Culturally inclusive housing design

This page will help you consider specific and mainstream housing design features which can help organisations better meet the needs of some ethnically diverse communities. With a renewed focus on social house building and retrofit, local authorities and housing associations are giving serious consideration to meeting the housing needs of diverse communities. 


How does this link to Anti-racist Wales Action Plan? 

ARWAP asks housing providers and local authorities to:

  • Demonstrate how they will ensure that anti-racism and race equality are embedded within their services. This includes housing needs and conditions.
  • Housing associations need to comply with regulatory standards: RS1 c) evidence based commitments including anti-racism & RS3 b) deliver services which meet diverse needs
  • Use new LHMA process and guidance focused on better understanding housing needs of ethnic minority people.


What you need to know

  • NEW: WHQS 2023 requires social housing providers to meet cultural needs of tenants (element 6d)
  • Population size: Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups increased from 4.4% in 2011 to 6.3% in 2021 (Census 2021). Our Census ethnicity page will show you the detailed make up of ethnically diverse communities in Wales and in local authority areas.
  • Changing landscape: ethnic make up of non-urban communities will change. In the coming years, asylum dispersal areas in Wales will be widened from 4 local authorities to ALL local authorities. This means that mainstream asylum seekers will be housed in all areas of Wales. Upon successful receipt of refugee status, they will be in need of housing.
  • Culturally appropriate design can not only increase tenancy success, but also improve housing conditions long term: reducing wear & tear, reducing issues such as damp and mould and preventing costly maintenance & repairs.


What you can do

The below considerations are not one size fits all. Rather they are a combination of considerations for different cultures and lifestyles.

  • Check out our guide to culturally inclusive design from 2006. We will be updating and building on it in 2023 (member password needed).
  • Kitchen design: consider more hard wearing materials, appropriate ventilation, size & number of sinks, grease traps, placement of washing machine, storage for large pots and bigger sacks of food provisions; consider separate entrance rather than passing through living area
  • Bathrooms: consider wet room type environment, water resistant flooring and tiling, increased ventilation and windows which open, orientation of toilets, distance between basin and toilet (or provision of hose); consider providing bath and shower as running water is a preference in some cultures
  • Hallway: consider separate hallway (without open access to living space)
  • Rooms: consider flexibility of room design to cater for usage for more than one purpose
  • Living areas: consider more than one living area with interconnecting doors if possible to allow for male/female separation where required



Learn more

We are looking for case studies on this topic. Can your organisation share their culturally inclusive design example? Contact

Accomodation below has some inclusive design features to cater for different needs:

  • Red Sea House (Taff Housing) – ground floor wash facilities
  • Nightingale Housing (Cadwyn) – accommodating Halal requirements in the kitchen
  • Steffani Court(CCHA) – accommodation flexible to allow for multiple room use options
  • Swan Gardens Chinese Community Housing scheme (Caredig) – inclusive kitchen facilities, dual signage