As Auckland grows over the next thirty years, our neighbourhoods will change and there will be new places to live, work and play. Good design is critical to meet the needs of the current and future population groups and ensure that people of all ages, life stages and abilities can enjoy Auckland safely, easily and equitably. 

People are at the centre of every project, so whether it is a building, a park, a street or a neighbourhood, it should be designed with people in mind.

We constantly interact with the built environment and rely on our available senses to do so. 

This means that design should be considered from the following points of view:

Visual — what we see
Auditory — what we hear
Tactile — what we touch
Cognitive — what we understand
Physical movement – how we move our bodies around

As we pass from childhood to old age, we experience changes in our senses and physical abilities which affect the way we perceive, use and interact with the environment around us.

People share many universal needs during their lifetime.  If these needs are considered at the start of the design process, the outcome can suit nearly everybody and also be easily adapted to cater for specific needs (if required) for little or no additional cost. This is the Universal Design approach: 
“design that makes things easier, safer, healthier and friendlier for everyone (Steinfeld & Maisel, 2012)”.

​​The uptake of a Universal Design approach is emergent in Auckland and New Zealand. Current building legislation such as NZ Standard 4121:2001Design for Access and. Mobility – Buildings and Associated Facilities provides some guidance, but often has an engineering approach. Also, the focus on accommodating people with disabilities in a special or different way both marginalises that part of the community and ignores the needs of other groups, such as children, expectant mothers, older people, migrants, and visitors. 

The Universal Design Hub provides information and resources to help you understand how people at various life stages and scenarios interact with the built environment.

It introduces a design approach usable by architects, designers, developers, etc. to make places that are enjoyable for all people and easy to interact with. This hub will provide you with guidance on how to achieve good design and a built environment that works for everyone.

The Goals of Universal Design provide the framework for what universal design aims to achieve – such as social inclusion, health and wellbeing, cultural appropriateness and equity. ​