What is Universal Design, and why is it important?
Universal design is a design approach that factors in the accessibility of the building or space to a wide range of people. As we know, we as humans are not a carbon copy of one another- so let’s stop designing buildings that suggest we are. Universal design is all about creating spaces that allow everyone to partake and enjoy the area regardless of their height, age, body size, hand dominance, physical and mental capabilities.
Universal Design centres around these principles:
- Equitable use– all spaces should be available to everyone regardless of their diverse individual abilities.
- Flexible in use– functions are multi-functional and offer a variety of options to utilise.
- Intuitive– design is easy to understand and natural to use regardless of the users’ individual skills.
- Low-no physical fatigue– Spaces can be used and interacted with without much physical exertion.
- Size and Space– there is adequate space for all bodies to participate, reach, manipulate with ease.
At OSA, we are all about creating spaces for happier people, and we extend that sentiment to everyone. We all deserve to feel seen, heard, and welcome in our everyday spaces.
Universal design can be applied to:
- Schools and education environments
- Health and wellness facilities
- Urban planning and community spaces
- Parks and recreational buildings
- Public and commercial buildings
- Basically, anywhere!
When designing spaces that support our individual needs, it’s also important to consider how our overall wellness is being supported and enhanced. We are a passionate advocate for creating healthy homes for all New Zealanders. We support raising the (currently very inferior) building code standards alongside the Superhome movement and many other forward-thinking innovators in the industry. However, we acknowledge that our wellness is not just our physical state but also our mental condition. Our surroundings play a part in evoking that Joie de Vivre that makes life really worth living each day.
This belief extends upon the foundational elements of Universal Design to make spaces that allow us to feel fully accepted and supported along with fuelled mentally and emotionally.
Happy spaces create happy people, and happy people create happy spaces.