Universal design is a new design concept that is becoming an important issue in urban design projects in many European countries.
The authorities are legislating rules and codes to obligate its application. Universal design, in short, is about making the buildings, streets and open spaces accessible by all users including weak users susch as children, disabled people and old people.
Everyone in the society should be able to use and live in the city. Many standards and design guidelines have been developed to help into realizing this goal.
My question: is this concept known in countries outside Europe? Do you have any debate about it? Do you have any experience about your cities' need for such design concept and policy in your cities?
Hoshiar, Design by bureaucrats can only be bad news for humanity. Legislating design tends to create "absolute" type mental blocks which mean designs are done in accord with the letter of the law and not in accord with the spirit of the law (as design guidelines only). :(((
Frank John Snelling
If the above explanation is correct, then Universal Design is very similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act and its Accessiblity Guidelines (ADAAG for short), which is now almost 14 years old.
ADAAG compliance was more universally accepted (and uniformally applied) when the design criteria was adopted into Title 11 of the International Building Code. This transferred a federal Civil law (which present enforcement problems for local non-Federal agencies) into a policy format that local jurisdictional authorities could support.
ADAAG primarliy restricts itself to the the design of building systems for public spaces, but there has been some movement to have local communities adopt what are termed visitability standards. Such standards would allow private homes to be more easily retrofitted to accommodate the mobility needs of the disabled or aged. Many form-based codes (and SmartCode) have codified visitability standards.
Universal design in Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, is not only about disabled people, but all types of users in the built environment.
Therefore it has a larger definition and is more comprehensive than simply creating accessibility. The intent of universal design is to simplify life for everyone in the society by making products, communications, and the built environment.
Universal design should be an integrated part of urban design, building design, street design products and communications.
In this way it will be possible to make them usable by as many people as possible with less complication. Therefore, universal design aims to benefit people of all ages, categories and abilities.
I am not much for mandating such things, especially in the home, but I am generally supportive of Universal Design. There is a house in the big city near where I live that serves as a laboratory of sorts. It is an actual home built by a woman in a wheelchair who lectures frequently an accessibility. I wrote about it at Handicap Accessible Homes and at Wheelchair Accessible Homes. It is a very pleasant house, built in the Prairie style. The main differences are in the switches and handles and cranks and locks, which are reachable from a wheelchair, the absence of carpeting and lack of raised thresholds,pocket doors, counters at multiple levels and with indents underneath to allow a person with a wheelchair to work at the counter. Except for a few features, like a roll-in shower, it doesn't strike one as being any different from any other house.
"Universal Design" is another one of those modern bureacratic fascisms which seeks to not to engage the free will of people to do something, but to force people to do something against their alienable right to free will.
And a prime example of modern bureacratic fascism is the use of "sleeping policemen" instead of 20 MPH speed limit signs.
Note: "Sleeping policemen" are the various lumps and bumps (kerb to kerb or `pillows`)added to roads to force road users to slow down, whether or not they are good drivers or bad drivers. In other words, everyone is automatically assumed to be bad at driving, and so the innocent (good or safe drivers) suffer along with the guilty (bad or unsafe drivers).
Whereas, a 20 MPH (32 KPH) sign allows for the free will of the driver to determine whether or not he or she will drive safely.
Therefore the use of "sleeping policemen" is in direct opposition to the fundamental principle of Law in the UK is that "You are innocent until proven guilty".
I can accept that public buildings need a code of practice when designing for use by all people, but the problem with bureaucrats is that "mission creep" will sooner or later mean that such a code of practice will be applied to, and enforced upon, the construction of private buildings.