Prof. H Martin Edge






Dewsbury, G and Edge, H.M. (2001)

Designing the Home to Meet the Needs of Tomorrow … Today: Smart Technology, Health and Well-Being .

Open House International Vol 26 No 2 2001 Autumn 2001 (ISSN 0168-2601)


This paper considers the role of smart home technology in relation to current housing design principles.  Initially the changing role and function of the house are explored and discussed.  The concepts of barrier free ‘lifetime homes’ and universal design[1] are considered and UK community care and Building Regulations are investigated in relation to the design process.  It is contended that the current role of assistive technology in relation to people with disabilities and older people can be developed through the use of smart home technology.

The paper examines smart homes and suggests that, through the adoption of smart home technology, occupants can gain independence and become more empowered.  It is proposed that the concept of the home design should extend beyond the ‘bricks and mortar’ physical approach to take account of the rise in information technology.  The paper highlights the international EU funded research[2] project CUSTODIAN[3] which has developed a piece of software that enables specified smart homes and smart home solutions to be created by non-technically minded individuals. 

This paper concludes that ‘lifetime homes’, barrier free and universal design should be reconsidered in the light of the development of smart home technology so that smart homes are incorporated within the ‘virtual’ design concept.  The home, it is contended, should be considered as more than just a physical entity.  Moreover, it is proposed that smart technology should be thought of as an essential part of the design process and not an after-thought.  The paper argues that through the development of the smart home specifying tool, smart homes can be integrated into the initial design phase of future homes for older people and those with disabilities.




[1] Also known as ‘Design for Life’

[2] This project is funded under the European Commission DGIX ‘TIDE’ Programme dedicated to developing the role of ‘Smart Home Systems’ in the homes of older people and people with disabilities.

[3] Conceptualisation for User involvement in Specification and Tools Offering the Delivery of system Integration Around home Networks