Universal design: designing for human needs

Graphic of Maslow's hierarchy of needs showing how all people are considered at the bottom two tiers, but only some at the top tiersThe Center for Health Design has published an article based on designing for human needs. It advocates for age-friendly workplaces, person-centred healthcare, ageing in place and active living.

Central to the argument in their report is the application of universal design. “When designing for aging, there are great opportunities at hand to design for ourselves – for every age – for all. An ageing population is not all about Baby Boomers – in 2046 the oldest Millennials will be turning 65.

The Maslow hierarchy of needs (as shown in the diagram) makes an appearance with the claim that designers think about the lower tiers for the young and old and reserve the upper tiers for young and middle aged adults. But why can’t environments support social system, fun, happiness, and inspiration at the same time as being safe?

Universal design is discussed as sustainable design, the triple bottom line, ageing in place, the workplace, and healthcare.  The report ends with “…universal design has the potential to bridge the gap between basic human rights and higher human needs – for everyone.” You can download the pdf, Universal Design: Designing for Human Needs – An issue brief on the impact of ageing.

You can visit the Health Design website for more topics and information.


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