07 January 2010

Casa di cuore – Italian for inclusive home?

The simple timber house we bought bears a discreet brass plate entitled Casa di cuore - home of heart. 

We need a home with heart. 

And one that meets our ordinary human need for sharing and privacy, indoor functionality and outdoor lifestyle.  Ease of movement and independence.  A haven from the world and a home office.  Whether we are old, young, fat, thin, disabled or temporarily able bodied.  

A truly inclusive home for our family – hubby, me, uni student daughter, Iced Coffee Queen and sports-mad high school son, Sportivo.  Plus the mad kelpie dog @#%*. 

We are doing what we wish Australian policy-makers would do: we are being sensible and actively planning for the future.  We are researching, designing, personally funding and creating a functional, flexible home which anyone – regardless of ability or age – can be welcomed into and move around freely. And we're building another, smaller multi-function house adjacent to where our renovated house will be. Both houses could meet the needs of: 
  • Grandma and Grandpa (because home is important to them too)
  • House guests from interstate and overseas
  • Exchange students
  • Visiting friends of all levels of physical mobility, from 1 year-old Florence to 82 year old Betty
  • Families learning physical rehabilitation therapy
  • Home office
  • Us when we’re old and grump(ier)
  • The kids when they have partners and should have moved out but can’t afford to
  • Support workers
  • Tenants when we need rental income, because we have spent all our earned income on disability equipment and services.  Because unlike other countries where people with disabilities have a legislated right to the aids, equipment and technology they require for daily living, no such right exists in Australia. 
We’re thinking flexibility.  Accessibility.  Ageing in place.  Visitability.  Universal design principles.  Life-time housing.  Sustainability.  Responsibility.

We’re hoping the planning authority is thinking that way too.  We’re hoping we don’t have to fight for every extra square centimetre of indoor circulation space or outdoor hard surface that makes wheeled movement easy or even enjoyable.

Because we are really, truly sick of fighting for everything, just because one of us has a physical disability.

We’re hoping the planning authority places as much importance on independence, inclusion and accessibility as it does on grey water, insulation and urban footprint.  And maybe, just maybe, thinks what we are doing could be a useful housing model for other local residents, now and in the future.

Because we think what we’re doing is true sustainability.  We are creating a house that we can all live in as long as we want to, regardless of how our abilities change.  Not much point in having a greywater toilet system if you can't get over the threshold of your house ...

1 comment:

  1. That's great Fiona, love the blog already, a resource! We're calling our home Bonnie Doon, something to do with the serenity of living opposite an aluminium smelter! Yours has a little more sophistication to it!