Factoring accessibility into future infrastructure projects

While the women and equalities committee in parliament examines the accessibility of infrastrucutre, Nathan Massey ponders the accessibility of skyscrapers, urging this to be considered in the design and planning process.

Advancements in engineering have seen many structures which adorn our skylines increase in size. We’re looking at taller buildings which require more details within the design process when it comes to their physical structure and usability, which often means looking at the finer details of what the requirements of the building should be, to serve the desired purpose.

As with any infrastructure project, a building that is being planned and designed must abide by Government regulations which outline requirements regarding accessibility; this breed of continuously taller buildings are no exception. 

Accessibility solutions in these buildings should be implemented during the design and planning stage to ensure that the infrastructure project is in compliance with the current law, as well as client pressures for accessibility and safety.

The Current Law

The UK regulations which are currently in place state that the “design of buildings and their approaches are to meet the needs of disabled people” according to the BS 8300:2001.

It is essential that the accessibility of those who have issues with their mobility is being thought of, in any kind of infrastructure project, whether it is an industrial building or domestic residence. 

Architects will need to address the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and the Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations 2010; implementing solutions to enable people with disabilities to access the building with ease and without hindrance.

Even if a building is one floor, it is not exempt from these regulations, and the appropriate action must be taken to ensure that the public areas in particular are adequately accessible to all people – no matter what level of mobility they may have.

Will This Change in the Future?

Looking forward to the future of engineering and architecture, it is important to factor in the increased height of new buildings which are being planned. As these buildings continue to reach incredible heights, it’s only natural to wonder how accessible these buildings will be.

In fact, the introduction of mobility systems, such as lifts, are essentially standard within these buildings, partially due to the sheer heights that users are required to travel.

The Jeddah Tower is set to be completed in 2020, and is expected to stand at around 3,307 feet tall, breaking the world record for the world’s tallest building. It is predicted that this structure will contain 59 elevators in total and twelve escalators to provide easy accessibility to all parts of the structure.

Safety is also an issue with buildings this tall, and to combat the pressure that visitors to these heights will experience, Jeddah Tower is said to have lifts which won’t operate at the same speed as standard elevators, as this could potentially cause nausea. It is also proposed that none of the elevators will go directly to the top of the tower, eliminating the need for huge cables.

Along with this, lift technology is having to advance, too, with manufacturers looking for ways to meet the demands of these super-high buildings, as well as the loads which they will be expected to carry at speed.

With such trends, accessibility is becoming more prominent factors considered in the engineering and architectural industries, not only for those with mobility issues, but for everyone.

Without the use of accessibility aids, from elevators to escalators, reaching these heights would not only be difficult, but impossible.


Nathan Massey is Marketing Manager at Axess2; providers of a range of bespoke and durable access solutions for both the commercial and domestic markets.