Housing quality and architectural practice are under scrutiny in building and infrastructure management in Norway, which claims to lead the way on universal design. Although there have been fundamental changes in the building code and regulations, it seems that none of this has guaranteed improvements in quality on the usability of homes. This is in spite of going further than most other countries in the direction of performance requirements.
Perhaps the reliance on regulations was misplaced in terms of creating quality. The authors of this article conclude that architects, more than any other group in the construction industry are trained to break conventional frameworks. How the regulations are applied by the user is the key to success – this is where the education of architects and building designers comes in. Architects are often willing to innovate, the authors claim. “One chief intention of the building code is to promote universal design in the built environment. It seems that the appending regulations may not follow up the intention as it could be expected. Amendments are probably needed and should be based on a broader view on the design process.”
It seems we could learn from this experience – regulations are one thing, but applying them appropriately and for maximum effect is another.