Transcript for presentation:

How to improve accessibility in historical buildings


Niina Kilpelä


E4. Accessibility in the built environment

Date and Time

2014-06-18, 11:10 - 11:30


MA 6

Presentation PDF

Short oral presentation

Transcript of the talk

>> So the next topic will be how to improve accessibility in historical buildings. That has been a topic already earlier in this conference, and Niina Kilpelä will talk about the home of John Sibelius who was a famous composer in the last century and how it has been made accessible.

>> Hello, everyone. My name is Niina Kilpelä and I’m working as an architect. I have very impressive title, how to improve accessibility in historical buildings to deal within 15 minutes. So I have chosen one example.
First shortly the history and facts and Ainola residence and then take up the accessibility orders we’ve been conducting and then I will have a DVD presentation about the residence with me, which includes the architect’s comments on the design work.

The Ainola residence is the home of the Sibelius and designed by an architect for one of the greatest symphony composers of all time. The house was completed in 1904. The lower floor had a study, dining room, kitchen and a room for servants. The upper floor was completed some years later and comprised a bedroom for the parents and a study with a view to the lake.
So from the home, it has turned into a museum, which is now open for the — the lower floor is open to the public during the summer months. So Ainola, the home to the Sibelius for 16 years and the interiors and furnishings date from various decades and the present state of Ainola is an authentic representation of the house from the ’60s, like 10 years after Sibelius’ death.
The accessibility order was carried out in 2008 and I was responsible for it, and it included the accessibility of moving, seeing, hearing and understanding both within the buildings as well as in the surrounding areas. And the method that we used was just described. This time we had to focus on visitors’ point of view. The main entrance turned out to be the biggest barrier. Of course, the road to the museum is quite steep as well. We had several suggestions to improve accessibility such as accessibility parking places, accessibility entrance to museum itself, accessibility toilet somewhere at the area, using induction in the ticket booth and museum. And adding benches for places to rest.
So the accessibility audit report we made was used as data for the design. After careful studies a platform lift was mounted at the entrance.
The accessibility improvements were designed by architects in cooperation. The cafe and accessibility toilets were located in the service building and a lot was done, but the landscape still remains challenging. If necessary, the museum can be reached by the car.
Here is the picture of the main entrance to Ainola with the level differences before the changes. And here is almost a similar picture after the changes. You can hardly notice any difference at all. The new platform lift is mounted on the left side of the stairs, still well hidden when the gate is closed. It’s only when opening the gate when you see the glimpse of the lift itself.
From the side of the terrace up there, it’s part of the flow out to the terrace, well hidden as well. At the same time there were new handrails added to the stairs. And to get a little bit better view, we could continue with the DVD.

[ video playing ]

>> So the credit of the DVD goes to the Association of People can Physical Disabilities. I would like to thank you for your attention. If there are questions tab accessibility audit or the process, I will be happy to answer.


>> Hello. Thank you for the presentation. I have a question about the lift to the house. According to Swedish rules of accessibility, you have to be able to manage the lift by yourself. But I could see that the person in the wheelchair had to have a helper to get on the lift. So I wonder, why is it that way? What was the idea about it?
>> Well, you can maneuver the lift yourself. There’s a remote control that she was holding. You can use it yourself as well. It’s just the challenge in part of this blocking away this part to open the gate.
>> Yeah, it was a problem with the bench on the side.
>> Yeah, it is —
>> So it was inaccessible.
>> I agree it’s not perfect. I think in this case it’s not that problematic as it would be somewhere else. I wouldn’t recommend this kind of a thing somewhere else, public buildings, but here you contact the staff already while you’re in the area buying tickets and they’re aware you’re coming and they are taking it for granted that you’ll get assisted. You are not entering the building on your own whether you’re able-bodied or not.
>> Thank you
>> There’s a place for a few more questions or you’re just waiting for the lunch now?


>> There is one question.
>> Hello. I’m from Iceland. Thank you for the presentation. The movie, will it be on YouTube?
>> Now I have to ask my colleagues. I don’t think it’s on YouTube, but are there still copies to buy about this DVD?
Are there some examples left?
They are saying yes.
>> I would like to, if possible, to have one.
>> Please contact me. The DVD includes several different examples about our facility.
>> No more?
>> Is there only a physical access, wheelchair access or there any accessibility provision for other disabilities as well?
>> The main focus on this one was on the accessibility, like physical access, but they have been doing some changes about the accessibility of hearing as well with different kind of methods for hearing loops and things like that as well as in their services, which were not mentioned here as well, but I have to say, the focus is on the physical accessibility. And that is one of the parts of the process at the moment, but I think that was the huge challenge we had, that the idea of very historical buildings, that they want to preserve — to show it’s possible to make it accessible even here.

>> I’m just curious to know, the cost of the platform lift that you used, approximately. Do you know?
>> I will have to say I don’t know at the moment, but it’s not a normal lift, so I don’t think — it wasn’t any special amount. I don’t dare to say because I don’t know. Somebody asked earlier about this audit method and about all the measurements. As we used the same method here, I would like to add that the more experienced you get, the easier you have to see like how much you’re measuring. So it’s a lot of effort, but…
>> But you don’t discover things that you can’t measure?
>> Well, as was mentioned, some of this accessibility of the visual environment and that kind of things, they can’t be really measured. You have to somehow just try to compare them, and we got good guidance to that as well.

>> So if this was the final question — nobody feels for questioning more, I want to thank all the presenters for their interesting presentations. And also the audience for joining us this morning.
So I hope you will have a nice lunch.
[ Session concluded ]


Rough edited copy by AVA AB and Certec, LTH

Remote CART provided by: Alternative Communication Services, LLC (

This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.