Analysis of kitchen design to include UD

Stylised drawing of a kitchen, somewhat 1950s style with pink and blue coloursSeveral Australian developers are claiming that apartment living is now the top choice for older Australians who want to either downsize or have a home with level access in the front door. However, it’s arguably no real choice if all you have to choose from is a retirement village or an apartment. While apartments usually provide a level entry, the internal design of the dwelling may not in fact support people as they age. Apartment kitchen design is an important consideration and is tackled in an article from Korea. Although many older people will not need to use a wheelchair at home, the design parameters are geared around wheelchair circulation spaces. The article includes several drawings of different sized kitchen layouts based on the analysis of user reach range and other capabilities.  

They conclude that there will still need to be specialised housing designs for people with specific limitations: “But a better alternative is to make common housing more accessible, usable, and universal for the highest number of people with varied capabilities…”.

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to suggest designs for apartment kitchens without major redesign for the elderly or the disabled, who are a fast growing population in Korea. According to the concept of universal design and the need to support various users as much as possible, five criteria for analysis were developed based on research on the mobility of wheelchair users: clear floor space, work flow, universal reach range, area for later use, and safety. Using the criteria developed, the accessibility and usability of five kitchen subtypes were investigated through the analysis of architectural documents. The result shows that kitchen layouts in Korean apartments are typically difficult to navigate for wheelchair users. Modification of the locations of the refrigerator, sink, and range was mainly required for appropriate clear floor space, work triangle, and countertops. Moreover, alternatives to five unit types were suggested without the need to increase the current kitchen size. For application of universal design to kitchen design, considerations for not only the size, the shape of the kitchen and its appliances but also for clear floor space, work triangle, countertop, reach range, and knee clearance formed by the location of each appliance are required.

KY Kang, KH Lee, Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering.

Survey of architects on UD education and implementation

architecture blueprint with rule and pencilThis paper reports on a survey of architects, architecture educators, and architectural technologists in Ireland to find out how they are dealing with the implementation of universal design principles. The researchers sought to address the following questions in the survey:

1. How inherent is Universal Design knowledge to current building design practice?

2. What are the current Universal Design education and training needs of Architects and Architectural Technologists practising in Ireland?

3. Which Universal Design themes and topics are of most interest to Architects and Architectural Technologists practising in Ireland?

4. To what extent does existing CPD for Architects and Architectural Technologists practising in Ireland address Universal Design topics?

5. What can motivate Architects and Architectural Technologists practising in Ireland to access Universal Design CPD?

6. What are the most effective means by which to deliver Universal Design CPD to Architects and Architectural Technologists practising in Ireland?

The survey is one phase of a longer study aimed at providing a research base for developing CPD in Universal Design for Architects and Architectural Technologists practising in Ireland. The title of the article is Universal Design and Continuing Professional Development for Architects: An Irish Case Study.

In Promoting Universal Design in Architectural Education, Jim Harrison, Kevin Busby, and Linda Horgan, argue there are some design tutors who perpetuate negative attitudes toward any change in design thinking or process. Hence they influence their students and practices don’t change. This paper provides an interesting and comprehensive discussion on ways in which architecture and design schools can include universal design into their curricula, and how they can work with other professionals such as occupational therapists who can explain the functionality of designs.Unfortunately this paper is published in a small Italic font and is difficult to read. 

Energy Efficiency and UD in home renovations

Roof of a house covered in solar panelsThis article argues that energy efficiency and universal design in housing are largely incompatible because the former has an engineering approach whereas the latter has a sociological approach. The authors view energy efficiency as a product (a noun) and universal design as a process (a verb) and infer that this is a problem because one has measurable outcomes (energy efficiency) and the other has not (universal design). The article is useful inasmuch as it puts energy efficiency and universal design into the same sentence. The article has some interesting and explanatory graphs and comparisons that are worth a look. 

Abstract: Policy and societal objectives indicate a large need for housing renovations that both accommodate lifelong living and significantly increase energy efficiency. However, these two areas of research are not yet examined in conjunction and this paper hypothesizes this as a missed opportunity to create better renovation concepts. The paper outlines a comparative review on research in Energy Efficiency and Universal Design in order to find the similarities and differences in both depth and breadth of knowledge. Scientific literature in the two fields reveals a disparate depth of knowledge in areas of theory, research approach, and degree of implementation in society. Universal Design and Energy Efficiency are part of a trajectory of expanding scope towards greater sustainability and, although social urgency has been a driver of the research intensity and approach in both fields, in energy efficiency there is an engineering, problem solving approach while Universal Design has a more sociological, user-focused one. These different approaches are reflected in the way home owners in Energy Efficiency research are viewed as consumers and decision makers whose drivers are studied, while Universal Design treats home owners as informants in the design process and studies their needs. There is an inherent difficulty in directly merging Universal Design and Energy Efficiency at a conceptual level because Energy Efficiency is understood as a set of measures, i.e. a product, while Universal Design is part of a (design) process. The conceptual difference is apparent in their implementation as well. Internationally energy efficiency in housing has been largely imposed through legislation, while legislation directly mandating Universal Design is either non-existent or it has an explicit focus on accessibility. However, Energy Efficiency and Universal Design can be complementary concepts and, even though it is more complex than expected, the combination offers possibilities to advance knowledge in both fields. 

Article by Ermal Kapedani, Jasmien Herssens and Griet Verbeeck. Faculty of Architecture and Art, Hasselt University, Belgium.

Sport and Recreation Infrastructure

front slide for Evan's presentation One more presentation is available from the UD Conference held in Sydney.

Evan Wilkinson: Design for Everyone Guide. The Guide is practical, free to use and caters for a range of design skills and backgrounds. The Victorian Government makes universal design principles a key part of their funding requirements. Evan gives several examples with lots of photos of sporting infrastructure. The presentation included a video which is very useful as it shows an architect, Peter Maddison, explaining the reasons for designing universally. It also includes other senior people, including the Government Architect, Jill Garner commenting on the benefits of UD. The six minute video,  Design For Everyone: A Guide To Sport And Recreation Settings is captioned. 

You can find the previously posted presentations by going to the conference updates tab.

UD in Higher Education

view of university of seville library with students sitting at desks. bookcases are in the backgroundWhile inclusive education at all levels is written into policy documents, strategies for implementation are sometimes few and far between. Barriers in many forms still confront students with disability in educational settings, whether it be the built environment, attitudes of staff and other students, or the design of the curriculum. 

The main the main objective of this paper, Inclusive University Classrooms: the importance of faculty training is to identity, describe and explain barriers and aids related to faculty that students with disabilities experience in classrooms. The paper is by a cross-disciplinary group from the University of Seville in Spain. Reference is made to the work by Australians Valerie Watchorn and Helen Larkin on this topic. It is interesting to note the recent frequency of articles by Spanish authors appearing in the literature on different aspects of universal design.

The picture is of the library at University of Seville.

Maps and colour deficient users

The colours of the rainbow arranged as a wheelColour is often used in map designs to help observers locate places of interest, and community amenities, among other features. However, not everyone can perceive colour in the same way as map makers. Members of the Faculty of Computer Science and Media Technology, Norway have turned their attention to map reading and the ability to discern different colours. Two articles were published from their research: Quality of color coding in maps for color deficient observers; and Colour coding of maps for colour deficient Observers. The latter requires purchase or institutional access. The abstract from the former follows:

Abstract: For a color deficient observer, the quality of a map or other information design may be defined as the ability to extract features. As color is such important conveyor of information, the colors need to appear correct and be perceived in the desired and intended way. As color appearance is affected by the size of the stimuli, the task of discriminate colors may be even more difficult for a color vision deficient observer. In order to investigate the discriminability of the color coding in an official Norwegian map product, we conducted an experiment involving both color deficient and color normal observers. Also, we investigate to what extent the ability to discriminate colors is influenced by size of the visual field. The experiment revealed that the color vision deficient observers made significant more errors than the normal observers, especially when the visual angle was reduced.


Universal Design Conference Presentations #2

cobie-moore-aesthetics-and-disabilityCobie Moore: Aesthetics, Design and Disability.  Cobie wants to see more thought going into the designs of some basic assistive technologies, such as pen grippers and walking frames. Designers fail to consider the notion that people with disability also appreciate attractive designs. Their designs might be functional, but ugly designs are stigmatising and therefore do not meet with the concept of inclusion. She takes us through the steps of “designing with aesthetic appreciation” and collaborative design. Cobie is a design student and says her study is informed by her disability. 

lee-wilson-exit-signsLee Wilson: Universal Design meets the Exit Sign. Emergency egress is an important factor in building design. No-one wants to get left behind. Lee presented the process of advocating for and designing exit signs that could be understood by the majority of people. Exiting a building during an emergency can be a fraught and frightening process for wheelchair users and people with mobility difficulties particularly when the only way out seems to be a stairway. People who are deaf or hard of hearing, and people who are blind or have low vision were also included in his presentation.

nick-loder-and-lisa-staffordNicholas Loder and Lisa Stafford: Moving from the margins in design education. Nick and Lisa focused on “spatial justice” in their presentation. They also gave an overview of some research on design students and their approach to universal design. They conclude that most design degrees do not embed universal design in full degree courses, that is, if they introduce the concept of inclusion at all. Usually it is taught as a disability compliance factor.

simon-darcy-universal-mobilitiesSimon Darcy: Beyond the Front Gate: Universal mobilities and the travel chain. Simon presented a keynote address focused on tourism and transportation and how the travel chain needs to be seamless. People with disability travel as much as the rest of the population and for the same reasons. The only area where people with disability travel less is to employment. Simon presented some interesting graphs comparing the rates of travel by people with disability and those without, as well as some of his own travel experiences as a wheelchair user. But just being able to go from home to the local tavern is also just as important as global travel.

di-winkler-justin-nix-summer-foundationDi Winkler & Justin Nix: An innovative housing and support project. The Summer Foundation is progressing the concept of inclusion with specialised accommodation and support for people with significant disabilities. While this project is not an example of universal design per se as the dwelling design is a specialised design, it does meet the concept of inclusion in terms of placing this accommodation type throughout a particular neighbourhood or multi-unit development. The presentation provides many photographs of two major projects. The Summer Foundation was set up in response to young people being inappropriately accommodated in aged care facilities.

Professor Gerrard Goggin’s Keynote presentation: Communicating Universal Design Across Virtual and Built Environments discusses the issues around web accessibility and how virtual and built environments merge in terms of design and accessibility. And how new and old forms of communication have always left some people out. 


Urban spaces and UD principles

Front cover of TeMA JournalIn spite of any political trouble in Turkey, academics and government staff are working behind the scenes to create universally designed urban environments. Turkey was one of the first signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and this is a likely driver of change. Published in TeMA (Journal of Land Use, Mobility and the Environment), Evaluation of Urban Spaces from the Perspective of Universal Design Principles uses the city of Konya as a case study to evaluate the current situation and pose recommendations for improvements in the public domain. 

This is a good resource for situations where urban designers are yet to address physical access and universal design in the built environment, or have addressed only the minimum access compliance requirements. The many photographs help to explain the issues. The seven principles of universal design are applied in a practical way using examples. The introductory section to the article explains why disability access alone is insufficient, and that inclusion of all people is the aim. Here is a section from the introduction stressing the importance of UD over basic access:

“… [I]t would be rather a discriminatory act to construct disabled-only designs. It would also be another discriminatory policy to establish the kind of institutions that were specifically catered to the use of disabled individuals alone. Disabled individuals themselves vehemently oppose such types of practices and demand to live under equal terms with the rest of citizens. In lieu of such approaches, it would be smarter to arrange the kind of settings and spaces in which all members of the community were comfortable to live collectively. The truth is that rearrangement of physical environment to suit to the easy-use of elderly and disabled individuals would translate to the structuring of physical spaces favorable for all users. In an attempt to generate solutions to the problems met in urban life by elderly and disabled individuals, it would be a reasonable practice to conduct all-inclusive arrangements to reunite urban spaces with the entire community rather than discriminate such individuals. Accordingly, during the stage of planning physical environment spaces, it is advocated to accentuate and employ universal design concept and principles recognized as an all-inclusive design approach integrating the entire community.”

Economics of Inclusion: Transcript of session

Picture shows Mandy at her stenographer machine composing the live captioning at the conferenceThe Universal Design Conference ended with a very popular panel session discussing the economics of inclusion. A brief rundown was provided last newsletter, and now the transcript is available. The transcript, with some minor edits, presents four different perspectives: property development, marketing, politics, and event management. There were many questions from delegates and these are also included. The panellists gave great examples and statistics to promote the economic argument and some take-home messages. The session was chaired by Nick Rushworth, and Mandy was the captioner (pictured).

Kelly Vincent and Paul Nunnari sit behind a table on the stage ready for the Panel session
Kelly Vincent, Paul Nunnari

Panel Members were Ms Ro Coroneos, Lendlease; Ms Sally Coddington, Curb Cut Effect; The Hon Kelly Vincent MLC, South Australia; and Mr Paul Nunnari, Department of Premier and Cabinet (NSW).

Download the complete transcript in Word or in PDF.  

Download separately by speaker: Ro Coroneos, Sally Coddington, Kelly Vincent, Paul Nunnari, and the Q&A Session.

For more on the conference go to the conference page.

Universal Design Conference presentations

marg-ward-pptMargaret Ward: Words that succeed, policies that fail. This presentation provided an overview of the status of the National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design, and the current lobbying activities attempting to overcome the inaction in policy implementation. You can also read the full transcript and audience questions.

abilgail-elliott-pptAbigail Elliott: STEP Up – Shape your space. The Victorian Government has been proactive in implementing universal design in sport and recreation. This presentation has good information and explanatory graphics that can be applied in other situations.

anthony-hogan-pptAnthony Hogan: Acoustic Accessibility: The issue of controlling social noise.  Understanding speech is what keeps people socially connected. The presentation at the conference included simulations of what speech sounds like to people with hearing loss thereby explaining why acoustics are an important consideration in building design.

emily-steel-pptEmily Steel: Beyond Ramps and Signs – design for neurodiversity. Community understanding about cognitive differences is improving. Emily’s presentation outlined barriers and facilitators for inclusion of a neurodiverse population, which of course, is good for everyone.

linda-m-c-pptLinda Martin-Chew and Bianca Opasinis: Designing streets for all. The City of Whittlesea has linked universal design and active living. This presentation outlines the process the City went through to come up with optimum solutions in the urban environment. A written paper is also provided.

helen-james-pptHelen James: Universal Housing Design – the New Zealand experience. Lifemark is a not-for-profit group working to influence the design of homes in New Zealand. This presentation shows their progress to date and collaborations with industry.

lindsay-perry-pptLindsay Perry: Angelman Syndrome: How can the built environment offer inclusion? Lindsay uses the Angelman Syndrome as a perspective or lens for assessing the design of the built environment and provides good case study solutions that suit the wider population as well.