“If challenged, architects will find ways to liberate space so residents and carers can move freely.”
As an architect, ergonomic expert, teacher and influencer, Mai Almén has spent her whole career empowering movement by persuading construction companies, architects and planners to create better conditions for people with physical limitations.
“You have to be stubborn and know the legislation to make those involved follow accessibility rules. Many of them have very limited knowledge about difficulties residents and carers face,” says Mai, who runs her own architect company focusing on regular homes, elderly care and hospitals.
She has a good story about how a little push can make a difference. At one of her training programs for architects in healthcare planning, Mai asked the 20 participants to go home and try to apply a higher accessibility level to real projects they were working on.
“When they came back, everyone had managed to integrate measurements that make life easier for residents. It just took some extra knowledge and willingness to change.”
The Arjo Guide for Architects and Planners is the backbone of our ambition to support the entire building process with knowledge – and Mai has been a key member of the global team of experts that helped create the guide.
“The Arjo guide gives easy access to concrete facts. I also believe that engaging clinical staff and residents create an understanding of why distances in the rules are important.”
Mai’s voice resonates of more than 50 years of experience. She was empowered to move into the accessibility area even before she got her degree in architecture back in 1970.
“Two years into the program, my professor thought that I talked so much about accessibility that I should focus my career on it. I followed his advice. I never make a drawing with a staircase without adding a ramp or an elevator with the right measurements.”