Using a non-main entrance

  • Using a non-main entrance

    Posted by Josh Grisdale on February 10, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    Hey everyone,

    Recently I went to check a popular luxury hotel in Japan for Accessible Japan.

    While it was top class in terms of luxury, one thing really bugged me. They are marketing themselves as a traditional Japanese inn, in the heart of the city. At Japanese inns, and in Japan in general, there is a step inside the building where you take off your shoes and change to slippers. The facility wanted to keep this aspect and have a step at the entrance where guests take off their shoes and step up.

    Now, they did have a solution for wheelchair users, but it was a separate entrance. While it was clean and nice, there were also baggage carts etc stored there and it felt like going in the hidden back door. I mentioned this of course.

    I understand if a building is old and cannot be modified (due to historic preservation laws) a secondary entrance may be required. But this building was new.

    I am curious what others feel. Do you mind using a back/side door if the reason for being unable to use the front door is for design reasons?

    (Note, the sliding door at the front of the picture is not the accessible entrance.)

    Josh Grisdale replied 2 years, 4 months ago 3 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • schroth-sensei

    February 11, 2022 at 11:57 am

    I feel like new buildings allow for new opportunities to apply accessibility options, but I do have a building design background so I could be bias.

    I don’t think you should necessarily be required to use a back/hidden entry (though yes, it is better than no accessibility at all), because if I can’t experience the designed ambiance as intended, well… then it doesn’t really feel like it is designed for me as a guest at that establishment. However, part of me also doesn’t want to bug the staff to retrieve a portable ramp for this entry step each time I come or go, it is a conundrum. So, I really think alternatives can be considered (especially during building design phases), or even help blend old and new together in innovative ways.

    I feel I can’t just leave it at that, so I did up a quick sketch. Assuming they want to keep the traditional, I would then add a side ramp. But instead of just putting a ramp beside the step up, let’s create a usable focal design space (a sort of countertop high space that could be used for anything from traditional art exhibits, seasonal displays, or even showing goods for sale). The traditional hall side of the space could be walled-off to keep original aesthetics, or left open. This would hide an obvious ramp and add opportunity to explore displayed items from multiple angles. Also, as shown here, it could tuck away entrances to other spaces such as a convenience store or souvenir shop, which may not fit traditional styles. And, in order to remind people to remove their shoes (if entering from the ramp) a no-shoes-sign could be placed that is only visible from the ramp side. Thus keeping a traditional style mostly in tact, while adding accessibility that feels like it has everyone in mind. I would like to see more of an approach to accessibility like this, even knowing that space is a premium in much of Japan.

    • Josh Grisdale

      February 11, 2022 at 1:02 pm

      I love that sketch!

      Yes, I wouldn’t want to ask for a ramp each time either – a big hit to independence.

      Yeah, it felt like such a wasted opportunity to show creativity in design and act as an example of blending tradition and universal design.

  • Carlos

    February 11, 2022 at 2:06 pm

    I’m not Japanese, but I don’t see how important a step is to be included. People can take off their shoes without a step. Maybe have a very slight ramp in place of the step so one can feel like they’re going up into the building without having us enter through a different entrance from the others.

    In this day and age, we need to get rid of the ‘separate but equal’ mentality.

    • Josh Grisdale

      February 11, 2022 at 2:21 pm

      Yes, they could very easily have made a portion of the step a ramp – and just made sure they did it stylishly. Especially when they want to show off their hospitality…

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