Even odours are taken into account in a sensory accessible environment

  Sensory accessible home is fit for all. The Haltiatar house at the 2018 Housing Fair held in Pori, Finland features scent-free building materials among other sensory-friendly solutions.

Accessibility is a well-researched topic, and building regulations, among other things, require new buildings to take accessibility into account. For people with sensory defensiveness, accessibility may need to be more in-depth.

“Sensory accessibility could be defined as a particular balance between relaxation and sufficient stimulation. A sensory accessible environment is specifically designed to take our sensory faculties into account, eliminating all extraneous sensory stimuli, such as unnecessary smells and fragrances”, says lecturer and researcher Hanna Hannukainen from the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences.

Hannukainen researches sensory accessibility as part of an accessibility research group led by her university. The research group is currently developing and studying four different sites where sensory defensiveness is approached through different needs, and one of these sites is the Haltiatar house built for the Housing Fair in Pori.

“This is a detached house for an ordinary family of six. The materials, furnishings and colours of the Haltiatar house exhibit sensory accessibility in many ways. The objective is to create an entity, that utilizes natural materials, down-to-earth colours, indirect lighting, acoustically pleasing solutions, odourless products and materials with different tactile sensations,” says Hannukainen.


According to Hannukainen, the Haltiatar house is odourless, meaning that the kitchen cabinets are made using scent-free materials and only plants without scents may be chosen, among other things. Furthermore, the house is to be cleaned with fragrance-free products only.

There is a demand for fragrance-free products and solutions, as estimates suggest that some 15 to 20 per cent of people suffer from some type of sensory defensiveness.

“Hypersensitivity to odorants is one form of sensory defensiveness, which may be a very severe, even disabling condition. People who are sensitive to odorants should use fragrance-free cleaning and cosmetic products, and also favour scent-free construction materials. For example, fitted carpets may prove acoustically pleasant for people with sensory defensiveness, but they are challenging when it comes to odours.”

Fit for all

According to Hannukainen, sensory accessibility concerns us all. Some may absolutely require it, but everyone can benefit from it.

Whoever you are, your brain needs to rest and recover, and your home is the natural environment for that. This is why a sensory accessible home is first and foremost a relaxing place that allows you to defuse and release the stress accumulated during the day.

“Colours, materials, lighting and acoustics can greatly affect the stressfulness of the environment. Large white surfaces are often avoided in environments designed for those with sensory defensiveness, as fully white spaces are more difficult to make out. The senses find natural materials and colours, indirect lighting and soft shapes more pleasant.

Interested in fragrance-free house cleaning?

Kiilto offers a fragrance-free solution for cleaning with Kiilto Airi product family. Kiilto Airi products are developed in cooperation with the Finnish Allergy, Skin and Asthma Federation, and the products do not contain any fragrances or dyes. Find out more and explore the products here.