EDIT (02/02/2017): It's been over two years since writing the words below and the concept has become a reality. Blackwood is delighted to share with you the first glimpse of the construction site in full swing in Dundee. Your thoughts, your suggestions and your feedback have all played a vital part in the development of the Blackwood House. Both on this page and through other discussions on bespoken. It won't be long before we are sharing the photos of the finished properties and you will be able to see our combined work into a finished beautiful, accessible and affordable house.


Blackwood has always been a pioneer in accessible housing, having built our first house in Dundee in 1972. Our founder Dr Margaret Blackwood was the leading voice in Scotland in the ongoing campaign to improve the lives of people with disabilities in terms of housing, accessibility, and benefits, to name just a few.

She was convinced that disability needn’t be a barrier to a good life and was an enthusiastic supporter of adaptations to this end. In a BBC radio programme from the late 70s she said - “people who are completely and utterly disabled as I really am have quite a good life if they get the proper gadgets and instruments”.


Today, the Blackwood vision is to be able to offer people beautiful, accessible and affordable homes. To this end, the Blackwood team has drawn up plans for the accessible house of the future. Now is your chance to really have some input. We want your help.

If you scroll down you’ll be able to see pictures of the Blackwood Concept House and we want you to tell us:

  • What makes a house accessible?
  • What do you like about our design?
  • What would you change?


Update from 21/07/15 - Click here for the latest plan of the layout of home...






















































































In the bathroom




In the kitchen




In the bedroom



What do you like? What would you change? We need your help. Add your comments below.


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See the links below to find more adaptations on bespoken...


Vertical walking; forget steps





 Kitchen adaptations



      Seesaw bathtub: split opinions



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2 things that I notice:
1. The kitchen has only the hob and sink on rise and fall units with the storage units in between at standard height. Would it not be preferable for the whole run of worktop to be moveable up and down? I'm an OT and when involved in the design of kitchens, I try to avoid the up and down effect that you get if only the hob and sink can be lowered but not the worktops.

2. Ceiling track hoist - I dislike the notion of using a hoist to move a person from room to room, preferring it to be used for the transfer only, not the "transport" part. But I'm not a hoist user myself. I'd be interested to hear a consensus from those who are.
Also, if you want a hoist to be set up to be able to be used in multiple locations within a room, I'd prefer to see the "H" track type which you can use at any location within the room.

this looks amazing, just a point on the fitted oven, would it have a door that opens and slides under rather than opening flat down? The oven doors that open flat are no use to a wheelchair user as you cannot get near enough to remove food from oven. 

Looks like a lot of thought has gone into this design and I for one would love to live in a house like that 

Oh the humility and embarrassment of using a hoist. I would challenge any able-bodied person to say they enjoyed being moved in a hoist. It is uncomfortable, difficult to put on (depending on the carer) and frightening as you have no control over what is happening. Surely in a world of technology where great efforts are being made to allow a disabled person to be as independent as possible, hoisting people from one room to another should be out! If you look in an abattoir at the huge sides of animals being hoisted around on a huge hook then you will get an idea of what it feels like to be moved around on a hoist. As Helen has already said, 'transfer only' so the less time in a hoist the better This is only my opinion and I'm sure for some people it is possibly the only way they can be transferred. However, I would like to say that some disabled people who are unable to express their feelings regarding being hoisted here and there,  could be experiencing terrible embarrassment at being hoisted into the air like a lump of meat, so I hope whoever designed hoists thought about this too.

With regards to cupboards both in the kitchen and throughout the house, it is of no use to a wheelchair person if the cupboards are stationary at standard height. I am in what is supposed to be a wheelchair accessible home (it is far from it) Cupboards are too high, some even too high for my friends and family to reach so in the Concept home I would expect all storage to be either at wheelchair height or be rise and fall units. The oven is of no use to a wheelchair person (or anyone with mobility problems for that matter) if it opens to either side as you can get burned if it swings back on you. As Anne has already stated, 'even oven doors that open flat are of no use'. I think her idea of a oven door that slides underneath is perfect and I really hope you consider this as I have the burns to prove that opening the door any other way is dangerous. I'm not seeing a hob in the kitchen although I'm sure there is one. I find hobs particularly dangerous. Mine is supposed to be at the correct height for a wheelchair user but I still cannot reach properly and often get burned. Another thing to be remembered is leg space. In my present home I cannot use the breakfast bar on the living room side and only have one area on the kitchen side,which makes food preparation very difficult if not impossible. Also, there is leg room under the hob but I would not sit with my legs under the hot hob for obvious reasons. Very dangerous for people with altered sensation. Looking at your photographs it appears that there are few leg-room spaces so this would not suit a wheelchair person. I'd also like to see sliding doors on cupboards throughout the house. Concertina doors are too difficult to handle and also take up room the same as a normal door does. I'm sure slide away doors could be fashioned for most cupboards and even doorways.

When Concept House was being designed, were there people with various disabilities involved with the design or was it left to the architects? I wish more disabled people's input was saught when ventures of this sort are put together. Things can look so good, even workable on paper but problems are only found after the project is completed by which time it is too late.

On a possitive note I really like the lay-out of the house and the fact that so much effort has been put into the various rooms not to say the impressive technology. I do love the fact that the house has so much natural light flooding in. It may not be to everyones liking but I believe natural lighting can contribute to the wellness feeling of the person living there.

Dear June,

Thank you for your very interesting feedback. This is why we have put the concept house on bespoken, so that we can get constructive criticism and continue to shape it accordingly. People with disabilities were consulted in the designing of the concept house, but I would like to stress that this is not the final design and we are still shaping it.


Hence why it is on bespoken.


When Blackwood does get round to building more houses, these will include adaptations according to what the individual needs and wants. It was interesting to read what you had to say about ovens and I know just the ones you mean, (see here).


Rise and fall cupboards are an option as you can see in the photos. Regarding hoists, well admittedly I'm not an expert personally but certainly some people cannot manage without them. I can definitely see though that it might not be the most dignified way to do things but it seems that for the time being it is the most practical.


We did, and continue to, include people who have disabilities in the design process and this is exactly what you and everyone else who coments is doing right now. Remember until further notice the concept house is just that, a concept. It is your opinions, views and feedback that will shape the real thing when it happens. Please keep the comments coming.





Thank you Paul for your reply. I agree that until some one comes up with another method of transferring immobile people from area to area, a hoist is essential. A lot of people are quite hapy to use hoists. I would say however that I would not like to go from one room to another this way and feel that this is more to suit the carer than the disabled person, as many people do feel frightened and embarrassed in a hoist. Having said that, I honestly feel that it is essential to ease a carer's burden too,as lifting and transferring people is very difficult, exhausing and runs the risk of injury to both carer and disabled person even when a transfer is correctly carried out to the letter. Maybe in years to come we will be able to 'beam' a person from bed to chair and room to room! Anything is possible! I am very happy to hear that you did include people with disabilities during the design process and I did realise it was a concept house and not a real show house although it would be very nice to be able to see the real thing.

I might be slightly (!) late in noticing this but I'd like to clarify that my dislike is for the use of a hoist for room to room travel.  Of course, for some people, a hoist is an essential item for transfer

Hi Helen,

Thanks for your comment. I chased it up with our Strategic Development Director who oversees the Blackwood House project.

Following feedback from customers and staff we have opted for a moveable hoist as opposed to a fixed installation. This is to maximise flexibility and to take into account the fact that not all customers require room to room transfer via hoist.



I like it all. My main worry is cost. It appears to have good accessibility-no steps or doors. My main concerns would be cost of the property after the alterations are made and the cost of heating it with it being all open planned. I would also like to see a wet room option in stead of a bath or alongside it.

I totally agree with you Jamie. I have an ordinary bath with a hoist, a sink, a toilet and a wet room all in pne room and believe me it doesn't work as much needed space is taken by the bath, wash basin and toilet. Not to say it feels unhygienic to shower next to the toilet and it is a nightmare getting everything dried up after the shower has soaked everything. I think wet rooms should be seperate from everything and I definitely think it should be in the concept house. I think a bath is also necessary as a disabled person's health can change from week to week. Pressure sores can occur or muscle and nerve pain can increase and soaking in a bath certainly can easy the pain and help healing.

As for costs, yes, I imagine they will be considerably more than one would like although materials would be the same I would think. The same cabinets as in ordinary housesetc. It would be the cost of running hydraulics (or what ever is used to raise and lower cupboards etc.) that would cause the expense. As for the heating and lighting I would expect the concept house to have solar panels to keep costs down. The concept house could possibly have doors that slide into the wall rather than all open plan, I suppose. Underfloor heating would mean that no space was being taken up with radiators and should keep rooms at a steady temperature. Other ways of keeping costs down is a photovoltaic system which converts sunlight into electricity, solar water heating using solar panels, heat pump which gives you heat from straight out of the ground, wind power turbines (you can get small wind turbines.) I don't know if any of these would be suitable for the concept house but I think they are worth thinking about.

One of our members send us a direct message with this comment on the Concept House. specifically the kitchen area.

'On the middle bunker has anyone mentioned about rounding the corners so as to give more room when going around them and the round edges won't hurt as much as the points of the squared corners. They can be cupboards or open plan shelves to avd more doors to work around.'

A couple sessions were held with both Blackwood staff and tenants to get some feedback about the concept house. here are a couple videos showing some of the main bits and comments. Apologies for the sound which is not great at times.

The main points raised in this first video were:

1) Heating - A few options are being considered regarding heating. Underfloor heating is discussed in this video emphasising that it heats better overall but has a slower response than say a radiator.

2) Under floor heating could be regulated to different temperatures in different rooms in the house.

3) The question of space is discussed. One tenant expressed his overall positive impression with the way in which space had been used.

4) Storage: the option is discussed of the wall in the living room that holds the TV being one big cupboard all along the wall for storage.

Concept House discussion - 1st video


In this second video the people taking part in the discussion look at:

1) The issue with charging mobility scooters outside.

2) For moving about inside the house one option that is being looked at is the possibility of having a tracking hoist run from the bedroom, along the ceiling and into the bathroom. Reference is made to the existing bespoken comment on the subject (see other comments).

3) Windows are designed to be easily opened and closed.

4) There is a general discussions around the challenge of finding a suitable middle ground that will be adaptable for various needs as obviously different tenants will have different kinds of needs with regard to independent living.

Concept House discussion - 2nd video

Homelands have 4 accessible holiday (respite/short breaks) Lodges with under floor heating and a wide range od support equipment. We would love to have rise and fall work tops, but they are very expensive, we currently have a lowered worktop area. Please check out www.homelands-fife.co.uk or come along for a visit.. It would be great if accessible homes and holiday accommodation was more readily available, hopefully Homelands Trust have helped a little.


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