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Ramp house: Architects build wheelchair-friendly family home

Architect couple build new home around needs of their eight-year-old wheelchair-using daughter

An architect couple has designed and built this £247,000 ‘barrier-free, fully accessible’ home to meet the needs of their daughter, who has cerebral palsy.

The family home in Portobello, Edinburgh, by Thea McMillan of emerging practice Chambers McMillan and her husband Ian, who works for BDP in Glasgow, includes a ramp for eight-year-old Greta, who is a wheelchair user.

The 145m² scheme was delivered with Michael Collins, of family friends Oliver Chapman Architects and the pair used models to involve their two children throughout the design process.

Ian McMillan said: ‘This house has made a difference to our everyday life: for a child who cannot move around independently, the connectivity of the spaces becomes all the more important.

‘If Greta is in the living room, there are six different spaces that we can be in and move between, and she is still able to see and hear us, and communicate with us. Because of the articulation of the different spaces within the open plan, there are many opportunities for privacy and seclusion while still being part of the life of the house.

He added: ‘It has been crucial to us that we remain in the centre of our community. Greta has been here since she was born, and building this house here, has enabled her to remain a loved part of Portobello.

‘Our accessible family home allows her friends to come and play in a built environment designed to enable her to play just like any other eight-year-old.

‘The wider impact of an inclusive house like this is that people who come to visit us experience a different way of moving around a house, and understand that accessibility does not need to be about constrictions, but can be a delight.’

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