In 2010 GEBALIS created the LIFE Program to address the lack of housing oriented to the needs of people with reduced mobility. It created a new class of dwellings called Dwellings for Universal Use.
LIFE incorporates principles of innovation in the requalification of housing. The concept underlying the Program’s design is the universal use of the house, that is: the house adapts to any concrete reality and to the special needs of its residents. This is achieved with the use of new technologies, namely home automation, with equipment operability via wireless and the so-called “internet of things”.
LIFE involves a comprehensive and multidisciplinary team, which assesses the physical and social constraints of the residents, devising solutions in terms of architecture and engineering to adapt each house to the needs of its users.
LIFE houses center its action on the absence of architectural barriers, on the elimination of “dead” spaces, sustainability, low energy consumption and high standards of comfort. They present an attractive design, using visual tricks and adequate lighting. They invest strongly in the installation of dynamic kitchens – with motorized furniture that adjusts in height; in rooms with features operated remotely by users – electric blinds, lighting regulation, sliding doors – through motion sensors with photoelectric cells and using the mobile phone for regulation; large and generously sized sanitary facilities, with non-slip floors, easy-to-use guide bars, using robust and attractive materials. Common to the whole house is the internal communication system, installed in all rooms of the house, allowing a quick call in case of need.
To the initial concept of housing for universal use, we recently added the concept of timeless use, through the introduction of the “Internet of things”.
The latest interventions of the LIFE Program incorporate technology in the homes that allows its users, by downloading an APP on their mobile phones, to have the complete remote control of the house, whether inside or outside. They are 100% wireless homes.
In today’s world and because we live longer, grow older, have better health assistance and medicine keeps developing new ways for preserving life in good quality levels, we watch a new paradigm and problem: there is also a growing rate of population with conditioned mobility.
In Portugal, there are studies that point out that 10% of the population as some kind of special need, and this rate tends to grow over the years.
GEBALIS, as the first responsible enterprise for all the social residential buildings of Lisbon, deals with this problem every day, within the thousands of homes that need to be taken care of and requalified.
Starting by questioning: What could be done to improve the residential park managed by GEBALIS? How to adapt old construction houses to new functional demands? What to change for a better living in the already existing houses? How to profit from the existing places and reduce architectural obstacles? GEBALIS came up with a new project aiming to start a new venture of home rehabilitation, for universal use, following the experiences and recommendations of the already existing “Life Project” that pursues good practices of excellency in the area of building construction, accessibilities, and residential areas.
GEBALIS Life Program also aims to test new solutions, cost-effective and functionally efficient and, at the same time, to answer to a gap in building industry of houses for universal use (special needs, impaired, limited mobility, blind, etc.).
In the requalification of these houses, the concern with energy efficiency is a constant, from 100% LED lighting, low consumption air conditioning systems, emergency lighting, in addition to the total absence of architectural barriers not only in access to housing but also in the guarantee of mobility within it.
The houses are equipped with the latest technological solutions, some of which are innovative, such as dynamic kitchens, sanitary installations exempt from any mobility barrier, shower area on the slab, use of various forms of automations, home automation, thermal motion sensors, electric shutters, acoustic and thermal coatings.
Since its inception in 2010, Project Life has already promoted the rehabilitation of ten homes. In 2020, six more homes are to be upgraded.
LIFE tests new economically and functionally efficient solutions and at the same time responds to a gap in the housing construction industry for universal use – special needs, disabilities, limited mobility, blindness, etc. – applying excellent practices in the area of civil construction, with low maintenance costs and ensuring a long service life of materials and equipment.
With the use of the “Internet of the things”, in addition to extending the technical life of the housing thanks to the solutions equipment and materials employed, we also achieve constant technological updating over time and at no cost.
These are houses where there is no need for maintenance costs, extending the useful life of the house and which can be used willingly by anyone, with or without limitations.
LIFE’s great ambition is fulfilled each time a new home is ready, by changing the lives of its residents, promoting their autonomy and increasing their comfort.
(Inter)national recognitions and awards:
– The Label of Diversity and Inclusion 2019 – awarded by the Portuguese Association for Diversity and Inclusion;
– The label of Recognition of Social Responsibility Practices in the Human Rights Category 2017 – awarded by the Portuguese Association of Business Ethics;
– The Access Label 2011 – awarded by Liga Institution and the Portuguese Design Center.