Introduction

Good design is critical to ensuring that people of all ages, life stages and abilities can enjoy Auckland safely, easily and equitably.

As Auckland grows over the next thirty years our city will change, there will be new places to live, work and play. People should be 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 accommodate nearly everybody and cater for specific needs (if required) for little or no additional cost. The Universal Design approach is: 

“design that makes things easier, safer, healthier and friendlier for everyone (Steinfeld & Maisel, 2012)”.

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. 

The uptake of a Universal Design approach is emergent in Auckland and New Zealand. Current building legislation (such as NZ Standard 4121:2001 Design for Access and. Mobility – Buildings and Associated Facilities) provide some guidance, but often take an engineering approach. This 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 and functional for all people.