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 – you need to know the point of it.  

The point is inclusion – it’s about society, not just design. The focus on compliance with standards does not tell you the point, just what to do.  An article in Citylab provides some examples of how Norwegian designers are embracing the principles of universal design. The Norwegian policy Norway Universally Designed by 2025 is the driving force for change.

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”. 

relates to With a Deadline In Place, Norway Warms Up to Universal Design

“It looks like a nice urban environment,” said Onny Eikhaug, Program Leader at the Norway Design Council. “It doesn’t look like a hospital, it doesn’t smell like a hospital.”
DOGA, The Innovation Award for Universal Design

The Norwegian policy was launched in 2005, and 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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