TECNALIA Research & Innovation has participated in the Flexidesc project by specifying a furnishing concept in which design, space management and user interaction are combined to devise a home that is accessible and adapted to anyone with reduced mobility.
That way, users can avoid having to move out of their homes owing to physical limitations. In the development of this project Tecnalia has worked with the company SELLEX and the Matia Institute for Gerontology INGEMA.
The space needed for a person in a wheelchair to move around has been analysed, and a new range of flexible products that maximize the space available in the home have been developed. That way, the person's basic storage and rest needs can be resolved without reducing the space needed for him or her to move around. Throughout the design and development process, and obviously in the testing and validation phase, the involvement of the end users has been constant. This presence guarantees compliance with all the requirements and the true usefulness of the furniture designed.
The needs analysis has set out to design totally innovative systems for storage and rest in which each element can be moved or stowed away, thus contributing towards the increase in the space available to the user. This project has succeeded in "freeing up" space in the bedroom to facilitate the moving around of disabled people by means of folding or sliding furniture. Therefore, the minimum surface needed to move around freely inside the bedroom is considerably less, and this offers a considerable degree of flexibility in the adaptation of private homes as well as of hotels and residential homes. Moving the furniture does not require any effort on the part of the user, since electro-mechanical drive systems have been incorporated into the furniture so that the user can carry out the necessary actions by means of a remote-controlled device.
The final result is a flexible system for rest and storage that satisfactorily meets the users' needs, while complying with the criteria existing on global accessibility set out by the UNE 170001-2 standard, and allowing easy, comfortable access for people with reduced mobility.
Tests on the bed and cupboard were carried out with end users. Among the users who tested the product were people with motor functional impairment from the Matia Foundation's IZA centre who use wheelchairs to get around. As regards the bed, the participants remarked that they found it easy or very easy to operate. The participants also felt that the fact that the bed was a folding, articulated one was very useful. As regards the cupboard, the participants felt that the fact that it could be raised and lowered was very useful. In short, the participants in the pilot tests indicated that Flexidesc furniture was a good system for saving space.
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