Improving Pool Design: Interviewing Physically Impaired Architects

  • C. M. PereiraEmail author
  • T. V. Heitor
  • A. Heylighen
Conference paper


People with a temporary or permanent physical impairment are often excluded from bathing activities due to the difficulties of getting in and out of the water. This paper explores pool design, specifically the design of the access to the tank, which is the key to pools’ inclusivity. In trying to break down existing barriers between users, accessibility experts and designers, we interviewed physically impaired architects about their perception of four types of pool access often used by wheelchair users: ramps, transfer walls, transfer systems and lifts. The interviews revealed limitations in all four types of pool access. To compensate for the limitations identified, combining different types of access in one single pool may be of interest. Moreover, the interviews allowed the identification of another type of pool access, designed by one of the interviewees: an upper pool border connected to an underwater bed and seat allows for an easier exit than transfer walls and transfer systems. Another interviewee advanced the idea of a cane holder for physically and visually impaired people, which may contribute to freeing poolside floors from obstacles and reducing the risk of falls. These insights may contribute to making pools more inclusive, by accommodating specific temporary or permanent mobility needs of all of us.



This research was supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, reference SFRH/BPD/94371/2013, with joint funding from Portugal and the European Union. We are grateful to Isabella Steffan, Ivor Ambrose, Ljerka Gordić, Sonia Carpinelli and Valerie Fletcher, for their contribution to the interviewees sample, and Daniel C. Gaspar, David M. Correia and Pedro O. Teixeira, for the visual assistance to the first author, a blind person.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Architecture, Research[X]DesignKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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