Norway: A guide for universal design is not enough

An aerial view of a hospital courtyard showing gardens, seating and children's play equipment.Guides give guidance, but you need to know the point of universal design. Knowing the point is a key success factor in taking a universal design approach. This is what the Chief Architect of St Olav’s Hospital in Norway said about the way the hospital precinct was designed. That’s why a guide for universal design is not enough. 

The point is inclusion – it’s about society, not just design. This is what is lost in access compliance – few people know the point. An article in Citylab provides some examples of how Norwegian designers are embracing the principles of universal design. This approach is driven by the Norwegian policy Norway Universally Designed by 2025.

St Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim is a great example of how universal design is deployed across the whole hospital setting. That’s from the outdoor and external features through to the internal design. The Chief Architect says, “Guidelines are not enough, you need clear intentions. You have to know what’s the point of this”. 

The Norwegian policy, which was launched in 2005, also includes transportation, open spaces and ICT and communications. Nicely written article by Marie Doezema.

Olav Rand Bringa was part of the early movement and wrote about the processes in, Universal Design and Visitability: from Accessibility to Zoning.  He also presented at the UDHEIT conference in Dublin.

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