Investigating the Use of Inclusive Design in Public Places and Architecture

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Draft:Investigating The use of inclusive design in public places and architecture


The main aim of the assay ,is to briefly investigate and explain methods used in order to create an all-inclusive enviourment in architecture, for people with various types of disabilities. Various topics, which will conclude to the final solution, will be the history, standard methods used for Barrier-free design and cases studies showing various s methods being implanted to create such an inclusive and non-stereotypical enviourment.

Definition of Inclusive Design.

Inclusive Design which can be also known as Design-for-all, Lifespan design, Barrier Free Design and Human-Centered Design is a movement aimed in creating products, enviourments and communications .which are functional and safe. Inclusive design is mostly aimed to create a non discrimitive and stereotypical enviourment which suits the need to adapt to all types of users mainly disabled, without the need of addition help. this helps to create a self-reliant society . (EBDFID p135). According to the Book “Universal Design Creating an Inclusive Work”, Inclusive design should not discriminate religion beliefs, class, gender, sexual orientation and most importantly disability, barrier free design believes in a word were everyone is treated indifferently and with the same human rights. (UD pg 15)

“Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

–Ron Mace 1988

In order for something to be considered as an Inclusive Design, it should contain the following Principles.

  1. Equitable Use (giving off equal opportunities to all users regardless their abilities)
  2. Flexibility in Use ( Can be modified to the users need)
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use ( It is easy to use whilst communicating, it’s function)
  4. Perceptible Information ( communicates information effectively)
  5. Tolerance for Error ( Provides communicative warnings when being used)
  6. Low Physical Effort (no need of additional strength and effort through the use of the space)
  7. Size and Space for approach and Use ( appropriate space is given to accommodate wheel chair users and various body types etc)

(UD pg 72)


The world Universal design was developed by Ronald, L. Mace about 20 years ago, who wrote the book “Universal Design, in Designers West”in 1985. Ronald,L.Mace was also the founder of the Center for Universal Design .

Throughout the years various laws, regulations and standards have been developed, all these helped with the development of creating barrier free design. (, 2013) Such laws came about as various injured war veterans. where seeing the importance of rehabilitation and more accessibility, before all this people with disability were concled and in no way integrated into society as there were special institutions for them, so people can take care of them. (NCSU). According to Oliver Heiss .one can see that the first type of inclusive design in architecture can be seen in hospitals which catered for the wellbeing of injured veterans (B-FD p10)

The Civil Rights Movement of 1960, was one of the first inclusive laws, although this was not based on creating an equal enviourment for the disabled .It was revolutionary as it helped create equal opportunities and stopped stereotypical racist comments against African Americans( jfklibary,2014). In 1961 the first disability standards were created being the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) 117. These laws which helped to create to create The Disability Rights Movements and legislations of 1970’s,1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s the laws were mostly applied in the Unitied States and helped in the creation of a modern and functional design .As one can see, from the history discussed in the book Barrier-Free Design it shows that the development of human rights for disability in Europe was much more laid back, and took longer to develop even though these 2 continents had the same types of problems. (B-FD P9).

In 1988 The Fair Housing Amendment was invoked as a solution in order to avoid discrimination in apartments for people with physical disability, the act was based on creating an accessible system, by including lifts, ramps .etc. This was the first law, which delt with the improvement of the architectural structure ( 2007).During this time Lewis Mumford, an architect critic also helped to promote Social architecture. In 1990 The first American with Disability Act which was based on some laws, found in the Civil Rights Act of `1964 was aimed so that architects could have guildles in creating public places ,which provide a service or employment identical. Opportunities, regarding their different abilities due to a disability.(D:MBA P30)

When implemented correctly, design for accessibility allows people to be where they need to be independently, efficiently and with dignity, and in doing so frees their own and others’ time resource.

According to the World Health Organisation a “disability” is the problem of having a difficulty which creates limitations and restrictions in a day to day activities. The types of disabilities encountered can be one of the following

  1. Motoric impairments which can be recognised by low muscle control, strength and paralysation ( not being able to control your body well)
  2. Mental impairments
  3. A Sensory Impairment is the lack of one of the 5 senses being vision, hearing, taste and smell.
  4. Cognitive impairments being problems with learning mental functions such as speech, remembering etc

(B-FD p9)

Inclusive design in public places is not only the architectural structure of a place new technologies are also being applied in order to help certain disabilities the American Disability Act covers various topics which also including “Fire-Protection without Barriers”, and ” Housing for the”. All these have various adaptations to the standard rules used as they contain different target users as explained by Oliver Heiss a building should be adapted to its needs and users. One can find that most rules and the best explains are those used in Public Spaces such as Offices, working spaces, museums and schools this is as the American Disability Act suggests such places should be welcoming to all users as possible without discriminating those providing a service and those going for a service. (B-FD)

Unfortunitly many architects still invision inclusive design mostly for people with mobility impaments this can be seen through examples of the Millenium Park in the US which does not cointain features which re suitable for all types of imparmnts even thouh it is inclusive for eople whicjh have mobility issues.


Design planning and impetation is an important step when coming to creating new architectural buildings as suggested in most of RIBAs video architectues usually create a consultant group of people with divers disabilities who will use the space being created, these members help to make important decisions of small details which help create an enviourment which is not only suitable for an average user but can suit to all type of needs.

Various case studies suggest different methods one can use to provide a suitable enviourment for the user. A particular example which shows inclusive design to all type of users is the Fleet Library at the Rhode Island School of Design,The library was created to exclude the sign of a wheel chair user as every 2 cubicals are not the same each cubical has particular withs and heights to adjust to diffirent body types and create a space where everyone can feel comfortable.An intresting fact is that book shelves are keept low so that everyone can reach all the books in the shelfs and the space is left as open as possible for people with mobility imparments. Ponce De Leon in an interview about the school also says how this design was not something that was re adjusted to the various users but was aimed to be suitable for all the diffirent users one finds in this library she argues the importance inclusive design is when learning architecture as most of the time it is over looked.According to Robert Siege the place has achived inclusive design also due to the new technology used throughout the area such as audio induction loops at the library main desk which helps people with heairing imparment communicate an understand better the speaker as a wave is automaticly connected to his hearing aid, also the use of natural lighting and good lighting helps individuals with vision problems to see clearly although the articles do ot state how the library is suitable or helps individuals with vision impairment, but explains that various textures are used to create contrast of space which as RIBA suggestes in its serious of videos can be used to help visualy impared individuals have a memorable user experience and show direction. The library makes universal design invisible whilst keeping the place safe and beautiful.( Architizer, 2014) (RIBA ,2009)(NPR,2010)

Hazelwood School in the City of glazgow is designed for kids who suffer from 2 diiferent imparments (dual sensory), they choose to include inclusive design in a fun and colourful way in order to communicate the space from people of 2 to 20 years of age .The school has a large windows to allow even distribution of light and use childrens residual vision. An intresting feature which the school is well known for is the unique trail wall made out of cork and various texture signifying the area their in this mostly helps lead children with vision problems due to touch whilst teaching them orientation skills and motivates them to move around which is important for kids which have certain mobility issues this fact can also be seen in serious of videos from Riba which spekes about the Eden Project and says the importance of touch and creating textures for people to gain an expirence.

Colours is also one of the main features used to show variation whitin spaces and also the use of curvetures and not habing sharp corners help children not to get confused

For children who have cognitive issues pictograms are used to help them gather information visually as they orientate throughout the school also brail is used efficiently through the space , one can notice that the pictograms used are simple images and have an effective colour which create a contrast with the backround . Keith Bright in the book Disability :Making Buildings Accessible states the importance of this as we perceive 70-75% of information through vision.(D:MBA PG82)(

As suggested by the RIBA Award mostly schools and old peoples homes are being given special attention to such detail One intresting example which is based on a Public space in Sweeden is the “City Lounge” in St.Galllen .

The City Lounge in St.Gallen Sweeden is a particular public space project created In 2005 which created something diffirent in conjunction to other projects one can notice have achived various awards for inclusivity . Although the place is mostly known for its artistic qualities and museum like experience as described by the magazine St.Gallens – Lake Constance Inspirations (Na)This suggest that a space should also have a nice user expirence in order to attract users as also stated in the book Universal Design (uN)

The space creating the city lounge is made out of a soft rubber granulated flooring ( Wetpour rubber) which is anti slip, non toxic and is considered hygienic and safe for children. ( ) The space is communicated to the user with the use of icons throughout the floor which insteantly communicate its meaning. The space is suotable for people with mobility, audio and cognitive issues but is not as much inclusive for those suffering with vision imparment as the space can be confusing due to the seemless design where tectile flooring is not used to create direction and space is not divided. The space is created to play with ones senses as every sense is given importance.An element which can also help people with cognitive issues such as Autisim is the use of such smooth shapes which are also used in institutions and hospitals which have individuals suffering from cognitive issues examples of places using similar technics are De Zeester an institute for children with cognitive issues and the “New Strun Center for Autisim in Allo” where its main architect Magda Mostafa where she also uses soft ages throught a space to provide flow and eliminate misleadingnes.(Archdaily2013)(Architizer)(B-FD)

Civil Rights Movement - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum . 2014. Civil Rights Movement - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 May 2014].