Planning a construction project, however large or small, involves making a huge number of decisions. When designing a building there are many aspects to consider, from the client’s needs and wishes, to the impact it will have on the surrounding environment, and the goals of the practice itself to break barriers and innovate.
Standardisation of design however is what keeps things in order, and prevents problems with users of the proposed building, and neighbours alike. This standardisation comes in the form of the government’s Building Regulations, and is crucial not only to ensure your project meets its legal requirements, but that it functions effectively and safely for its residents.
A building’s entrance must meet the criteria of Buildings Regulations Approved Document M (Access to and Use of Buildings) to which some updates for England and Wales were made in 2015, and guidelines set out in BS8300:2001 for disabled access in line with The Equality Act 2010, the latter of which there are many other factors (beyond entrance design) that need to be met for compliance.
‘In the Secretary of State’s view the requirements of part M will be met by making reasonable provision to ensure that buildings are accessible and usable. People regardless of disability, age or gender, should be able to gain access to buildings and to gain access within buildings and their facilities, both as a visitor and as people who live or work in them.” Extract from Building Regulations Approved Document part M.
DDA (Disability Discrimination Act)
The materials doors are made of, the way they open and close, door opening clearance, the weight and force of doors, their visibility, the hardware and handles they feature, all need to be considered in an entrance design. Some glass doors can create problems for the visually impaired. Door entry systems should be accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing, and have visual contrast for the visually impaired. Disabled access should not be impeded in any way.
This includes the type of entrance matting system that is installed. Surfaces need to be level to allow for wheel chair access, so coir matting (which has been the traditional entrance mat material) is not deemed suitable for compliance. Where there are mat wells, the surface of the mat needs to be level with the surface of the adjacent floor finish.
From a practical point of view, a well-designed entrance area should not be exposed to too many draughts, which can occur when doors are constantly opening. This needs to be considered in the design. Installation of doors also has to be in accordance with Approved Document K.
It’s relatively straightforward to ensure your building’s entrance meets regulation, especially when designing from scratch. The key aspect to consider in relation to entrance matting is floor level, and ensuring a flush surface when transitioning from one zone to the next.