Those pesky doorknobs. They’re just too tricky to figure out. Do you twist them left? Maybe right? Just how far do you need to turn them? All these tough questions have led Vancouver, B.C., officials to ban the use of knobs—for doors or faucets, for that matter—in its updated Vancouver Building Code, announced this fall to take effect in March.
While doorknobs won’t fade away entirely just yet, the continued demise of the knob certainly took another big step. Vancouver is the only Canadian city with its own specialized building code, so sometimes the changes made in Vancouver trickle into the B.C. Building Code and even Canada’s National Building Code. Could the push in Vancouver to end the knob seep into all of Canada?
The official reason to outlaw the use of doorknobs on all new construction—public or private—in Vancouver is to more closely follow universal design, the concept that we should design spaces to be usable by the largest segment of the population possible. A latched door doesn’t require the same tight grip as a knob, making it easier to use for a greater majority of the population.
While any building in Vancouver constructed before March 2014 can keep its doorknobs and even replace worn-out knobs with new ones, does regulating them for all private construction overstep the reach of the government? Already the city has changed out its historic 1936-made doorknobs at Vancouver City Hall in lieu of latches. But that is a public building, not a single-family home.
As Vancouver slowly removes knobs from its building and architectural landscape, will the rest of Canada follow suit?
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for TIME, Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.