As part of Universal Design Module, we where required to re-design selected areas of the Huguenot House, Stephens Green, Dublin into the new Headquarters of a retail company, accessible to all. The retail company I have chosen is H&M.
H & M, Hennes & Mauritz AB, is a Swedish multinational retail-clothing company, known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children. Their vision is to continue expanding, be more environment - friendly, make a good workplace for employees and to offer people trendy clothes for cheap price.
“Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. This is not a special requirement, for the benefit of only a minority of the population. It is a fundamental condition of good design” - universaldesign.ie
Dr. Rosemarie Rossetti, a world-renowned speaker & advocate for people with disabilities said “Universal design is all-inclusive for all people & all concepts” Inclusion happens when there is no trace of special or separate treatment for the disabled.
I have aimed to intergrade Universal design principles, to design the environment, to be accessible and inclusive, so that everyone benefits and is fair to people with varied needs.
The 7 Principles of Universal Design & how they have been applied:
Principle 1: Equitable Use - The design is fair to people with diverse need from the entrance throughout the building – zero step entries, wider doorways and hallways/ walkways, two level reception desk, wider work desks for everyone so that all benefits and there is no differentiation and there is comfortable space around, regardless of stature or mobility.
Principle 2: Flexibility in Use - The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. It provides adaptability to the users pace as extra clearance space has been allocated throughout the interior for people to pass through without disturbing or rushing anyone.
Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use - Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. – The layout is mainly open plan, very easy to understand and the contrast of color and material differentiate different areas. A choice between stairs or lift to access each floor. Also extra safety precautions have been put in place to avoid accidents where there is a lack of concentration. e.g. an iron safety frame around the glass atrium.
Principle 4: Perceptible Information - The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities. - As previously mentioned there is adequate contrast between different areas of use. Also there is lit signage where needs to be e.g. escapes, lobby, bathrooms, doors.
Principle 5: Tolerance for Error - The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. - extra safety precautions have been put in place to avoid accidents where there is a lack of concentration or vision. e.g. an iron safety frame around the glass atrium, clearly defined areas and markings where there is glass so someone does not walk into it.
Principle 6: Low Physical Effort - The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue. Open plan areas to avoid too many doors. Easy to use sliding doors facilitate access to the meeting rooms. A commercial low pile carpet made for high traffic has been chosen to accommodate wheelchair users and lower noise level.
Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use – e.g. a person in a wheelchair would be able to pass around anywhere in the building and the design caters for everyone regardless of stature of mobility. Wider work desks for everyone so that all benefits and there is no differentiation and there is comfortable space around, regardless of stature or mobility.