Designed by architects, driven by government, lived in by the rest of us

Unintentional home-based injuries are a major public health concern in the United Kingdom and elsewhere world wide. The careful design of dwellings can help to minimise the risk of injury or ill-health and this has been recognised in the growth of building control within developed countries. Despite this, injury in the home remains common. This research aimed to establish the extent to which those responsible for dwelling design believe their plans meets long term user needs and requirements in relation to usability and maintenance. The study also aimed to ascertain the considerations given during the creative process to reducing the number of unintentional home injuries through alternative design. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with architects and designers involved in the house design process within the United Kingdom. Participants described a number of factors that influenced their dwelling designs including government initiatives such as density guidelines and local planning issues. A number of competing factors were also illustrated. The architects interviewed during this study reported that they were not given information concerning the pattern and trends of home accidents, and in terms of preventing unintentional injury arising through the interaction between behaviour and design they felt they were limited in what they could do. A heavy reliance on building control to ensure occupier safety was reported during interview.