The U in Universal Design

Universal Design is a great concept. The one day Universal Design Symposium to be held on 26 October in Auckland is an opportunity to hear from a wide range of speakers about this topic. The keynote speaker, Valerie Fletcher from the Institute for Human Centered Design in Boston, will also be presenting at a 5pm event entitled “Designing with people in mind”. Lifemark™ will be presenting at the symposium, and also recently presented at the Universal Design Conference in Sydney. The more conversations, discussion and chatter in this area, the better.

It seems ironic that there is growing awareness about the value of Universal Design as a professional development topic, yet our academic and teaching institutions seem to ignore the subject matter. For example, an architectural degree will cover the topics of heat, light and sound and their relationship with human comfort, but it won’t incorporate the spatial needs of different people, or how as our bodies change and we age, we require different solutions for comfort and safety.

Lifemark™ provides support for two interior design courses who deliver modules on Universal Design. The Ara Institute of Canterbury and UCOL in Palmerston North both deliver excellent interior design courses and practically equip their students with real life learning, which is why the Lifemark™ Standards are taught. Unfortunately, these modules are not delivered by other institutions.

To effect change it is important that people are fully informed. Students have a thirst for knowledge, and architecture and design students are part of a wider mix that can change the way we live. The concept of Universal Design is reasonably new. Those who teach now may not have had the subject taught to them, but isn’t that what change and innovation is about?

Why do what’s easy when you can do what’s right? Today’s students should get more from their advisers and trainers and incorporating Universal Design into more taught courses is a positive way to change our futures for the better.

As always please feel free to contact me on as we turn houses into homes for everyone.

Geoff Penrose
General Manager


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