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Luxury realty projects become disabled-friendly, industry wants more

| MEHUL R. THAKKAR
Published : Aug 29, 2016, 1:53 am IST
Updated : Aug 29, 2016, 1:53 am IST

A lift that has buttons in Braille for the benefit of the visually impaired

BRAILLE-LIFT-BUTTONS-2.jpg
 BRAILLE-LIFT-BUTTONS-2.jpg

A lift that has buttons in Braille for the benefit of the visually impaired

While developers of ultra luxurious and luxurious projects have started incorporating architectural designs that are differently-abled friendly and senior citizen friendly, experts and fellow developers have said that real estate professionals who have the skills to deliver should expand this practice across projects of all sizes.

Currently, ultra luxurious and luxurious projects have started incorporating architectural designs that are differently-abled and senior citizen friently. However, this is yet to become a common practice among mid-sized projects by a majority of developers.

The town and country-planning organisation under the Union ministry of urban development recently published guidelines on Model Building Bye-Laws, 2016, which has a dedicated chapter on provisions for the differently-abled and senior citizens.

“There is growing awareness on the part of developers and some of these required amenities friendly with disabled and senior citizens are included in newer developments. However, it is still a relatively recent segment for developers. Some developers are using these amenities to attract a new customer segment made up with senior citizens and people with disabilities and their families,” said, Shubika Bilkha, business head, Real Estate Management Institute (REMI).

Some builders such as Ajmera Realty, Radius Developers, Oberoi Group and Adani Realty have started incorporating such architectural designs in their luxurious projects for Mumbai as well as nationwide. However, for mid-sized projects it becomes difficult to inculcate such designs, developers and architects said.

“For smaller projects there may not be dedicated areas for them but the design is friendly and sensitive towards differently-abled and senior citizens,” said, Ajay Agarwal, owner, Geopreneur design studio.

Another city-based designer, Nitin Gadekar, said, “The trend of having architectural designs keeping in mind the differently-abled and senior citizens is slowly picking up. Nowadays buyers are more aware, they travel around the globe, see new layouts and designs and with this, the expectations do increase. I think even developers for mid-sized projects are concerned about it but because of small and congested plots there are times when ultimately the design of the project may be compromised considering the space crunch in a city like Mumbai.”

A luxury complex in Wadala by Ajmera Realty comes equipped with ramps that are wheelchair friendly along with lifts that can be used during medical emergencies and can accommodate stretchers. Dhaval Ajmera from Ajmer Realty, said, “Our projects have specific features focusing on requirements for the aged. We have a special senior citizens club at Ajmera Infinity project that caters to the needs of the elderly.”

At Radius Developers residential projects at Chembur and Bandra, the lifts are Braille-enabled. Its commercial projects also have dedicated washrooms for the disabled. “We ensure our all buildings are wheelchair friendly, through ramps to access lobbies and across the site. Our parking spaces and allotments philosophy for disabled people are to ensure that they are given a priority,” said Ashish Shah, chief operating officer, Radius Developers.

“In India, there are still a number of small and mid-sized towns that do not have building bye-laws. Indian construction needs much change in approach when it comes to differently-abled and senior citizen friendly construction,” said Piyush Gandhi, JLL India, a real estate consultancy firm.

Model buildings bye-law '16 Having provisions that are differently-abled and senior citizen friendly in buildings and facilities used by the public, like educational, institutional, assembly, commercial, business, mercantile buildings and group housing constructed on plots having an area of more than 2,000 square meters. However, it does not apply to private residential buildings.

Growing trend Developers of luxurious projects like Ajmera’s Treon in Wadala, Radius Developers’ project in Bandra and Mahindra Lifespace in Andheri have incorporated features like dedicated ramps, parking, entry/exits, lifts and toilets that are designed especially for senior citizens and the differently-abled.