improved housing outcomes. An integrated housing design and development framework is presented. It is hoped this practical matrix/evaluative tool will inform future inclusive housing design and development decisions in Australia and internationally. The application of this framework is especially relevant to political climates striving to achieve design innovation to increase housing choice for people with complex disability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339–360
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Housing and the Built Environment
Issue number2
Early online date26 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • High care needs
  • Housing design
  • Housing policy
  • Neurological disability
  • Disability
  • housing
  • Social housing

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