Important legal notice
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Disability - Ensuring that disabilities are no handicap
“To promote best practice in the design of buildings that are easily accessible to elderly, disabled and handicapped people.”

The problem

Many countries around the world are developing principles for access to buildings by people with limited mobility, such as elderly, disabled or handicapped people. These provisions – known here as ‘universal building design’ – range from legally enforced rights through statutory building regulations to voluntary codes of practice. Earlier EU-funded projects have also studied this problem but, as yet, there is no consensus on which technical solutions are appropriate or how they can be incorporated into the design of buildings in a cost-effective manner.

POLIS  Opening up Europe’s buildings to people of limited mobility


POLIS will assist architects, engineers and other construction and planning professionals by:

  • Reviewing existing knowledge on technical solutions to universal building design and the social barriers to their implementation
  • Examining the potential for using information technology, as well as structural, solutions
  • Creating a decision-support system to help apply universal design principles
  • Considering the development of a standard EU-wide certification scheme
  • Raising awareness of the issues, particularly in the eastern and southern Member States where universal design practices are less advanced

Contribution to policy development:

  • POLIS will help spread universal design best practice for making buildings more user-friendly for people of limited mobility at regional, national and EU policy-making levels
  • The project will contribute towards creating a Union-wide standard design – and certification scheme – for making buildings more accessible

Project deliverables

  • Specifications for universal building design (UBD) – August 2004
  • Technical design, implementation and documentation of a decision support system for UBD – start May 2005, end May 2006
  • Technical implementation of the decision support system – May 2006
  • Project presentation, quality assurance, review and assessment – May 2006


  • Project website with mailing list and discussion forum – April 2004
  • Workshop in Poland – August 2005
  • Multimedia CD or DVD providing access to the decision-support system and best practice case studies – December 2005
  • International conference in Belgium – January 2006
  • Workshop in Greece – June 2006
  • Workshop in Spain – November 2006

Technical information

Project acronym: POLIS
Project’s official full title: Decision support tools and policy initiatives in support of a universal design of buildings
Research priority: Quality of life issues relating to handicapped/disabled people (including equal access facilities)
Specific webpage:
Proposal/contract no: 500862
Start date: Not available
Kick off meeting: Not available
Completion date: 31/12/2006
European Commission scientific officer: Gianfranca Russo (

Name: Business and Project Management SA
Abbreviated name: BPM
Address: 25 Alexandroupoleos Street, 11525 Athens
Country: Greece
Tel: +30 210 7472850
Fax: +30 210 7472860


Name: Business and Project Management SA
Abbreviated name: BPM
Country: Greece

Name: ASM Market Research and Analysis Centre
Abbreviated name: ASM
Country: Poland 

Name: Belgian Building Research Institute
Abbreviated name: BBRI
Country: Belgium           

Name: Building Research Establishment
Abbreviated name: BRE
Country: United Kingdom

Name: Cooperative Integrate Onlus
Abbreviated name: COIN
Country: Italy

Name: Interdisciplinary Centre for Technological Analysis and Forecasting
Abbreviated name: ICTAF
Country: Israel

Name: Co-operative Institute for Innovation
Abbreviated name: ICIE
Country: Italy

Name: Fundación LABEIN
Abbreviated name: LABEIN
Country: Spain

Name: Construction Technologies Institute
Abbreviated name: ITC
Country: Italy

Name: Info-Handicap – Conseil National des Personnes Handicapées
Abbreviated name: INFOH
Country: Luxembourg