From Barrier-Free to Universal Design: Singapore’s experience

Siam Imm in a bright pink jacket making her presentation at the UD ConferenceDuring her presentation at the 2nd Australian Universal Design Conference, Ms GOH Siam Imm said, “Barrier-free accessibility encourages a mindset that you design a building first and then you start removing barriers to comply. … That’s no good. We needed people to think accessibility first, not last.” That is when in 2013 they incorporated universal design concepts to think beyond wheelchair users to all users.

Ms Goh explained how their journey began in the 1980s with basic access provisions, but the onset of an ageing population meant a re-think for this Garden City. Twelve storey residential buildings now have lifts to all floors. But the private sector is another matter and their innovative incentive scheme has gained traction. Siam Imm ended question time by saying that in her view Australia needed a central body to help disseminate the concepts of universal design and to form alliances with other countries to share knowledge and best practice.The edited transcript of her presentation (courtesy of live captioning of the event) explains the history and the incentive schemes for the private sector. The full transcript is also available.

Picture of the Interlace showing how eight storey apartment blocks can be stacked at angles besides and and top of each other.You can download the edited transcript in Word or in PDF.

You can download the full transcript including the question and answer session in Word or in PDF

The picture is of the Interlace – a universally designed development mentioned in the presentation.

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