Wayfinding signage manual

University campuses have much in common, including the likelihood of getting lost and disorientated. This is largely due to the way each campus evolves with new buildings placed wherever land is available. That makes architectural wayfinding strategies impossible to follow. So if a university campus can come up with a good way of orientating people, it should be good for other situations.

There are a large number of buildings present on Edith Cowan University campuses which cannot be changed to accommodate intuitive, architectural wayfinding practices.

Edith Cowan University access and mobility map.

Wayfinding is essential for helping people to get out and about. Getting lost is not just inconvenient, it is stressful – especially if it causes a late arrival. The Wayfinding Signage Manual for Edith Cowan University outlines how and where signs should be used, designed and built. It is a technical document with a destination hierarchy, application strategy and graphic standards. An access and mobility map and an active transport map are also included.

Wayfinding and signage for walkers

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads also has a guide for people walking. This is another technical document offering specific guidance to wayfinding professionals. While walkers (and wheelers) have specific requirements they need to be woven into signage for cyclists. Well-designed wayfinding and signage encourages people to walk using routes that are safe.

People walking have specific wayfinding needs different from those riding bikes or motorists.

Pedestrians are walking towards the camera. They are on a wide walkway. Some people are looking at their phones. They are dressed for warm weather. There are buildings on each side of the walkway

The guide for people walking has a section on accessibility and lists several design elements to support accessible wayfinding signage. The wayfinding manual developed by the Cooperative Research Centre is referenced in this document. Although it was researched and developed in 2007 it remains an excellent reference.

Getting around QUT

Similarly to Edith Cowan University, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has a wayfinding signage manual. This rather lengthy document is also technical and was published in 2022. It begins with a wayfinding masterplan, signage principles and accessibility. It’s good to see accessibility at the beginning of the guide – this aspect is often left until last.

Planning walkable neighbourhoods in Queensland

Front cover of the guide showing a montage of pictures: a tree-lined pathway, a group of new homes, children on a cycles on a cycle path.. Planning walkable neighbourhoods.New residential developments in Queensland must be walkable and encourage physical activity. Specific legislation requires among other conditions, connectivity, footpaths and street trees. Blocks must be no longer than 250 metres and residents must be within 400 metres of a park or open space. To help with planning walkable neighbourhoods there’s a guide. 

This move is supported by the Street Design Manual for Walkable NeighbourhoodsAnd Walkable, should also mean Wheelable. The manual is designed to help engineers, designers and planners to design more walkable and liveable residential areas. It was prepared by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia in conjunction with the Queensland Government,

The guide covers open space, lot design, street design, active travel, public transport, landscaping and much more. At 160 pages is it comprehensive. There is a brief mention of people using mobility devices, children, older people, and parents with strollers.

Practice Notes

Front cover of the practice notes. A set of practice notes was added to the guide in 2020 and they are supported by real life examples. They cover:

    1. Walkable and Legible Neighbourhoods
    2. Increasing Trees
    3. Contemporary Lot Topologies
    4. Designing for Small Lots
    5. Rear Lane Design
    6. Design for Cyclists
    7. Building a Street Cross Section
    8. Traffic Volume

The second part on design detail was not available on the website at the time of writing. 

 

Smart Cities Playbooks

This post has four different smart cities playbooks. They are by UNHabitat, the Smart Cities Council, 3Gict’s Smart Cities for All, and the fourth is by two urban planners.

UNHabitat – People-Centered Smart Cities Playbooks webpage introduces a series of playbooks as basic components of their smart cities program. The aim of the playbooks is to empower local government to take a co-design approach to digital transformations. This is so that cities can work on sustainability, inclusivity and human rights for everyone. The playbooks are titled:

A city skyline at night against a backdrop of a computer circuitry board.
  • Centering People in Smart Cities
  • Assessing the Digital Divide
  • Addressing the Digital Divide
  • Shaping Co-creation and Collaboration
  • Infrastructure and Security
  • Building Capacity

Connected Games Playbook

The Smart Cities Council is on the front foot preparing their thinking for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They are focused on the digital aspects of the Games and have devised two smart cities playbooks.

Smart Cities Playbook No 1 sets the digital scene for the Games covering transport, facilities, housing and urban development.

Smart Cities Playbook No 2 provides guidance on the development of a South East Queensland Regional Data Strategy. Data is one the most valuable assets within the region but is undervalued and under utilised. The Strategy should support good governance and lead the implementation.

Five Pillars of Inclusive Smart Cities

A smart city uses communication technology to enhance liveability, workability, and sustainability. While the tech gets smarter it’s not getting more accessible. The most significant barriers to inclusion are lack of leadership, policy, and awareness, and limited solutions. James Thurston lists the five pillars in the Smart Cities for All Toolkit as:

  1. Strategic Intent: inclusion strategy and leadership
  2. Culture: citizen engagement and transparency
  3. Governance & Process: procurement and partnerships
  4. Technology: Global standards and solution development
  5. Data: Data divide and solutions
cover of Smart Cities Toolkit.

The Smart Cities for All Toolkit empowers city leaders and urban planners to make their programs truly “smart” by being inclusive and accessible by design.

Toni Townes-Whitley, Vice President, Microsoft.

You can see a 13 minute video of one of James’ presentations that covers similar ground. 

Busting myths about smart cities

Chelsea Collier and Dustin Haisler’s Smart Cities Playbook begins with myth-busting. The myths include: it’s all about technology; it’s only for big cities, it costs a lot; and only governments can do it.

The second part of their playbook focuses on best practices covering infrastructure, people and intelligence. The third part introduces seven steps to a smart-er community with practical worksheets for guidance.

Smart cities and intercultural inclusion

For an extension of smart city thinking, see a paper from Europe which addresses issues of migration and cultural inclusion. The title, is, Design-Enabled Innovation in Smart City
Context. Fostering Social Inclusion Through Intercultural Interaction
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Welcoming and inclusive communities

Universal design is mostly associated with the disability community but it is much broader than that. The concept of inclusion means everyone – people from all walks of life regardless of who they are, where they are from and what they can do. The subject of migrants and rural communities are often absent from discussions on inclusion. However, when it comes to economic growth, regions and migrants become the focus of attention. So a new guide on welcoming and inclusive communities is most welcome in this space.

Front Cover of the guidelines showing two children smiling at the camera. It is in greyscale and they are wearing hoodies.

The guide is written with local stakeholders in mind. It is a place-based, community-driven process. Understanding the barriers and enablers for different migrant groups underpins this universal design approach to settlement.

The Planning for Welcoming and Inclusive Communities guide focuses on successful regional migrant settlement. It has steps for making it work, and tools for implementing migration programs. The guidelines are designed to adapt the diverse nature of regions across Australia.

The guideline is based on research and is structured in three parts: an introduction, opportunities of regional migration, and initiating a settlement strategy. Seven appendices complete the document. The steps of assessment, consultation and planning are explained in detail with helpful guidance.

The individuals and organisations involved in the settlement process have an opportunity to contribute to the design of practical policy. Of course, when consultation is done well people begin to feel welcome.

Two men are smiling broadly at the camera.

Many migrants […] would preference rural or regional Australia above a major city, because of a strong desire to engage in farming activities. For many, this desire to connect with the land is more important than securing a specific type of employment or cost of living.

The guideline is a joint initiative of Welcoming Cities, Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre and the Queensland Government. The Welcoming Cities organisation has more to say about settling migrants in regional areas.

Inclusive and accessible street guides

Which street guide is the best? Well, that depends on which perspective you are coming from. Urban designers, transport planners, pedestrians and drivers all have a stake in streets.

Here are four guides from previous posts for reference.

five lane city highway full of cars.. We need car free zones.

If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.

Attributed to Fred Kent
Front cover of the guide. It is blue with white text. It has outlines of pedestrians trees, buildings and transport

Global Designing Cities website has the Global Street Design Guide available for download. The guide has sections for designing streets for kids, and implementing street transformations. The Global Designing Cities initiative was launched in 2014 and as the name suggests, it takes an international view. The website also has a series of short films.

logo of 880 cities initiative.

A Citizen’s Guide to Better Streets takes a holistic look at street design from land planning and zoning to streets as public spaces. The main concerns of traffic engineers, such as safety and function are also covered. The guide was published in 2008 but the issues are current today. It is on the 880cities.org website.

Front cover of the guide to healthy streets indicators

The Guide to the Healthy Streets Indicators from the UK has information and checklists in an easy to use format. It focuses on walkability without the express inclusion of people using wheeled mobility, but alludes to them. The guide covers feelings of safety, places to stop and rest, not too noisy, shade and shelter, easy to cross roads, and pedestrians from all walks of life.

Prototype of a universally design street with separate pathways for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

The American Society of Landscape Architects promotes green, universally designed streets. These safely separate pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, and public transport and use strategies to reduce reckless driving behaviour. The video below indicates the sensory overload that busy streets can create for some.

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Post pandemic public spaces

The Post Pandemic Public Spaces documentary series is about the future of our public spaces and the influence of the pandemic. The documentary was produced as part of the the work of the Urbanism faculty at TU Delft.

Eight researchers discuss their views on the future of our public spaces in a series of interviews. The researchers walk the streets as they describe the lack of accessibility and unequal access to public space. The video is subtitled in English.

This video focuses on mobility. Other videos focus on behaviour, challenges, and the final one concludes the discussion.

For more post pandemic videos, go to the TU Delft webpage

A cityscape with a foreground of parkland and woodland.

We can all agree that the COVID 19 crisis has affected everyday life. It has forced inhabitants to change their routines and thus the use of public spaces and amenities.

From the abstract

The fourth episode of the series presents the topic ‘Inequality’. In line with last episode, it is important to remember how mobility relates to (in)equality. The measurements taken during COVID-19 outbreak, such as social distancing and staying home, has shown that not everyone has or can have the same pattern, and/or is able to have equal patterns.

Public spaces in different neighbourhoods have different qualities. The pandemic has shown that not everyone lives under the same conditions and has equal access to public spaces. Distances to recreational (green) spaces can differ greatly, there is unequal safety along the routes. Places to sit and stay and relax are also not equal.

Public space is subject to power structures and the distribution of resources, and are unequal almost by definition, and consequently access isn’t available for everyone.

London’s inclusive design standards

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) is similar to the Sydney Olympic Park Authority. They are both focused on maintaining the benefits of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Sydney claimed the title of “most accessible games ever” and then the title went to London. Inclusive design is now a priority in all developments related to the Olympic precinct, and London’s Inclusive Design Standards are designed to show the way.

“Venues excelled in their inclusive design and the story could have ended there. However, LLDC embraced this approach and made ‘Championing equalities and inclusion’ one of their four corporate priority themes.”

Broness Grey-Thompson LLDC Board Member
Two people walk either side of a woman using a wheelchair. They are on a wide path in a parkland area. Inclusive Design Standards front cover.
Front cover of the Standards

Inclusive design is the favoured term in the UK while other countries and the United Nations use universal design. They mean the same thing – creating inclusive societies.

The Inclusive Design Standards begin with all the relevant legislation and standards followed by a page on how to use the document. The standards have four key parts: inclusive neighbourhoods, movement, residential, and public buildings. Each part has two sections – the design intent and the inclusive guidelines. The guidance is just that and design teams can create solutions that achieve the same outcomes.

The document is comprehensive in covering every aspect of development and design in great detail. Each section lists the intent of the design – the why – and then lists actions. Each section includes case studies and photographs illustrate ideas. The bibliography has additional resources.

This is clearly a standards document and not a guide. It has numbered clauses for designers to reference. As such, it is not an accessible document itself. The language and size of text makes for detailed reading. A summary document with the key points would be useful as a starter.

Victorian Government Universal Design Policy

The Victorian Government has updated their universal design policy which applies to the whole of government. Previously it sat within the health and building department. The policy is not just an empty statement – it has actions embedded. These actions begin with the procurement process for built environment projects.

Front cover of the Victorian Government Universal Design Policy.  document

Universal design is a design philosophy that ensures products, buildings, environments, programs and experiences are innately accessible to as many people as possible regardless of age, disability, background or any other differentiating factors”

Victorian Government

The policy is structured around the classic 7 Principles of Universal Design. The aim is for all Government departments and agencies to apply the principles to all stages of the project from the project proposal to the implementation and operation of the project. Specifically:

  • Undertake user engagement and co-design processes
  • Incorporate universal design principles into procurement and function briefs
  • Incorporate universal design principles into design standards

The summary document provides a detailed explanation of how each of the 7 principles might be applied.

The main document has more detail including how to apply universal design across the lifecycle of a project and co-design methods. The 7 Principles of Universal Design are expanded to include both good and poor examples of design outcomes. In short – what to do and what not to do.

Both documents are in Word format for easy access for all. This is also a good example of getting the message across with as few words as possible – another universal design feature.

The Victorian Government has been leading the way on universal design for some time. Other states could benefit from following their lead. See also Victoria’s Health and Building Authority policy as well.

Making streets safer for pedestrians

Aerial view of an intersection where bright artworks are painted on the corners of the intersection.

There’s a simple way to make streets safer for pedestrians.

According to a Fast Company article, most serious accidents happen at intersections. One way to prevent them is not a new traffic signal but a bucket of paint. Street art, literally on the roadway at intersections, seems to provide one solution.

The bright colours are difficult for drivers to miss and tend to cause them to slow down. Or at least, to be more cautious and more attentive to pedestrians. If it works as a traffic calming solution then it’s a good idea. However, is it a good idea for all pedestrians?

People with cognitive conditions and reduced visual perception could find the painted surfaces distracting. While the street art is welcome on the endless asphalt, it would be good to get user testing from different groups.

Aerial view of a street intersection showing the street art painted on the road surface. There is a mix of different brightly coloured patterns.

Don’t need new signals, just a bucket of paint.

The Fast Company article has many pictures of attractive brightly coloured artworks at intersections which tell the story. The pilot project was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and now it’s being rolled out in different states.

More than three quarters of the projects studied saw reduced traffic crashes after the artworks were installed. Now Bloomberg Philanthropies plans to continue the work in Europe.

The title of the article is, “The ridiculously simple way to make streets safer for pedestrians”.

Photos from the Fast Company blog site.

Is citizen science the same as co-design?

People sit around round tables discussing questions. There are four round tables shown in this picture. Is citizen science the same as co-design.Co-design is a term emerging in the field of accessible and inclusive design. But co-design methods have been around for a long time in one form or another. Academics will recognise this as Participatory Action Research. And now we have citizen science in planning. Is citizen science the same as co-design? In this context, yes. The common theme is that the people affected by design decisions help to shape them. 

The Fifth Estate has an article that discusses citizen science as a method of community engagement in planning. It explains citizen science as a type of research that actively involved members of the public in the research process.  Regardless, it makes sense to involve users in the process of the design. This is something the universal design movement has been advocating for some time. 

“Citizen science has a long history in conservation and environmental monitoring, but has grown in momentum in recent years across a range of disciplines, including planning and urban design.

Walkability in Tasmania

A citizen science approach is where residents audit the the local environment for barriers to walking. Residents identify priorities by using a walkability assessment tool taking photos, and participating in workshops. The information gathered is not only useful at a local level, but at state and national levels as well. 

” Our use of citizen science is enabling researchers, policy makers and community members to work together to generate data and establish priorities to support walkability that reflects community needs.”

The article concludes that community engagement in planning is hard to do well. However,  citizen science and customised technology are useful tools to shape urban design based on resident experiences. 

The title of the article is, Using citizen science o bring people backing into planning walkable and healthy places. There is a link to more resources from Communities 4 Walkability. 

The Age Friendly Checklist for Councils was derived from many consultations across NSW in 2012. The process was workshops, photos and resident experiences shared with local government staff. The content is explained further in a short webinar presentation. Reminder – what’s good for older people is good for everyone.

 

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