Better Placed: Action for Good Design

Front cover of Better Placed.Policies and guidelines can be inclusive and thoughtful without needing to even mention universal design. The NSW Government Architect’s policy, Better Placed, has many of the elements of universal design without mentioning it. 

A universal design approach to any design is about taking a holistic perspective.  The Better Placed objectives are easily linked to the 8 Goals of universal design, which are adaptable to the language of any discipline. In this case it’s urban planning and infrastructure development. The key objectives of this integrated design policy for the built environment are:

    • Better fit
    • Better Performance
    • Better for community
    • Better for people
    • Better working
    • Better value
    • Better look and feel

The NSW Government Architect defines a well-designed built environment as healthy, responsive, integrated, equitable and resilient. 

The accompanying document, Implementing Good Design takes the ideas and turns them into actions. There’s an evaluation guide as well. 

“Better Placed confirms our collective wishes for the future design of our infrastructure, architecture, and public spaces, and endorses the power of design to enable a better and resilient future for our communities.”Peter Poulet, former NSW Government Architect.

Distant view across Sydney Harbour looking South. Probably taken from Tarongo Zoo

Urban Design Toolkit from NZ

View of Auckland cityscape and waterfront with piers and boats. The Urban Design Toolkit is from New Zealand.The Urban Design Toolkit is a practical manual explaining the what, the how and when of urban design processes. This New Zealand publication supports the implementation of their Urban Design Protocol. Each section is written in the same straightforward format with the same subheadings. Some sections give examples as well.

The five key sections are Research and Analysis, Community Participation, Raising Awareness, Planning and Design, and Implementation. The Toolkit is now in its third edition. There is no specific mention of universal design in the Toolkit, but some elements are evident in the Urban Design Protocol

    • competitive places that thrive economically and facilitate creativity and innovation
    • liveable places that provide a choice of housing, work and lifestyle options
    • healthy environments that sustains people and nature
    • inclusive places that offer opportunities for all citizens
    • distinctive places that have a strong identity and sense of place
    • well-governed places that have a shared vision and sense of direction.

The first section begins with an accessibility audit, but it does not mention the inclusion of marginalised groups. Taking a universal design approach to the framework adds extra value.

The New Zealand Ministry for the Environment published the online Urban Design Toolkit.

Accessibility Toolbar