Section 3: Horizontal and vertical circulation in buildings other than dwellings

  1. Section 3

    Section 3

    OBJECTIVE

    3.1 The objective is for all people to travel vertically and horizontally within buildings conveniently and without discomfort in order to make use of all relevant facilities. This objective relates in the main, but not exclusively, to the
    provision of sufficient space for wheelchair manoeuvre and design features that make it possible for people to travel independently within buildings.

    Entrance hall and reception area

    Design considerations

    3.2 As the entrance hall is the first point of contact with a building’s activities and resources, the reception area in particular should not only be easily accessible but also convenient to use.

    3.3 Where a service building has a reception or sales counter, there should be convenient access to it and part of it should be at a level suitable for a wheelchair user or a seated person. Any lower section should also be wheelchair-accessible on the reception side.

    3.4 Designers should also be aware that glazed screens in front of the reception point, or light sources or reflective wall surfaces, such as glazed screens, located behind the reception point, could compromise the ability of a person with
    a hearing impairment to lip read or follow sign language.

    3.5 It should be possible for information about the building to be easily obtained from a reception point or gathered from notice boards and signs.

    Note: Guidance on aids to communication is available in BS 8300, and on the use of signs in the Sign design guide.

    Provisions

    3.6 An entrance hall and reception area will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if:

    a. any reception point is located away from the principal entrance (while still providing a view of it) where there is a risk that external noise will be a problem;

    b. any reception point is easily identifiable from the entrance doors or lobby, and the approach to it is direct and free from obstructions;

    c. the design of the approach to any reception point allows space for wheelchair users to gain access to the reception point;

    d. the clear manoeuvring space in front of any reception desk or counter is 1200mm deep and 1800mm wide if there is a knee recess at least 500mm deep, or 1400mm deep and 2200mm wide if there is no knee recess;

    e. any reception desk or counter is designed to accommodate both standing and seated visitors such that at least one section of the counter is at least 1500mm wide, with its surface no higher than 760mm, and a knee recess, not less than 700mm, above floor level;

    f. any reception point is provided with a hearing enhancement system, e.g. an induction loop;

    g. the floor surface is slip resistant.

    Internal doors

    Design considerations

    3.7 Since doors are potential barriers, their use should be avoided whenever appropriate. If doors are required, the use of self-closing devices should be minimised (particularly in parts of buildings used by the general public) since, as described in 2.14, they disadvantage many people who have limited upper body strength, are pushing prams or are carrying heavy objects. Where closing devices are needed for fire control, electrically powered hold-open devices or swing-free closing devices should be used as appropriate. These are devices whose closing mechanism is only activated in case of emergency. Low energy powered door systems may be used in locations not subject to frequent use or heavy traffic as the opening and closing action is relatively slow.

    3.8 The presence of doors, whether open or closed, should be apparent to visually impaired people through the careful choice of colour and material for the door and its surroundings. For example, when a door is open, people with impaired sight should be able to identify the door opening within the wall, as well as the leading edge of the door.

    3.9 Other design considerations for internal doors are as set out in 2.14 to 2.16 under ‘Manually operated non-powered entrance doors’ and should be referred to for guidance.

    Note: Guidance is available in BS 8300 on:
    – electrically powered hold-open devices
    – swing-free systems
    – low energy powered door systems.

    Provisions

    3.10 Internal doors will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if:

    a. where needing to be opened manually, the opening force at the leading edge of the door is not more than 30N from 0° (the door in the closed position) to 30° open, and not more than 22.5N from 30° to 60° of the opening cycle;

    b. the effective clear width through a single leaf door, or one leaf of a double leaf door, is in accordance with Table 2 and Diagram 9;

    c. there is an unobstructed space of at least 300mm on the pull side of the door between the leading edge of the door and any return wall, unless the door has power-controlled opening or it provides access to a standard hotel bedroom;

    d. where fitted with a latch, the door opening furniture can be operated with one hand using a closed fist, e.g. a lever handle;

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    e. all door opening furniture contrasts visually with the surface of the door;

    f. the door frames contrast visually with the surrounding wall;

    g. the surface of the leading edge of any door that is not self-closing, or is likely to be held open, contrasts visually with the other door surfaces and its surroundings;

    h. where appropriate in door leaves or side panels wider than 450mm, vision panels towards the leading edge of the door have vertical dimensions which include at least the minimum zone, or zones, of visibility between 500mm and 1500mm from the floor, if necessary interrupted between 800mm and 1150mm above the floor, e.g. to accommodate an intermediate horizontal rail (see Approved Document K, Section 10);

    i. when of glass, they are clearly defined with manifestation on the glass that complies with Approved Document K, section 7;

    j. when of glass or fully glazed, they are clearly differentiated from any adjacent glazed wall or partition by the provision of a high-contrast strip at the top and on both sides;

    k. fire doors, particularly those in corridors, are held open with an electro-magnetic device, but self-close when:
    – activated by smoke detectors linked to the door individually, or to a main fire/ smoke alarm system;
    – the power supply fails;
    – activated by a hand-operated switch;

    l. fire doors, particularly to individual rooms, are fitted with swing-free devices that close when activated by smoke detectors or the building’s fire alarm system, or when the power supply fails;

    m. any low energy powered swing door system is capable of being operated in manual mode, in powered mode or in power-assisted mode.

    Corridors and passageways

    Design considerations

    3.11 Corridors and passageways should be wide enough to allow people with buggies, people carrying cases or people on crutches to pass others on the access route. Wheelchair users should also have access to adjacent rooms and spaces, be able to pass other people and, where necessary, turn through 180°. Corridors narrower than indicated in this guidance, or localised narrowing (e.g. at archways), might be reasonable in some locations, such as in existing buildings or in some extensions.

    3.12 In order to help people with visual impairment to appreciate the size of a space they have entered, or to find their way around, there should be a visual contrast between the wall and the ceiling, and between the wall and the floor. Such attention to surface finishes should be coupled with good natural and artificial lighting design.

    3.13 Good acoustic design should be employed to achieve an acoustic environment that is neither too reverberant nor too absorbent so that announcements and conversations can be heard clearly.

    Provisions

    3.14 Corridors and passageways will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if:

    a. elements such as columns, radiators and fire hoses do not project into the corridor, or where this is unavoidable, a means of directing people around them, such as a visually contrasting guard rail, is provided;

    b. they have an unobstructed width (excluding any projections into the space) along their length of at least 1200mm;

    c. where they have an unobstructed width of less than 1800mm, they have passing places at least 1800mm long and with an unobstructed width of at least 1800mm at reasonable intervals, e.g. at corridor junctions, to allow wheelchair users to pass each other;

    d. the floor is level or predominantly level (with a gradient no steeper than 1:60), with any section with a gradient of 1:20 or steeper designed as an internal ramp and in accordance with Table 1 and Diagram 3;

    e. where a section of the floor has a gradient, in the direction of travel, steeper than 1:60, but less steep than 1:20, it rises no more than 500mm without a level rest area at least 1500mm long (with a gradient no steeper than 1:60);

    f. any sloping section extends the full width of the corridor or, if not, the exposed edge is clearly identified by visual contrast and, where necessary, protected by guarding;

    g. any door opening towards a corridor, which is a major access route or an escape route, should be recessed so that, when fully open, it does not project into the corridor space, except where the doors are to minor utility facilities, such as small store rooms and locked duct cupboards;

    h. any door from a unisex wheelchair- accessible toilet projects when open into a corridor that is not a major access route or an escape route, provided the corridor is at least 1800mm wide at that point;

    i. on a major access route or an escape route, the wider leaf of a series of double doors with leaves of unequal width is on the same side of the corridor throughout the length of the corridor;

    j. floor surface finishes with patterns that could be mistaken for steps or changes of level are avoided;

    k. floor finishes are slip resistant;

    l. any glazed screens alongside a corridor are clearly defined with manifestation on the glass that complies with Approved Document K, section 7.

    Note: In respect of 3.14(b), for school buildings, the preferred corridor width dimension is 2700mm where there are lockers within the corridor.

    Internal lobbies

    Design considerations

    3.15 An internal lobby should allow a wheelchair user, with or without a companion, or a person pushing a pram or buggy to move clear of one door before attempting to open the second door, as indicated in 2.27, under ‘External lobbies’.

    Provisions

    3.16 Internal lobbies will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if:

    a. their length with single swing doors is in accordance with Diagram 10;

    b. their length with double swing doors is at least (DP1 + DP2 + 1570mm);
    c. their width (excluding any projections into the space) is at least 1200mm (or (DL1 or DL2) + 300mm) whichever is the greater when single leaf doors are used, and at least 1800mm when double leaf doors are used;

    d. glazing within the lobby does not create distracting reflections;
    e. any junctions of floor surface materials at the entrance to the lobby area do not create a potential trip hazard;

    f. any columns, ducts and similar full height elements that project into the lobby by more than 100mm are protected by a visually contrasting guard rail.

    Vertical circulation within the building

    Design considerations

    3.17 A passenger lift is the most suitable means of vertical access and should be provided wherever possible. However, given the space constraints in some buildings, it may not always be possible to install the type and size of passenger lift that would be suitable for use by all, and other options may need to be considered to provide for users with mobility impairments.

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    3.18 Signs indicating the location of a lifting device accessible by mobility-
    impaired people should be clearly visible from the building entrance. Additionally, a sign identifying the floor reached should be provided on each landing in a location that can be easily seen from the lifting device and is designed so that it contrasts visually with its surrounding.

    3.19 Whatever lifting device is chosen, internal stairs should always be provided as an alternative means of vertical access, and designed to suit ambulant disabled people and those with impaired sight.

    3.20 A ramp may also be provided on an internal circulation route to a suitable lifting device, if a change of level is unavoidable.

    Provision of lifting devices

    Design considerations

    3.21 For all buildings, a passenger lift is the most suitable form of access for
    people moving from one storey to another.

    3.22 For existing buildings, and in exceptional circumstances for new developments with particular constraints (e.g. a listed building or an infill site in a historic town centre), where a passenger lift cannot be accommodated, a vertical lifting platform (platform lift), although not equivalent to a passenger lift, may be considered as an alternative option to provide access for persons with impaired mobility.

    3.23 In exceptional circumstances in an existing building, a wheelchair platform stairlift may be considered, provided its installation does not conflict with requirements for means of escape.

    Provisions

    3.24 The provision of lifting devices will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if:
    a. new developments have a passenger lift serving all storeys;

    b. new developments, where due to site constraints a passenger lift cannot be accommodated to provide access to persons with impaired mobility, have a lifting platform, of a type designed for the vertical height to be travelled;

    c. existing buildings have a passenger lift serving all storeys or, if a passenger lift cannot reasonably be accommodated to provide access to persons with impaired mobility, they have a lifting platform, of a type designed for the vertical height to be travelled;

    d. existing buildings have a wheelchair platform stairlift serving an intermediate level or a single storey, only in exceptional circumstances.

    General requirements for lifting devices

    Design considerations

    3.25 In selecting the appropriate lifting device care should be taken to ensure it is fit for purpose. Relevant legislation includes the Lift Regulations 1997 SI 1997/831, the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2307, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2306 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 SI 1999/3242.

    3.26 The illumination in the passenger lift car, on the lifting platform or on the
    wheelchair platform stairlift should minimise glare, reflection, confusing shadows or pools of light and dark.

    3.27 All users including wheelchair users should be able to reach and use the controls that summon and direct the lifting device.

    Note: Further guidance is available in BS 8300.

    Provisions

    3.28 The installation of lifting devices will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if:

    a. there is an unobstructed manoeuvring space of 1500mm x 1500mm, or a straight access route 900mm wide, in front of each lifting device;

    b. the landing call buttons are located between 900mm and 1100mm from the floor of the landing and at least 500mm from any return wall;

    c. the landing call button symbols, where provided, and lifting device control button symbols are raised to facilitate tactile reading;

    d. all call and control buttons contrast visually with the surrounding face plate, and the face plate similarly contrasts with the surface on which it is mounted;

    e. the floor of the lifting device should not be of a dark colour and should have frictional qualities similar to, or higher than, the floor of the landing;

    f. a handrail is provided on at least one wall of the lifting device with its top surface at 900mm (nominal) above the floor and located so that it does not obstruct the controls or the mirror;

    g. a suitable emergency communication system is fitted.

    Passenger lifts

    Design considerations

    3.29 A wheelchair user needs sufficient space and time to enter and leave a passenger lift, particularly when sharing it with other people. Lift sizes should
    therefore be chosen to suit the anticipated density of use of the building and the needs of disabled people. The minimum size lift car shown in the provisions below accommodates a wheelchair user with an accompanying person. A larger lift size (2000mm wide by 1400mm deep) will accommodate any type of wheelchair together with several other passengers. It will also allow a wheelchair user or a person with a walking frame to turn through 180°.

    3.30 Lift door systems should be designed to allow adequate time for people, and any assistance dogs, to enter or leave the lift without coming into contact with closing doors.

    3.31 People using or waiting for a lift need audible and visual information to tell them that a lift has arrived, which floor it has reached and where in a bank of lifts it is located.

    3.32 The use of visually and acoustically reflective wall surfaces can cause discomfort for people with visual and hearing impairment.

    3.33 Where planning allows, lift cars (used for access between two levels only) may be provided with opposing doors to allow a wheelchair user to leave without reversing out.

    Provisions

    3.34 Passenger lifts will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if:

    a. they conform to the requirements of the Lift Regulations 1997, SI 1997/831
    (Note: These regulations may be met by compliance with, among other things, the relevant British Standards, EN 81 series of standards, in particular BS EN 81-70:2003 Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts. Particular applications for passenger and good passenger lifts, or, where necessary,
    by product certification issued by a Notified Body);

    b. they are accessible from the remainder of the storey;

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    c. the minimum dimensions of the lift cars are 1100mm wide and 1400mm deep (see Diagram 11);

    d. for lifts of a size that does not allow a wheelchair user to turn around within the lift car, a mirror is provided in the lift car to enable a wheelchair user to see the space behind the wheelchair;

    e. power-operated horizontal sliding doors provide an effective clear width of at least 800mm (nominal);

    f. doors are fitted with timing devices and re-opening activators to allow adequate time for people and any assistance dogs to enter or leave;

    g. car controls are located between 900mm and 1200mm (preferably 1100mm) from the car floor and at least 400mm from any return wall;

    h. landing call buttons are located between 900mm and 1100mm from the floor of the landing and at least 500mm from any return wall;

    i. lift landing and car doors are distinguishable visually from the adjoining walls;

    11 key dimensions associated with passenger lifts

    Diagram 11 key dimensions associated with passenger lifts

    j. audible and visual indication of lift arrival and location is provided in the lift car and the lift lobby;

    k. areas of glass are identifiable by people with impaired vision;

    l. where the lift is to be used to evacuate disabled people in an emergency, it conforms to the relevant recommendations of BS 5588-8.

    Lifting platforms

    Design considerations

    3.35 A lifting platform should only be provided to transfer wheelchair users, people with impaired mobility and their companions vertically between levels or storeys.

    3.36 All users including wheelchair users should be able to reach and use the controls that summon and direct the lifting platform.

    3.37 People using or waiting for a lifting platform need audible and visual information to tell them that the platform has arrived, and which floor it has reached.

    3.38 Lifting platforms travel slowly between landings and may not be suitable for lone users with certain disabilities, e.g. those easily fatigued.

    3.39 Lifting platforms are operated by continuous pressure controls. In their simplest form these may be push buttons. However, another means of continuous pressure control may need to be considered to accommodate the needs of users with varying degrees of manual dexterity.

    3.40 It is important when selecting a lifting platform that due care and attention is paid to its intended use particularly if located in an unsupervised environment. Where management control cannot be exercised, particular attention should be paid to the product’s designed duty cycle.

    3.41 Where planning allows, lifting platforms may be provided with opposing doors when used for access between two levels only, to allow a wheelchair user to leave without reversing out. In some cases, it may be more convenient to provide a second door at 90° to the first, in which case a wider platform would be required.

    3.42 The use of visually and acoustically reflective wall surfaces should be minimised within the lifting platform to prevent discomfort for people with visual and hearing impairment.

    Provisions

    3.43 Lifting platforms will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if:

    a. they conform to the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992, SI 1992/3073 (Note: These regulations may be met by compliance, among other things, with the relevant British Standards, EN81 series of standards or, where necessary, by product certification issued by a Notified Body. In the absence of relevant harmonised European Standards, products with
    a travel exceeding 3m must have a product certificate issued by a Notified Body);

    b. the vertical travel distance is:
    i. not more than 2m, where there is no liftway enclosure and no floor penetration;
    ii. more than 2m, where there is a liftway enclosure;

    c. the rated speed of the platform does not exceed 0.15m/s;
    d. lifting platform controls are located between 800mm and 1100mm from the floor of the lifting platform and at least 400mm from any return wall;
    e. continuous pressure controls are provided;
    f. landing call buttons are located between 900mm and 1100mm from the floor of the landing and at least 500mm from any return wall;
    g. the minimum clear dimensions of the platform are:
    i. 800mm wide and 1250mm deep, where the lifting platform is not enclosed and where provision is being made for an unaccompanied wheelchair user;
    ii. 900mm wide and 1400mm deep, where the lifting platform is enclosed and where provision is being made for an unaccompanied wheelchair user;
    iii. 1100mm wide and 1400mm deep where two doors are located at 90° relative to each other and where the lifting platform is enclosed or where provision is being made for an accompanied wheelchair user;
    h. doors have an effective clear width of at least 900mm for an 1100mm wide and 1400mm deep lifting platform and at least 800mm in other cases;
    i. they are fitted with clear instructions for use;
    j. the lifting platform entrances are accessible from the remainder of the storey;
    k. doors are distinguishable visually from the adjoining walls;
    l. an audible and visual announcement of platform arrival and level reached is provided;
    m. areas of glass are identifiable by people with impaired vision.

    Wheelchair platform stairlifts

    Design considerations

    3.44 Wheelchair platform stairlifts are only intended for the transportation of wheelchair users and should only be considered for conversions and alterations where it is not practicable to install a conventional passenger lift or a lifting platform. Such stairlifts travel up the string of a stair. They should not be installed where their operation restricts the safe use of the stair by other people.

    3.45 A wheelchair platform stairlift allows a wheelchair user to travel independently up and down stairs while remaining seated in a wheelchair. A wheelchair platform stairlift may be more suitable for use in small areas with a unique function, e.g. a small library gallery, a staff rest room or a training room.

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    3.46 Wheelchair platform stairlifts travel slowly between landings and may not be suitable for users with certain disabilities, e.g. those easily fatigued.

    3.47 Wheelchair platform stairlifts are operated by continuous pressure controls, commonly a joystick. However, another means of continuous pressure control may need to be considered to accommodate users with varying degrees of manual dexterity.

    3.48 Wheelchair platform stairlifts are only suitable where users can be instructed in their safe use and where management supervision can be ensured.

    Provisions

    3.49 Wheelchair platform stairlifts will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if

    a. they conform to the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992, SI 1992/3073 (Note: These regulations may be met by compliance, among other things, with the relevant British Standards, EN81 series of standards or where necessary Notified Body approval);

    b. in a building with a single stairway, the required clear width of the flight of
    stairs and landings for means of escape is maintained when the wheelchair platform is in the parked position (see also Approved Document B);

    c. the rated speed of the platform does not exceed 0.15m/s;

    d. continuous pressure controls are provided;

    e. the minimum clear dimensions of the platform are 800mm wide and 1250mm deep;

    f. they are fitted with clear instructions for use;

    g. access with an effective clear width of at least 800mm is provided;

    h. controls are designed to prevent unauthorised use.

    Internal stairs

    Design considerations

    3.50 With the exception of the need for hazard warning surfaces on landings, other design considerations for internal stairs are as those for ‘Stepped access’ (see 1.29 to 1.32). It is not reasonable to require a hazard warning surface at the head of internal stairs since there is no recognised warning surface for use internally which can be guaranteed not to constitute a trip hazard when used alongside flooring surfaces with different frictional resistance characteristics. However, designers should be aware of the potential risk of having a stair directly in line with an access route. For mobility-impaired people, a going of at least 300mm is preferred.

    Provisions

    3.51 Internal stairs will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if they comply with Approved Document K, section 1.

    Note: Diagram 12 has been moved to Approved Document K, Section 1, all other numbering remains the same.

    Internal ramps

    Design considerations

    3.52 With the exception of issues relating specifically to the external environment, the design considerations for internal ramps are as those for ‘Ramped access’ (see 1.19 to 1.25). It is worth reiterating that ramps are not necessarily safe and convenient for ambulant disabled people. For example, some people who can walk but have restricted mobility find it more difficult to negotiate a ramp than a stair. Unless, therefore, a ramp is short, has a shallow gradient and the rise is no more than the minimum that can be provided by two risers, steps should be provided as well as a ramp.

    Provisions

    3.53 Internal ramps will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if they comply with Approved Document K, section 2.

    Handrails to internal steps, stairs and ramps

    Design considerations

    3.54 The design considerations for handrails are as those for ‘Handrails to external stepped and ramped access’ in 1.34 to 1.36.

    Provisions

    3.55 Handrails to internal steps, stairs and ramps will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if they comply with Approved Document K, sections 1–3.