Centre for Excellence in Universal Design – Built Environment
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Centre for Excellence in Universal Design – Built Environment

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design is
part of the National Disability Authority which is based in Dublin, Ireland. The three areas the Centre covers
are standards, education and awareness. The Centre was set up under legislation in 2007.
Its key aims is, how do we create societies, our communities, that they’re fully accessible,
understandable and easy to use by all citizens. So the idea of Universal Design, especially in the built environment, is
to make our experiences as easy and understandable as possible. It should be just a normal process to use, access and use a
building. So, Universal Design provides information how to give way-finding signage, how to find the main entrance,
how to access the spaces that you’re in. We would introduce universal design
in any project. So, we would also do domestic work, from adaptations to very, very large
new housing and most clients come to you and they’re just thinking about today, but to successfully
design, you need to think about the long term, because in five years time, that’s going to
have changed. They now have teenagers, or children that are in college or
working but still living at home. Then, they’re getting older, they might become less able,
less mobile or all of these things. So, you need to start to think about the long term
in any housing design, or in any domestic work. What I find CEUD exceptional for, is that grey area around interpretation,
So, they go beyond the idea of rules and books for, guiding people through life. They interpret specific contexts
and respond with specific, bespoke tailored solutions. A lot of the work that we do in the Centre
is the development of design guidance. How do you get designers and built
environment professionals to change? And from that we develop workshops
where we invite along the end users such as, people from professional built environment
bodies and people from our stakeholder groups. You could have a landscape architect talking with an engineer,
talking with someone who may be a wheelchair user, talking to someone whose
child may have autism. I think Building for Everyone, the box of
books that the Centre for Universal Design released, is excellent and it should be in
every architectural office. Universal design, as a concept when it was
developed, the concept was primarily applicable to the construction and
primarily, houses or buildings and making them suitable for everybody. I think it
has spread out from that and that’s been very welcome. Literally somebody in City Architects, can
pick up the phone to somebody in the Centre and have a chat about an issue.
They’ll give us an honest response and it helps us make our projects better. If
we’re not designing our buildings and places for everybody, who are we designing them
for? We’re designing them for nobody.

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