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Barrier-free construction - For today. For tomorrow. For buildings with a bright future.

"Regardless of whether you're eight or eighty, you want the world to work for everyone." This, in a nutshell, is a widely accepted world view. The same conditions for everyone, no matter their age or disability, rather than special solutions for the select few. The aspects regulated by standards today address the challenges of future societal and demographic change. Based on being easy to reach, recognise, adapt and operate, ease of access means that every person can use everything in their living space, which has been designed to be barrier-free, independently and largely without external help. Innovative but universal approaches are necessary in order to design products, rooms and applications in such a way that they are attractive to all and easy to use for virtually a lifetime. 

Barrier-free construction

In Germany, DIN 18040 is the basic standard for barrier-free construction and design. The aim of this standard is to ensure ease of access in buildings so that they can be used by people with disabilities in the usual way without particular difficulty and largely without external help (in accordance with Section 4 of the German Disability Equality Act – Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz). It applies to barrier-free planning, design and configuration.

The following needs are taken into account:

  • People with a visual or hearing impairment
  • People with motor impairments who use mobility aids or wheelchairs
  • People who are very tall or very short
  • People with cognitive impairments
  • The elderly
  • Children
  • Pushchairs and luggage

DIN 18040-1 stipulates the technical requirements for barrier-free public buildings and their outdoor facilities. 

DIN 18040-2 applies to barrier-free planning, execution and equipment of flats, buildings with flats and their outdoor areas which are intended for access and home-related use. In other words, living spaces in which people should feel comfortable. The requirements regulated in the standard for residential buildings generally also take into account unrestricted use with a wheelchair. Within flats, a distinction is made between

  1. Barrier-free flats and
  2. flats with barrier-free and unrestricted wheelchair use.

"As moving, functional construction units, windows and doors are of particular importance, as they are used virtually every day and any errors in the planning and design then become a daily nuisance."

ift Rosenheim, 2014

An overview of the key requirements:

  • Clear opening dimension: at least 90 cm wide and 205 cm high
  • Thresholds are generally not permitted (with the exception of 2 cm thresholds when technically necessary)
  • Handle and operating height: 85 cm (for wheelchair users) to 105 cm


  • At least one window per room must be easy to open
  • Maximum operating force of 30 N or 5 Nm (Class 2 in accordance with DIN EN 13115)


  • Operating force: Max. 25 N (Class 3 in accordance with DIN EN 12217), however with the general recommendation to automate systems
  • Fitting of orientation aids

Schüco Window systems

The Schüco AWS barrier-free window construction was developed to meet every need in terms of comfort and design. In particular, the barrier-free, level threshold ensures an even, trip-free transition between inside and outside. This system enhancement meets the ift guideline "Determining and classifying the rollover capacity of thresholds" (BA-01/1) in full, achieving the highest possible classification (class 6). The threshold gasket developed for the system with delayed hydraulic lowering ensures an effortless closing process. Depending on the design, the window unit can be opened both inwards and outwards. If the installation of a level threshold is technically not feasible, Schüco offers a 20 mm threshold, which complies with standards.

In addition to the threshold solution developed for doors and windows, fittings from the SimplySmart modular system ensure windows are easy to operate and achieve class 2 in terms of operating forces. This fully complies with the technical requirements of DIN 18040 and means that manual operation of the windows is also compliant with the standard. However, AWS window systems can also be opened by means of electronic operation. One example of this is the TipTronic SimplySmart  mechatronic fitting.

The combination of barrier-free level threshold and the additional comfort aids allow easy operation of the units. The installed windows can be up to 1300 mm wide and 2500 mm high, meaning that every building can be turned into a home for people with motor impairments too.

The following window systems can be designed as barrier-free:

Schüco Door systems

To enable people with motor impairments to access buildings independently, entrance doors in particular need to be designed to be barrier-free.

The Schüco AD UP door system meets the requirements of DIN 18040. The cross-product construction principle of the barrier-free level threshold can facilitate unrestricted access to buildings without a threshold. Ift guideline "Determining and classifying the rollover capacity of thresholds" (BA-01/1) is met in full, achieving the highest possible classification (class 6). Furthermore, all of the usual requirements for a door, such as the watertightness and air permeability, are met to the highest standard. An additional, automatic side-hung door drive reduces the operating forces to a level that enables easy operation of the door.

In addition, the access to the building can be designed to be more convenient by adding an access control module like Schüco BlueCon to the system. With Schüco BlueCon, the door lock can be easily unlocked at the touch of a button by means of an app. The auto-unlock function in combination with a side-hung door drive also allows the door to be operated as if by itself as soon as the smartphone establishes a Bluetooth connection with the lock.

With the Schüco AD UP door system, nothing stands in the way of easy access to buildings for people with motor impairments.

The following door systems can be designed as barrier-free:

Schüco Sliding systems

In addition to windows and doors, sliding systems also need to meet specific requirements in order to be easy to use for people with motor impairments and those in wheelchairs. The focus here is on the transition between inside and outside: the threshold. In order to achieve ease of access, a threshold is only permitted if it is technically essential. If this is the case, a height of up to 2 cm is allowed.

The second main focus of ease of access is the required operating force. An alternative method of operation is crucial, especially as vent weights can be very heavy. This is the only way to ensure that each and every person can easily open and close the sliding system.

The Schüco ASE 60 TT and ASE 80.HI TT sliding systems meet these requirements. The barrier-free, level threshold in particular provides an even transition between inside and outside.

The mechatronic operation of Schüco TipTronic means that heavy vent weights can be easily moved too.

The following sliding systems can be designed as barrier-free:

Another term that is used in this connection is the concept of universal design. This is also based on a social design approach centred on people but goes one step further, so that not only products and spaces but also applications are designed to be simple and intuitive for all to use, regardless of age or ability, without needing to be adapted. The focus is on both the design concept and design process that leads to products that can be used by anyone. Easy-to-use doors and trip-free thresholds, as well as ergonomic window handles, must be simple to operate for all generations. A number of factors come into play in the design process. They not only focus on the opening widths or trip-free thresholds, they also consider the balancing act between technology, the development of complex mechatronic, intelligent components, and the easy handling of products.

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