Singapore’s Universal Design Index

Singapore embraced universal design principles in their building code in 2006. The government recognised the importance of designing buildings and homes for everyone. Similarly to other nations, Singapore’s population is ageing and some thoughtful planning was needed. Singapore’s universal design index is an assessment tool with star ratings for user-friendliness.

For building designers aiming to go beyond Australia’s minimum standards, this guide has specific design information to help. Plain language and lots of photos make this an easy to read document.

Front cover of the Guide to universal design index.

Singapore’s Universal Design index (UDi) guide assists architects, designers and building owner to understand the framework, procedure and applicability of the UDi. It has explanatory notes and photo examples that aid awareness and understanding. The guide is published by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority. It builds on other universal design guides, and the Code on Accessibility in the Built Environment.

It’s about being user-friendly

I took this photo of a sign at Gardens by the Bay in 2016. It is an attempt to show that universal design is not just about disability. Editor.

Sign showing symbols for wheelchair access and baby stroller access

The UDi provides indicators on the level of user-friendliness for each key user groups. The specific user groups are people with disability, older people, families with young children and expectant and nursing mothers.

The four key user groups: people with disability, older people, families with young children, expectant/nursing mothers.
User Group graphic from the Universal Design Index.

The guide is a building assessment tool with star ratings. The aggregate level of user friendliness across the user groups provides the Universal Design Index rating. This indicates the level of universal design implementation achieved.

A chart showing a five star rating from one indicating minimum compliance, to five indicating all groups considered.
User-friendliness rating scale as shown in the UDi guide.

And there is detail

This comprehensive guide has specific design details on circulation, wayfinding, sensory impairments, sanitary facilities and elder-friendly rooms, residential features, hotels, serviced apartments, and more. Some of the photos, such as sanitary facilities, and hotel rooms, look very disability-specific, but there are some good design ideas too.

In essence it is a relatively easy to read building guide presented as a self-assessment tool. It covers every design element you can think of in public buildings and residential settings. It’s also an exemplar of plain language that other guides could follow.

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