Universal design

What is universal design?

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 specialised design. 

There are 7 principles of universal designUniversal design in housing results in homes that are usable by and marketable to almost everyone.

Here are some universal design guidelines for housing. They are useful for ethical designers interested in housing that meets the needs of all people in most life circumstances.

All have failed to significantly increase the supply of accessible housing, but have been useful in preparing the housing industry for inevitable regulation.

Livable housing design guidelinesNational

In 2010, the Livable Housing Design (LHD) Guidelines were developed by the National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design in a consensus agreement by industry, community and human rights organisations. The LHD Guidelines have three levels: platinum, gold and silver. They have since been revised and are now in their fourth edition (2017).

Landcom universal housing design guidelines – NSW

These guidelines were developed in 2008 for NSW Government’s Landcom. Landcom aimed to encourage a universal design approach to new housing. Considered by many to be excellent, these guidelines have since been removed from the Landcom website.

Apartment design guide – NSW

This Apartment Design Guide is a resource to improve the planning and design of residential apartment development in NSW. Released in 2015, it updates and replaces the Residential Flat Design Code introduced in 2002. The Apartment Design Guide is to be used in conjunction with State Environmental Planning Policy No 65 – Design Quality of Residential Apartment Development (SEPP 65). 

Smart and sustainable housing design objectives – QLD

The Queensland Government’s Smart and Sustainable housing design objectives (2008) brings together universal design with economic and environmental sustainability.  Considered world class, these guidelines meet residents’ needs in Queensland’s 4 climate zones.

Liveable homes manual – WA

The Western Australian Government supports a Liveable Homes website with a Liveable Homes manual. Yet another guideline developed to encourage a uiversal design approach to housing, it adds little to the guidelines above.

Better apartments design standards – VIC

These guidelines were developed in 2016 and include requirements for access to 50% of dwellings. The guidelines apply to all apartment developments in Victoria. 

Universal housing design criteria – SA

This South Australian Housing Trust guide provides for both visitability, and adaptability at the time of construction. This guideline sets out the design criteria in detail and has considered and incorporated a number of housing design approaches. The criteria was valid until December 2018. 

See examples of universal design in housing here

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