First Irish Universal Design Challenge Produces Tangible Ideas to Increase City Centre Accessibility

Posted on: 27 November 2009

Ireland’s first 24-Hour Universal Design Challenge saw five teams of leading international designers work against the clock to produce a design of a newly built environment element, product or service that could improve accessibility for everyone in society.  The event was co-organised by TrinityHaus with the National Disability Authority’s Centre for Excellence in Universal Design as part of IDI Design Week 2009.

The five teams, made up of architects, engineers, urban planners, landscape architects, graphic, web and interaction designers, examined various areas in the city centre with the aim of designing something that would make the route, environment, space or journey more accessible.  With the design guidelines in mind, teams developed their ideas which included a navigation system for the visually impaired; a logo based signpost system to inform wheelchair users about accessibility; a bike pod that allows easy access to the city for those who have mobility problems and spring action illumination plates that can assist in activating pedestrian lights, wheelchair ramps or hailing a bus.  A key element of the challenge saw designers work with people who have accessibility issues, informing the teams of user issues and thereby encouraging direct user-designer interaction.

Professor Mark Dyer, Director of TrinityHaus commented: “The design challenge presents an opportunity for designers to apply the principles of universal design to the planning, construction and retrofitting of a real city that meets the needs of its citizens.”  Councillor Emer Costello, Lord Mayor of Dublin added: “Designers need to be increasingly conscious that they accommodate people of all ages, abilities and circumstances in their designs.  The 24 Hour Universal Design Challenge is worth profiling as an example of what can be achieved when designers from diverse background and disciplines, work with people with a challenging range of needs, to improve the experience of everyone.”

TrinityHaus is a research centre for innovation in construction, energy and design. It houses a number of projects, including GREENprint, i-School and the McNamara Centre for Construction Innovation.  TrinityHaus is a multidisciplinary venture; encompassing engineering, the sciences and arts, and carries out high quality industrially relevant research that underpins innovation in the energy demand management for low carbon living, people-centred design and sustainable construction.