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Apartment Buildings Liveability Criteria



> Apartment buildings should be designed in such a way that site overlook is encouraged and possible, the following are considerations to be taken into account:


- no blank end walls


- projections such as bay, bow or corner windows allow a wide field of vision


- All public spaces should be accessible


- The main entrance should welcome all people including the aged, children, and persons with mobility problems (no one should be made to feel like a second class citizen, the main entry/ lobby area may be the best or only place for a shut-in to socialize with people in his or her neighborhood).


- Main entrances should be designed as secure areas where residents

can wait for visitors or pick-up. Secure lobbies should have windows

to exterior arrival points






The entry vestibule at the Beauparlant Cooperative in Welland, Ontario, is large enough to hang out in. In the secure zone of the adjacent Lobby, large windows overlook the entrance driveway.

- Give consideration to alternative keying systems (an electronic pass or keypad system may be easier to use for people with disabilities than a mechanical key; an electronic system has built-in flexibility). As a general rule, locks should be easy to use and require only one hand to operate.


- The colour and tonality of the main public doors should contrast with their surroundings


- It is preferable that there be a bench or shelf adjacent to locked doors so that hands are freed to use keys


- Provide windows at elevator lobby areas to make space as bright and pleasant as possible, and to assist in orientation. Encourage by design areas where people might linger


- Provide easy-to-grab handrails in corridors, at areas where people congregate, at mailboxes, notice boards, by elevators, and at entry areas


- Provide windows into exit stairs as allowed by building code


- Provide kickplates at public doors to protect from wheelchair footrests


- In public washrooms with urinals, provide grab-bars at one location


- Provide a loop-type handrail 100mm extension at tops and bottoms of stairs


- Provide a raised Arabic number sign and braille equivalent indicating floor level 1500mm above floor inside stairwell at wall adjacent to latch side of door


- In higher (12+ storeys) buildings, design balconies to be sheltered from wind


- Ensure there is enough room to move furniture and stretchers


- If exercise areas are provided, consider how they might be used by people with varying disability





- At automatic doors, provide a sensor to keep open doors if a person stumbles or falls


- In corridors, eliminate places that could conceal an attacker


- Avoid dead end corridors


- Walls should have a matte finish, colour contrasted from floor; use different colours & tonality, different texture and acoustical finishes at elevators and stairs


- Introduce daylight into stairwells, lobbies and corridors to brighten spaces, to encourage lingering and casual use by residents and to provide visibility to the exterior. This will also allow overlook onto site areas, and provide visibility into the building from the  exterior (particularly at night time). This can also lead to energy savings through heat and light gain.


- Laundry rooms should be located in public areas, not secluded at the end of a corridor or in other little-used building areas. ln large buildings (>20 units/ floor) consider providing a small laundry at each floor level if laundry equipment is not included within units.


- Provide areas of refuge on above grade floors (minimally sized to accommodate wheelchairs)

- Stairs and ramps should have a slip-resistant, no-glare finish and handrails on both sides


- There should be glare and shadow-free lighting, and it is preferable to mark the beginning and end of ramps with a highly-coloured (or reflective) detectable warning surface (pairing non-visual cues with visual cues). Apply a highly-coloured strip at the front edge of stair nosings


- Locate doors into a stairwell opposite the up flight; colour contrast treads and risers if possible. A maximum rise of 180mm is preferable (OBC allows up to 200mm).


- Discuss safety plan for disabled occupants with local fire department. Prepare a fire safety plan prior to occupancy of the building indicating location of housing units that will be normally occupied by people with mobility barriers, the aged, the blind & the deaf. In some cases, the fire department may want to retain a key for emergency entry into these suites or place keys in a Chubb box at the main building entry. Review evacuation procedures for disabled occupants with the people affected, perhaps assigning monitors to assist these residents.


- If there are any spaces that might be used by the public, perhaps for a community meeting or a party, ensure that the residential areas of the building can be secured.

A side exit at the Ujamaa Cooperative in Scarborough allows the external community to use the common spaces without entering the secure zone of the building.

> Special housing units can be created for people with environmental sensitivities; refer to the Sustainability pages on this website





- Use laminated or wired glass in public spaces below guard height (1070mm, 42") adjacent to drops (tempered glass, even if it is strong enough to meet the lateral load requirements under the Building Code, will fall out if broken). Use tempered glass in at other locations in public spaces below guard height (except as required for fire-rated enclosures)


- Provide overlook for play areas in particular, as well as as much as possible of site


- Provide indoor play spaces


- At outdoor play area, provide play infrastructure for handicapped children


- Ensure that play equipment (especially chutes) cannot snare scarves or other clothing


- Provide soft rubberized surface surface at playground


- Do not use treated lumber at play areas


- Provide separate play areas so that small children are not endangered by the boisterous play of older children


- Stair and balcony guards should be designed so that small children can see without having to climb up to look over a solid enclosure





- Design spaces and structure to eliminate places that could conceal an attacker


- Provide vision panels at stairwell and elevator entrances


- Install motion detectors for some of the lighting in the parking area


- Paint spaces and provide signage to minimum of the City of Toronto's parking garage bylaw


- Avoid dead end or obscured corners


- Bring daylight and views into parking areas if at all possible


- Control access to garage, elevator and stairwells. Exit stairs must be separated from

building exit stairs to prevent uncontrolled entry into the building.


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