Universal Design And Finding Its Identity English Language Essay

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The thesis shall describe the basic principles of Universal Design, such as the 7 main principles, which can be summarize as creating space or objects which are assessable, flexible and ease of use for a wide group of individuals of varies needs. The two main criticisms are firstly, that the principles of Universal Design are insufficient due to the principles only addressing the physical needs and security of individuals, but not the emotional feelings of security of individuals. "Being secure but not feeling secure", the second issue to be address is the idea of "designing for all" which is part of the philosophy of Universal Design. The thesis questions if "it's wise to design for all?" the argument that attempting to design for as many individuals as possible, risk the space or object losing its identity, due to it attempting to please everybody but risk not pleasing anyone at all, becoming standardize and similar to other places of similar programs.

In the process of answering these questions and criticisms, the thesis shall explore the idea of "ideal proportions of the human body" such as the modular man by Le Corbusier, and question the existing guidelines of accessible design. The identification of the emotions and feelings that would bring a sense of security will be explored, and the psychological as well as architectural aspects shall be discussed. Product designer Hartmut Esslinger, and his concept of "Emotional Design" and how that could be incorporated into the new Principles of Universal Design is explored as well as with assistance from other case studies in which the idea of "feelings of security" are identified. After the answers for the questions raised in the thesis are discovered, the thesis explores the possible benefits as well as repercussions of the Universal Design on the future of humanity such as over-designing and the possible future would look like with the newly incorporated principle of "Feeling Secure".

The thesis concludes by re-affirming the results of the two questions of the thesis. Firstly that space should have a clear target group to design for, but in the spirit of Universal Design, it can accommodate more as long it first addresses the core. Secondly, by identifying the feelings of security, trust, comfort, discovery and the benefits of incorporating and complimenting the existing physical principles of Universal Design, it can evolve into a design style that is about "Being secure as well as feeling secure"

Content Page

Chapter Page no.

Introduction……………………………………………………………………….. 4, 5

The principles should be questioned………………………………… 6

The problem of designing for all and should we?.............. 7

Flaws of the ideal proportions……………………………………………..7, 8

The lack of a significant principle, "Feelings of security"……9, 10

Identifying the emotional dimensions of Universal Design…11 - 16

Introducing Product Designer: Hartmut Esslinger………..…….16-17

Case Studies…………………………………….…………………………………..18 - 21

Possible Applications of Universal Design…………………………….22

Cautions of Over-designing……………………………………….………..22-23

Conclusion "What the possible future would look like"……….23-24

Reference List………………………………………………………….……………25 - 29


The essay will talk about the creation and fundamentals of Universal Design, as well as a brief introduction into the 7 principles in which the topic is base on. It will explain that it is not a design style but an orientation to design, but the essay will argue that it is insufficient in addressing its needs of archiving certain social agendas which the space is choosing to address. The essay will also take criticism with the intention of trying to design for all. Within Universal Design, there is an idea for "designing for all". This is define as design which considers the special needs of as many different groups of people as possible. By doing so, Do we risk losing the identity of the space or worst, not pleasing anybody at all, caused by not identifying a core group to design for.

This two issues, will be the bases of my criticism of Universal Design in its current interpretation, the issue of a lack of a significant principle and a proposal of one, while would enhance the overall design thinking while giving justification to it. The second criticism would be the idea of designing for all, and posting the question; "Should we design for all? "Would the space lose its identity in its quest to accommodate as many people as possible?

In seeking justification for these questions, I will look into the "modular man" and the idea of the ideal proportions. In regards to the criticism of the lack of Core principles, I would suggest "feelings of security" as a significant proposal, and to be specific, the feeling such as, "security, comfort & discovery" in regards to Universal Design, through research in psychology, Hartmut Esslinger the product designer who conceive the quote "Form follows emotion" with the idea that the form a space or object takes, is derived from the emotion it is intended to portray.

In summary these questions and the proposed solutions will take us on a journey between current practices, ways of thinking, exploration of emotions, what triggers them? How these could be evoked through spaces. The journey begins from the principles of Universal Design.

People seek to explore and stimulate their senses regardless if they are able bodied or not. Universal Design, namely developed by architects Ronald L Mace (nscu, 2012) and Selwyn Goldsmith (telegraph, 2011), attempts to address the special needs of different people within the space. The question is, "Would we want to design for all?" and "Would the principles of Universal Design be sufficient in its current state?" To comprehend the scope of these questions, we shall first understand the fundamentals. The 7 core principles of Universal Design, are briefly described by Oliver(2008, pg 170, 171):

"Equitable use" design which benefits special needs.

"Flexibility in use" design which is adaptable to a range of individuals.

"Simple and Intuitive Use" design which is easy to understand.

"Perceptible information" design which conveys information clearly.

"Tolerance for error" design which has a high tolerance of mistake.

"Low physical effort" design which does not need to exert much physical energy.

"Size and Space for Approach and Use" Sufficient space or dimension to accommodate needs of diverse individuals, Oliver (2008, pg170, 171).

Bringing the question back again, "would we want to design for all within the space?, and would the space risk losing its identity because of its quest to try to please everybody?" that being said, could the issue be addressed by proposing additional core principle, "emotional content within the space?", which is lacking in the guidelines of Universal Design by neglecting the "feelings" and the power of "emotions" and only currently seeks to address the physical needs of the users of the space. Certain topics shall explore and interpret qualified individual opinions ranging on the "ideal proportions", psychology of security, risk assessment, significant of emotions and special forms that evoke it. These issues will be addressed further within this essay.

Firstly, the fundamentals of Universal Design seek to create spaces accessible to everyone, by identifying and addressing their special needs. This is commendable and should be encouraged. However in the case of average or ideal proportions which Universal Design guidelines incorporate in the quest to have spaces designed to accommodate as wide a range of people as possible, this attempt to find a middle ground to please everybody's needs with a one size fits all, is a paradox to Universal Designs attempts to design for the different and special needs of individuals and the groups they fall under.

It has been discussed about what should be included under Universal Design, since it has a "social justice agenda", so it cannot just be for the "handicapped" as described by Edward Steinfeld, director of IDEA Centre (2006). However, physically preparing the spaces for the targeted individuals does not totally fulfill the social justice agendas which Universal Design seeks to address. This is because, they may be secure only to the extent that they are able to navigate through the space but this does not necessarily mean they feel secure. The difference between being and feeling secure is that the former is a physical aspect in which through guidelines and best practices, the individual will be provided physical aid in navigating the space, while the latter focusses on the emotional wellbeing of the individuals utilizing the physical aspect of the space, invoking a positive emotional response through the senses which make the individual feel as if he could transcend his apparent limitations and feel confident enough to navigate the space.The "Vitruvian man" created by Da Vinci (Fig.1) and later the Modular man by Le Corbusier (Fig. 2) seek to attempt to identify the "ideal" proportions of the average human male, and thus design around this formula, which is based likely on the average English male for the modular man, Francis (2007, pg 318).

Figure 1:Modular Man Figure 2: Vintruvian man Figure 3: Handicap guideline

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It is beneficial to have a system that allows for efficient design without having to second guess the right proportions for people, as it serves the progress of humanity well. If one were to step back and look at it from a macro scale while keeping in mind that an average English male proportion is the basis in which Le Corbusier crafted his spaces, in the context in which the concept was created, it would be functional indeed, but if an architect in Japan was applying the exact same formula, even to an average Japanese man, the experience would be different, due to the average proportion between a Japanese and a English male would vary "effected by the eating habits and environment" (disabled-world, 2008). Hence the comfort level would vary between the two groups, though they would still likely have the same experience within the crafted environment, with variation.

One would like to think that the average proportions derived by Le Corbusier would include the average female proportions, but the choice of symbols, in the male form, would be rather deceptive much less those not deem within the "average" of ideal proportions. Compare that with typical books on Universal Design and accessible design and accessible design which also displays an "ideal" disabled man. (fig 3. Shown above)

Universal Design seeks to design for all, and be as inclusive as possible. Yet, the current guidelines which are created to assist in that social agenda, follows the same language as those standards of proportions which were derived from the past (fig.3, shown above). By imposing the "ideal" proportions on individuals with special needs, it assumes that each person has needs of the same degree. Christopher N. Henry, an architect specializing in architecture for autism, is quoted saying "This one-size-fits-all mentality consolidates variation instead of celebrating it" (Archdaily, 2011). Universal Design is flawed by the fundamental obsession over average or ideal proportions. By finding a middle ground and attempting to please everyone's needs with a one size fits all, it contradicts with Universal Designs attempt to design for the different and special needs of individuals and the groups they fall under, (Archdaily, 2011).

This enforces the answer to the question "should we design for all? No, but should this mean that the space or object should not try to accommodate a diverse group of people with different needs as in the principles of Universal Design? It will be explored further in the following paragraphs.

Just as in marketing, it is wise to identify the target audience (webdesignerdepot, 2011), to research what they like or dislike to incorporate. Once the core needs of the target audience is fulfilled (Fig 4. shown below). In the spirit of Universal Design, a wider group of people can be accommodated, but a target group should be identified within the space so as to be able to craft a space which has character and identity, this also applies to the choice of feelings and emotions chosen to be implemented within spaces so as to keep it clear and distinct.

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Figure 4 (Refer to reference list for image source)

Before exploring the second issue of including feelings of security into Universal Design principles, we shall explore the basic needs of people and how emotions and feelings fit into the whole framework of needs. In the book "Rethinking design and Interiors Written by Shashi Caan" the term "Un-Universal Man" which is basically the "ideal, proportions in which to reference in designing spaces for people, as interpreted by various people be they the likes of previously mentioned Le Corbusier or Leonardo Da Vinci but is insufficient for meeting the needs of individuals. Caan is quoted to say "For design to produce solutions that truly address human concerns, the Universal man must be redrawn and three distinct categories of needs must be envisioned". The three categories (fig 5, shown below) are "Innate physiological and psychological" which can be defined as "human nature" consisting of social and ecological needs, second, "Culturally specific needs" which can vary depending on location, time and history. And finally and arguably the most difficult one to address would be "individual needs", which varies between people and their perspective of what they take priority in, though there can be common similarities between individuals in their need for belonging, pride or trust, just how they would interpret that. (Caan, 2011)

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Figure 5 (Refer to reference list for image source)

The sphere of human needs displayed in the image above, by Shashi Caan in her book "Rethinking Design and Interiors" describes in a much broader sense the needs of the human individual, she complimented this with the "Triangle of human needs", which summarizes in detail the emotional, psychological and physiological needs of the individual (Fig. 6, shown below) which we will explain further in the following paragraps and how these feelings identified are well suited to be incorporated into the Universal Design principle of "Feeling Secure".

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Figure 6 (Refer to reference list for image source)

Shashi Caan interpretation of Grant Hilbebrands book Origin of Architectural Pleasure, "The human quest for survival is aided both physically and aesthetically by the nature of contrast in our physical environment. This includes areas of cover, intimate volumes within which we are in charge, and areas of openness, or massive spaces within which we relinquish control" (Caan, 2011). This basically taps into our most primal need for safety, in which can most commonly be experience in primitive days as man lived in caves, surveying the great expanses of land from the safety of a cave and protected in spaces they cannot constantly survey. Shashi Caan furthers states that understanding the different materials such as fabric or something more tough and solid like concrete or brick would evoke a different emotional response, part of the basic human needs of cover and open space. Caan emphasizes "When Consciously in command of these principles, the designer has the tools to create the desired emotional response in all people" (Caan, 2011). Understanding and identifying the fundamental and basic needs of the human condition, thus being able to craft and design new spaces to interpret and invoke in greater effect the necessary emotions required to live a healthy life.

Turning to the proposal for the inclusion of "Feelings of security" into the core principles of Universal Design, how does one define it? A good place to start would be the theory by Donald A. Norman in his book, "Emotional Design" (2004, pg38). As a cognitive scientist, his theory is that people perceive and judge design in three levels, "Visceral, behavioural and reflective". Visceral is the aesthetic quality of the object, or visual stimulant, Behavioural is how it feels, its usability while reflective is a deeper level, in which one had to reflect on the design and in time, it would invoke memories, reflective of one's self - image and if one can identify with it, evokes a sense of joy. An example would be observing an old rocking chair, Viscerally it may not be pleasing due to its age, but it triggers a sentimental response, due to the memory of the observer, recalling a fond childhood which is associated with the rocking chair, He may recall how comfortable it was swaying back and forth, and concludes that it is pleasing on a behavioural and reflective level, In addition, one could restore the chair, to improve it on a visceral level. Just by observing the chair, the brain judges it on three difference levels. It can be argued that great design, attempts to fulfill all three of this levels to some degree.

In the context of Universal Design, the current guidelines work on a "behavioural level". It intends designs to be easy to use, as well as accessible to people with special needs and the general population, Donald, (jnd, 2012). As Universal Design only seems to fulfill one aspect of the theory mentioned. It is of no wonder that Universal Design is describe as "not a design style, but an orientation to design" (accessiblesociety, 2010). It can be argued that a Design style would likely invoke some kind of characteristic emotion, be it the feeling of serenity of "Minimalism" or the energy of "DE constructivism" in the writer's opinion. Before one should attempt to identify the characteristics of Universal Design, it is good to understand the attributes of emotions.

Donald A. Norman made an interesting observation in his book that "a positive emotion is not necessary good and a negative emotion is not necessary bad, depending on the context" (2004, pg24). This reference to define positive or negative would tap on the emotional level of visceral design, behavioural design and reflective design to some degree or not at all, for some levels.

Imagine the three levels stack on top of each other, with the Visceral at the bottom, followed by behavioral in the middle and reflective at the top. These three levels and the process it is accessed be it from the visceral level up to the reflective "bottom up" or reflective down to the visceral level "top down" as was invoke by the "rocking chair" example earlier. All these have a cognitive and an affective component. "Cognitive to assign meaning, affective assign value", Donald A. Norman goes on to give an excellent example on the interplay of positive and negative emotions using the experience of a rollercoaster. The roller coaster taps into our visceral sense of fear and after the ride is accomplished and we so to speak, "rise above our fears" having, conquered it. It taps into our reflective level, which is our pride of accomplishing the ride. It helps to define us against those who refuse to take the ride due to fear (2004, pg24). This knowledge could be translated for Universal Design, encouraging an elderly to climb a few steps to be rewarded with a relaxing balcony and a comfortable seat, strengthening her legs in the process through exercise.

Another quality of the interplay of positive and negative emotions is the qualities that it invokes in our state of mind. A space which is positive helps to relax the mind, calm, and open to new ideas, giving one the ability to see the big picture. A negative emotional space would invoke tension, anxiousness, focusing the brain to deal with the problem or space, a very primal state of being, but necessary for survival, Donald, (2004, pg25). Depending on the use of the space, positive and negative emotions can be used to assist the brain to focus and deal with the task at hand or on being open, relax and potentially creative. The ability to transition between the negative and positive tapping into and alternating between the three levels gives the space a potentially engaging or dynamic feel to it, with a risk and reward mechanism.

Keeping the above theory in mind, without yet the implementation of Universal Design, picture the image within your mind, an individual who turns into a long dark corridor would immediately notice it was dark. But when one looks at the end of the corridor and sees that the walls, floor and ceiling of the space, frames what seems like a well-lit open space at the end, with the sky and trees in the background over what seems like a parapet, hinting at a balcony. The individual notices the breeze being funneled down the corridor, and smells the salt in the air, hinting to a view of the sea. Dotted at consistent lengths are pockets of light being funneled from the sides, informing that the journey through the space would have pockets of relief, when the individual finally reaches the end of the space out into the balcony, one is rewarded with a beautiful view. Risk and rewards, this ability to utilize negative emotions and the willingness to overcome fear is most likely with the precedence of "security". No one in their right mind would attempt to ride a rollercoaster without safety and security in mind.

The feelings and emotions of "security" will be the cornerstone on building the emotional principles of Universal Design. Why the feeling of "security"? It is derived by the existing 7 principles which use physical guidelines to provide safety and security for people with special needs. As mentioned before, it only addresses this on a behavioural level, proving accessibility and assistants, It does not tap into the reflective level, although to some degree it does tap into the visceral level, especially in designing easy usage by using visually informative yet easy-to-read designs especially for the visually challenged and elderly who have a weakened sense of sight. But again, there is a marked difference between "feeling" secure and "being" secure. Understanding how the brain handles "risk management" helps us understand how we could potentially craft space which feels secure, and not as in its current state in Universal Design, which through its guidelines focuses on "being secure".

In the paper written by Bruce Schneier, a security technologist, on 'The Psychology of Security', it describes how people perceive risk and that feeling secure does not necessary mean they are (Schneier, 2008). The writer seeked to understand why there is a divergence between perceived risk and what it really is. Of interest to this paper is the particular aspects of his study, which considers what may be a "key trigger" to having people feeling secure even if it does not match up to the actual scenario or situation.

He concludes that "familiarity with it helped them see it differently" and, "most people are less afraid of a risk they choose to take than of a risk imposed on them." A good example would be the choice of smoking compared to the negative reaction of a car driven by an individual with a faulty exhaust spewing smoke past them, Bruce, (schneier, 2008).

Understanding how people perceive risk and security and backed up with Donald A. Norman's studies on emotional design, we have a better understanding of how one approach could include positive feelings and emotional design into the core principles of Universal Design. Although a definitive conclusion has not been reached, it has been discussed that emotions and feelings have a difference but are closely linked. Furthermore, can be summarized that objects draw and invoke emotions and that feelings are cumulating experiences of these emotions, (authentic-systems, 2009). With the basis of security as a desirable emotion, other feelings that can be generated would be confidence derived from this feeling of security. There can further be feelings of curiosity, which leads to discovery and the generation of emotions of joy.

To further enforce these characteristics of "Feeling secure", we shall return to the perspectives of the architect and writer Shashi Caan in her view of feelings required and basic needs of human beings. Shashi Caan has an interesting perception in regards to security, and she argues that the modern man does not" fear nor face the same threats as our primitive ancestors." Instead it has grown to another form," the need to trust". In her words "in order to feel secure, people want to know that they are valued members if their community, whether this means being indispensable at work, being an important contributor within a collaborating team, or taking care of family members". She writes about design inspiring trust in "places, objects, and systems", design which enables the full democratic participation of all individuals within society, "through ease of access and mobility" and for all people regardless of gender, age, economic status, nationality, ability, or education." Thus creating a climate of equality, it allows community members to be better versions of themselves.(Caan, 2011)

Caan speaks of Universal Design, even though she did not categories it as such. To create a space of trust and in effect security, one can interpret it as creating space in which equality is paramount, but not in the sense that everyone is equal physically, but in the sense everyone despite their differences, are equally given with the same rights of comfort and opportunities for self-empowerment within the space.

In regards to safety in Urban Design by Jane Jacobs 1961 in the book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" she states that three conditions for safety; first, a clear difference between private and public space, they should not blend like in suburban settings. Second, there must be eyes viewing the street, no spaces that can be blindsided, or blind spots. Thirdly, she states that the sidewalk must have users on it as often as possible, to have a constant flow of people watching over the space as well as the people living adjacent to the street, to observe it. (Jacob, 1961)

Comfort is derived by crafting space in which has contrast in which to cultivate "a state of sensory stimulation" (Caan, 2011). Just as our bodies are part of nature, so is nature is rich in opposites and contrasting elements. In doing so, we counter the monotonous environments we tend to build for ourselves. A good example, would be an environment for office work, bath in white light, in a clean organize environment, contrasted with a view of nature, and the sound of flowing water, possibly from a fountain. As we focus for long periods of time, we tend to tend to get distracted by the rustle of trees or admiration of the sun setting, in doing so, gives our minds time to rest, and possible inspire us, thus with a mind refreshed, we return to our work with a new "set of eyes" so to speak.

This sense of peace and harmony as well as discovery can be invoke through contrast, be it through light or shadow, public and private space, quiet and loud, small or large, opaque and transparent. (Caan, 2011)

Emotions and feelings within the new proposed principle of Universal Design of "feeling Secure" can be summarised. Security, comfort, confidence and joy of discovery are produced. In the following paragraphs, A product designer who while did not develop the theory as detailed as Donald A. Norman, was one of the original pioneers of applying emotions into forms, putting into practice what was preach and possibly inspiring the theory mention above.

Introducing Product Designer, Hartmut Esslinger

Figure 7 (Refer to reference list for image source)

Hartmut Esslinger (fig.7, shown above) was one of the leading designers and innovator of the concept of emotional design. He helped Steve Jobs of Apple with his company Frog Design Inc. and created the Apple's design formula of the simple to use, white and beautiful unison of software and hardware (businessweek, 2011). In his own words" I always felt that "form follows function"? Was a simplistic and misunderstood reduction of Sullivan's wider description, I also believe that "function" is a must, however humans always strived for a deeper meaning "(design-emotion, 2006). He believed that "function" was a given, yet humans always seek to express themselves and seek deeper meaning. In a sense, it could be seen as seeking a way to stimulate them on a reflective level and visceral level in reference to Donald A. Norman theory.

Esslinger created the "Snow White design language" for the mac computers, by creating the illusion that it was smaller than it actually is using horizontal and vertical strips and varies shades of white as a colour choice, (businessweek, 2011). Because of his work, we enjoy the new Apple products such as the IPAD and IPHONE which were clearly inspired from his earlier works with Apple. His designs made the user feel unthreatened and could comfortably explore the devices giving a sense of comfort and approachability. With this emotions trigger, the user would naturally engage the device, which boosts the perception of the usability of the device. This is a great example of a designer who pioneered the concept of "Form Follows Emotion". These concepts and designs are also translated into Apples stores as well, displaying a clean, easy to read design, through clean lines and shades of white, displaying the products as clear from visual noise as possible, giving a feeling of openness, and secure environment. Moving on in exploring this idea of feelings translated into spaces, the following case studies would show the potential to translate these concepts into a physical space and form in which can be used and inhabit.

Case Studies

Figure 8 (Refer to reference list for image source)

(Fig.8, shown above) The first out of three case studies will be Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore, It was the winner of the Presidents Design Award 2011 (designsingapore, 2012). The hospital consists of three buildings, which is of subsidized ward tower, private ward tower and medical centre. The site is linked by transitional spaces such as corridors and lobbies. Designed by CPG Consultants Pte Ltd, it was produced with the concept of entering into a Shangri-La instead of a conventional hospital, Indeed the building looks like an interconnected Garden of Eden, It was further, designed with patients and staff's comfort in mind. It, not only successfully introduced Universal Design but also sustainable designs conventions.

The design team collaborated with different government bodies and consultants of various fields. One of the results of this collaboration is the integration of the existing Yishun Park (designandhealth, 2012). This integration of greenery further allowed for the perception that this was not a conventional hospital design, with white dreary spaces.

Amongst key successes of the project was its ability to take the "feelings" and views of a large groups of people, including staff members, patients and, people with varies disabilities and special needs. Through these study groups, small details within the wards such as reduction of "door-closing" noise and location of "support points" for patients without using railings, were considered and included into the final design. The architects made a conscious effort to design the spaces to not look like a typical clinical environment and sought to integrate innovative, eco-friendly features such as façade treatments. These façade treatments were designed with the tropical climate in mind, complete with overhangs, high ceilings and, solar and wind power considerations. The design also called for spaces which generated warm "cuddly" cozy feelings with "high touch" (designandhealth, 2012). This was done by organizing spaces into clusters in which you transition from one cluster to another, and spaces within this clusters or "villagers" had "high touch" or stimulating to the sense of touch through materials or choices of furniture within these clusters. This created a sense of communal living within the spaces. This building is mostly designed on a behavioural as well as visceral level creating a successful series of spaces, in given time it may even generate on a reflective level with its focus on community.

The second case study is Ed Roberts Campus in the, United States of America, designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects. It was, developed by 7 non-profit organizations, that worked with disabled people, with additional funding by government grants, John, (SFGate, 2010). The design of the building attempts to include as many people as possible, Be they wheelchair bound, blind, of old age and even those with epilepsy.

Figure 9 (Refer to

Reference list for source)The design largely taps into the behavioural level. Highly functional spaces which include visual and tactile clues assist the visually-challenged to navigate and demark spaces. The key feature of this building is the red spiral ramp which is suspended from the glass ceiling and greets the visitor as he enters the building (Fig. 9). The designers intended the ramp to serve both function and symbolic purposes, as both the abled and people with special needs (disabled) can access the spaces together. At the ends of corridors, fountains are used as a visual and sound landmark to assist visitors in their orientation. Though the building is highly functional the only space which is visually captivating would be the ramps, and even that could be seen as unappealing depending on the perspective of the observer, but this was admitted by the designers to be not as high a priority compared to the whole, as quoted by William Leddy the designer "The more I did this project, the more I realized that good architecture is a social justice issue." John, (SFGate, 2010)

The third case study would be Orestad College in, Denmark, designed architectural Firm 3XNs. The building was nominated for the Mies Van der Rohe Award 2009. It was designed with the belief that architecture can shape "behavioural patterns", 3XN, (2010, pg28).

They intended to create spaces in which the students as well as teachers "took active responsibility for their own learning process and their collective working environment" (2010, pg28). The building is designed with visual stimulation and observation is a paramount consideration. As you enter the building, it becomes clear that you can view all the different levels and pockets of spaces from the entrance. Everyone else within this space can register your entrance as well. As you enter the wide central staircase, you will feel as quoted by a teacher working at the college, Ida Marie Klawonn "You take your first few steps on the wide, central staircase with a certain veneration - almost as if you're entering a cathedral of learning.", 3XN, (2010, pg37). (Fig. 10 & 11, shown below)

Figure 10 Figure 11

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The building hopes to inculcate in students a love for self-learning, seeking knowledge independently through observation, and cultivating good relationships with the teachers by encouraging as visual interactions. Casual lounges are located intermittently between levels, in which students can gather and directly or indirectly learn from each other. This building uses space to cultivate feelings of inspiration and curiosity through its layout and programs within these spaces. It reaches out to the users of the space viscerally, behavioural and reflectively".

By understanding the thought processes of designers, whether they are architects, product designers or physiologist, we are able to identify patterns which would assist in designing spaces with Universal Design and the inclusion of feelings and emotional security in mind.

Going forward in this essay, we shall explore how these case studies, identified emotions as well as the theories mention above, could be translated into spaces, which would address the question of "should we design for all?" and justify why the propose new principle of Emotional Design should be incorporated into the core principles.

Universal Design can be applied spatially to vast scales; from a small cubicle stall in the public toilet such as handicap friendly grab bars with transitional spaces such as corridors or passageways that link one building to another via ramps, signage or visually impaired floor textures. These are just current conventional Universal Design examples, which risk looking monotonous and similar between one space and the next that share similar functions. Converting these spaces to look more visually distinct and with 'character'; infused with feelings of security, comfort and a sense of discovery are taken into consideration. The following examples of the corridors at a "hospital" and a "child care centre" illustrates how the programme of the space and identified users can vastly influence different characteristics and visual distinction through the Universal Design principle with feelings of security also included.

By allowing natural daylight to shimmer in and providing soft white ambient lighting, a corridor towards a ward in a hospital could offer comfort, secure and safe feelings and become a place for spiritual growth. Instead of a conventional handrail which exudes a cold and clinical feel, hand supports made of oak or similar woods on the walls could be created which allows a natural and comfortable feel. The sound of the space can also help define the function of the room, assisting the visually impaired to orient themselves in the space. The sound of flowing water of a fountain for example, provides a hint of the water feature from afar, only to be realised as the person enters the space. Additionally, a childcare centre corridor could lead to visually distinct spaces; utilising contrasting colours which invokes an uplifting and playful spirit as well as define the spaces of the centre easily. This makes the area more accessible and simpler to understand "spatially" both for children new to the area as well as for parents. This could even extend to the signage within the space, which could show a colour and associated function visually with the name in consideration of a child who cannot read, yet able to learn through observation by the associated image, colour and the spelling of the space.

The two examples of the corridors for the hospital ward and the childcare centres above serve the purpose of getting its intended groups from one space to another using current Universal Design practices , but with applying the new added principle of "feeling secure", a visually distinct space is created.

The following paragraphs will explore the cautions of over-designing in the application of Universal Design principles. The ideals of Universal Design in which to design for comfort, security, ease and accessibility is a positive philosophy and movement for humanity. The theory risks over-designing in our attempt to make it too comfortable and secure for all, thereby possibly we handicapping humanity by making objects and spaces take "too little" effort in its use or navigation, or in some cases, making actions overly complex or negative in the act of attempting to incorporate as many features as possible (North Temple, 2009). Future interpretation example would be the concept illustrated in movie Wall-E by Pixar Animation studios, whereby over-relying on technology or convenience tools make our wants accessible with little or no need of physical effort or even worst to the point where humans may consciously detach from their own bodies and have technology and design assist to their needs (esfmedia, 2009). In doing so, humans lose the ability to effectively walk, communicate face to face and would struggle to rediscover the feeling of touching and communicating through body language (esfmedia, 2009).

In another example, Astronauts have to have routine workouts and use equipment to simulate gravity, as the human body adapts to its environment, for without the stimulation of gravity, the bones become weak and brittle due to not being used. In short, "If you don't use it, you lose it" (NASA, 2009).

We must never forget that we are part of nature, and should always seek to re-establish that connection with nature even whilst modern lifestyles through technology directly or indirectly detaches us from nature (the technological citizen, 2010). Universal Design should seek to assist humanity in re-establishing our links to the natural world whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. Not through hand-holding, but self-empowerment. It should not quickly jump to the conclusion that a ramp at home would help an elderly get from one floor level to another easier, and even easier on a wheelchair being pushed by a helper. Instead, a space should encourage the elderly to utilise ones legs, in doing so in the safety of one's home, strengthens the bones and muscles, reminding the body, that it still has use, though it is not as strong as back in its youth. This helps the individual become more independent rather than have temporary comfort and a faster resulting handicap.


In conclusion, if the Universal Design is applied in such a way that to avoids the pit-falls of over-designing away from the needs of the human body, of its natural and primal requirements in its relation to the natural world. then it would not only enable individuals but more importantly empower them and also address the specific special needs and ensures emotional well-being. With regards to the question of designing for all, space should have a clear target user for design consideration, but in the spirit of Universal Design, it can accommodate more as long it first addresses the core.

Applying the Universal Design principle effectively would result in the elderly being able to live active independent lives for longer, thereby increasing the likely duration in which they can work and contribute to the society both physically and economically. This is possible is the Universal Design principle is made to be more visually distinct as well as able to create positive and recognisable characteristics in space. It would also be helpful if this principle is recognised and identified as a design style rather than mere guidelines at this present moment. The principle could likely also be incorporated and adopted into private residential spaced as well, not merely as an element only but as part of the space itself. This way, these home owners could freely and comfortably invite friends of special needs over to their homes (or even colleagues from the office which would have Universal Design principles within the space too), with ease and security that their homes would be able to accommodate those with special needs.

With the Universal Design Principle in place, a positive outlook for the future is painted. It would encompass an inclusive society, one whereby differences in individuals (especially physical ones) are irrelevant and where there would be an equal treatment of respect and options for self-empowerment and spaces which are simple enough to understand but visually diverse to be engaging. This future space would keep us secured, uplift our spirits and enthral our curiosity with a sense of discovery through the new Universal Design principle of "Feeling Secure" incorporated into spaces and objects. The Universal Design principle would celebrate our diversity and acknowledge our individuality while assisting us in being the best version of ourselves that we can be, of being secure and feeling secure.

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