Making our city more accessible to everybody, everywhere, at any time

April 28, 2015

Design for Auckland

In can happen in an instant: The long weekend skiing on Ruapeahu turns into several months hobbling on crutches, leg in a moonboot.   In that split second the way you move through the city and its buildings, and the places you can get to, have changed.

For many, this is a temporary change that we muddle through. We attempt to adapt our routines as best we can, knowing it will soon be over. For others, these challenges are permanent and are major barriers to living a ‘normal’ life. Either way, we all will experience stages of our lives that create challenges for moving through Auckland’s streets, parks and buildings.

For some it may be the challenges of parenthood and pushing a stroller across town, or finding the way to the lift in an unfamiliar building as our eyesight starts to fail. It could even be squeezing into the pokey toilets in the local DIY store, not made for the more portly male frame!

Such inconveniences are increasingly common in an ageing population, and become even more significant when you happen to live within a volcanic landscape such as Auckland’s.  In recent years such challenges have led many designers to start to consider how to design our city to support everybody’s needs.

push chair

Accessing buildings with a pushchair’s can be a challenge for parents.


elderly man resting in otahuhu

Universal design is about designing for all stages of life and physical capabilities.


The new Universal Design Hub  being developed for the Auckland Design Manual aims to do just that. It’s about supporting designers to make everything in our city become more accessible to everybody, everywhere, every time.

This innovative new section will provide a host of new resources to allow designers to embed universal design into their own design approach quickly and easily.  “Nobody sets out to make their project inaccessible but what the Universal Design hub will do is to provide information and tools to help designers appreciate how their work affects everybody at each stage of their lives” says Richard Cullingworth, who is an advocate for Universal Design.

universal design 2



To support these ambitions, the Auckland Design Office has brought together a forum of organisations interested in accessibility, as well as New Zealand’s design and planning organisations. If you would like to find out more information on the Auckland Universal Design Forum, or become involved in developing this area of the Manual please get in touch:

Check out these related links on universal design:

Universal Design

Meet the Normals – Adventures in Universal Design


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