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Putting people at the centre of urban design

Published: 4 July 2017

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Putting people at the centre of urban design

The Auckland Design Manual has introduced a new tool to help architects and designers cater for people of all physical abilities and stages of life when they are designing buildings and public spaces.

The Universal Design Tool is part of Auckland Council’s Auckland Design Manual website. The tool is a free online resource providing best-practice design guidance with diagrams, examples and checklists to inspire universal design, with more than 80 per cent of the examples from around the Auckland region.

Design for humans

Universal Design is about designing for human diversity, and making buildings and public spaces user-friendly and enjoyable for the widest range of people and abilities.

All people will have some kind of ‘universal design’ moment in their lives, where they find themselves potentially disadvantaged by their environment. It could be temporary, such as pregnancy or a broken limb; permanent, such as an ongoing disability; or something we all experience, like early childhood and growing old.

No one likes to be singled out as being different, and a universal design approach encourages people to design more cleverly, and implement design solutions that work for everyone.

Helping everyone stay safe

Councillor Cathy Casey says that good design is vital so that everyone can enjoy Auckland safely and easily.

“Our city is growing and it needs to be able to work for all of us at the different stages of our lives – whether we are able-bodied or differently-abled. We want to make Auckland welcoming, inclusive and user-friendly for all of us.”

Carina Duke, The Blind Foundation’s Practice Advisor, says The Blind Foundation was pleased to help with the tool’s development.

“Universal Design covers many of the aspects of design that improve accessibility for those who are blind or have low vision, such as colour, contrast, lighting and tactile features. This tool will provide people with a greater awareness of aspects of best practice and going beyond minimum standards to create environments that are inclusive for everyone.”

More tools available at Auckland Design Manual

The Universal Design Tool is part of a growing suite of design resources on the Auckland Design Manual website. It was developed in collaboration with the Auckland Design Office, the Universal Design Forum, and a wide range of industry professionals.