Universal design and an historical city: a case study

A late evening view of the pedestrian area showing street lighting and pedestrians. Real life examples of taking a universal design approach to urban areas are few and far between. This is especially the case for established city areas including those that are heritage listed. So, a universal design case study from Konya, a heritage city in Turkey, makes an interesting subject for a case study. This city has a history of many settlements over thousands of years that were not designed for modern day needs.  

Using the 7 Principles of Universal Design, the researchers carefully analysed the pedestrian area to find out what improvements were needed to be more accessible and inclusive. They ranked circulation space, pedestrian crossings, building entrances, parking areas, transportation stops, wayfinding and street furniture for their level of access and inclusion. 

Each principle of universal design is applied methodically to each aspect of the built environment. Photographs, tables and graphs help illustrate their findings.

The article begins with an overview of universal design and similar terms and reminds us that this is not “design for people with disability”. The article concludes by highlighting the areas in most need of urgent attention based on the analysis.

The title of the article is, Universal Design in Urban Public Spaces: The Case of Zafer Pedestrian Zone / Konya-Turkey, and is available from ResearchGate. It is a good example of how to apply the 7 Principles of Universal Design. The 8 Goals of Universal Design can be used in the same way.

Abstract: Individuals in society who have different requirements and needs (disabled people, elders, children, pregnant women, parents with strollers etc.) go through many difficulties while accessing urban indoor and outdoor services due to the constraints originating from built environment. Universal design is the design of the environment and the product that can be used by all the people. With it’s inclusive and unifying characteristics, universal design has become a design approach that have been adopted by the academia during the recent years. Planning and organizing the urban spaces with regard to the universal design principles will contribute to an increase in the life quality of all the people who use the city. This article aims to evaluate the usage of urban spaces in Zafer Pedestrian Zone, located in Konya city centre, within the scope of universal design principles. The concept of universal design in the historical process, universal design’s emergence process and it’s principles and significances has been discussed in the theoretical infrastructure section of the article. In the fieldwork section of the article, the suitability analysis of a chosen sample place’s space usage have been carried out scrutinisingly under four chosen headlines, with regards to the universal design principles and standards.