Handicap-organisationernes Hus: Office Building with Embracing Arms
In Høje-Taastrup, there’s a building you can freely move around in, even if you have difficulty seeing. Inside, the hearing-impaired can lip-read in natural daylight. And if you’re in a wheelchair, you can easily get around. Handicaporganisationernes Hus (House of Disabled People’s Organisations) is designed to be inclusive for everyone.
If you look at the white building from above, it’s shaped like a starfish with four rounded arms. To the east, you’ll find the flat parking lot and main entrance. To the west lies an inviting sensory garden with fruit trees and raised beds.
Handicaporganisationernes Hus is built as an equitably accessible building. This means that everyone can move and work on equal terms. As the name suggests, it’s the Disabled People’s Organisations Denmark (DPOD) and some of its member organizations that occupy the building.
Architecture with Ambitions
The architects’ ambition was to build the world’s most accessible office building. It’s intended to serve as a Danish and international beacon for inclusive architecture. This goal was actively pursued and is continually being developed to remain one of the world’s most accessible buildings.
Handicaporganisationernes Hus is built according to the design strategy of universal design, rooted in the idea of including and ensuring equal access for all. Human abilities and requirements were considered right from the start of the design process. Today, the building is filled with innovative solutions that meet as many needs as possible, both inside and outside.
Built for People
Outside the building, there are guide paths for people with visual impairments. The parking lot is level, and the asphalt is smooth. Inside, the four wings of the building are color-coded in red, blue, green, and purple to help you orient yourself. The glass ceiling ensures natural light indoors so that as many people as possible can see the colors and orient themselves.
There are Braille markings on the railings and guidelines on the floor, so people with visual impairments know which floor they are on. The railing is perforated with holes, so people in wheelchairs can see though – and see where they are. The railing also has another function; behind the perforated surface lies a sound-absorbing fabric that helps people with reduced vision to orient themselves by sound. The idea is that good accessibility is necessary for some but beneficial for all.
Near the Handicaporganisationernes Hus
Høje-Taastrup, where the Handicaporganisationernes Hus is located, is well connected by both local and regional trains. The first thing you encounter is Høje-Taastrup Station with its three distinctive arches that welcome train travelers — serving as a gateway to Greater Copenhagen. From there, it’s a 10-minute walk to the Handicaporganisationernes Hus. Nearby is also “Borgernes Hus,” which is the name of the modern Høje-Taastrup Town Hall, designed by PLH Architects — and inaugurated in 2023.