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After the confinement of the population in their homes, some regions are making changes in the regulations governing the conditions of living spaces. This is the case of the Basque Country, a region in the north of Spain that is usually a pioneer in these type of adaptations, aimed at increasing the quality of the domestic environment.

The inclusion of balconies and terraces in new constructions is one of the issues presented in the new housing regulations in the Basque Country. In this article, we are going deeper into the details that are already known about this decree, which is expected to be approved at the end of this year.

There is regulation for the construction of housing in the Basque Country, but there are no regional norm that regulate all those issues with so much attention to the minimum conditions for the habitability of homes.

The habitability of a house is linked to minimum requirements in terms of surface area, height, equipment, accessibility and maintenance. The capacity of the house to assume changes during the different stages of life is also a very important factor.

The new housing regulations in the Basque Country

This new project proposed by the government of the Basque Country introduces different issues that are to be added to those already mandatory. 

Some new measures are the promotion of new housing for people with reduced mobility, or encouraging the construction of buildings where free access to all spaces can be guaranteed.

Improved accessibility

One of the most outstanding issues of this new housing regulation in the Basque Country is the requirement of minimum dimensions for all the rooms of the house; from the dining room or the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom and at least one other room. In this way, access to people with reduced mobility is guaranteed, but also the participation of more than one person in the kitchen, for example, by making it bigger.

The project is especially focused on the versatility of the houses, trying to achieve a friendly space for any person throughout his/her life, taking into account the changes that occur throughout people's lives.


Larger bedrooms

Another important point in the new housing regulations in the Basque Country is to break with the conventional configuration of housing, where there is one larger bedroom, along with other much smaller bedrooms.

The new regulations dictate that those rooms must have a minimum of 10 square meters (11.5 meters in they  include a built-in wardrobe). This would be a general rule for homes with two rooms, and in the case of a third room, it could be 8.5 meters in area, if that is compensated with 3 extra meters in the living room.

The idea is that bedrooms are places for more than just sleeping, where there is enough space to study, to work or to do other activities comfortably.


Open spaces: terraces and balconies

Confinement has shown that outdoor spaces in homes are necessary and the new housing regulations in the Basque Country take this into account. Outdoor spaces will no longer be measured as part of the main surface area, which is what has happened until now. In this way, since they will not be penalized anymore, the construction of houses with terraces and balconies will be promoted, so that people can enjoy the exterior space, which must be a minimum of 4 square meters large.

The new housing regulations in the Basque Country have had contributions from different professional associations and architects, chambers, universities and public administrations, as well as from associations of people with reduced mobility, to achieve a complete document that is beneficial for the people who live in the homes to be built from its implementation on.

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The Master of Architecture in Collective HousingMCH, is a postgraduate full-time international professional program of advanced architecture design in cities and housing presented by Universidad Politécnica of Madrid (UPM) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH).  
Next edition of the MAS in Collective Housing will start in January 2021, the application period is already opened, and it will remain so untill 31.12.2020 or until vacancies are filled. Apply now!
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