Accessibility does not only concern the guests visiting the lower floor but the whole house and those working there as well.
As Atso Ahonen rolls his wheelchair along the gentle slope of the ramp towards the main entrance of Puistokatu 4, the doors open as if by themselves. Crossing the lowered threshold is effortless, and right after the entrance there is an elevator which takes you to the lower floors of the building.
At the beginning of this year there were still two old, heavy doors, a high threshold and a cramped vestibule. Back then, the building was not yet wheelchair accessible. Then Riesa Consultative, the accessibility consulting firm where Ahonen works, was chosen to join the house’s renovation.
Riesa was already consulted in December 2021, when a challenge had been encountered in improving the house’s accessibility: the entrance could not be made accessible solely through guide signs or basic solutions. The vestibule was sized in a way that allowed little room for changes.
What made the situation even more difficult was that the old house and its exterior were protected by the city.
“I must praise the people of Puistokatu 4. They were clearly willing to make the house genuinely accessible,” says Joel Hentunen, Riesa’s representative for the accessibility solutions of the built environment.
Riesa supported the main architect and the building contractor in planning the solution. Now the main door of the house is motion detector operated, and the elevator, which was added to the building during the renovation, is directly accessible from the vestibule. All three floors of the building and the cellar are accessible by elevator. Elevator controls are placed at an accessible height and the elevator doors open in two directions.
There is an accessible toilet/child care room on Floor 1. An induction loop is available in the Library (Floor 1) and the Gym (Floor 2).
Accessibility requirements have also been taken into account in the guide signs and threshold ramps of the house. Not all of the thresholds of the old house could be lowered, so customised ramps were ordered from a carpenter to ensure the accessibility of movement.
Accessibility does not only concern the guests visiting the lower floor but the whole house and those working there as well: all three floors are wheelchair accessible and there are adjustable electric tables at the work stations.
“Accessibility has been comprehensively implemented at Puistokatu,” summarise Hentunen and Ahonen.