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Design for Everyone Guide

A practical resource to assist the planning, design and development of inclusive sport and recreation facilities.

Welcome to the Design For Everyone: A Guide To Sport And Recreation Settings.

The concept of Universal Design is to simplify life for everyone by making the built environment more usable to as many users as possible.

It is separate from accessible design as Universal Design is based on the equitable use of a facility and social inclusion and not the measurement of accessible design features and meeting minimum legislative requirements.

Applied holistically to a building without an alternative for different groups, Universal Design addresses issues of having a different approach for different users, which not only improves and simplifies the way a facility is used but also eliminates user segregation to maximise participation by users of all abilities.


An Introduction to Universal Design – video transcript

[State Government of Victoria logo]

[Peter Maddison, Maddison Architects, walking in front of the national tennis centre]

Peter: No two people are the same. Whether we’re short, tall, young or old, we’ll all encounter barriers at some point in our lives.

[Shot of people filmed from the waist-down walking down stairs]

You might tear a ligament playing sport…

[Shot of someone walking with a walking stick]

Or find yourself on crutches…

[Shot of an older man reading on a bench]

Or your eyesight may diminish as the years go by…

[Shot of woman lifting a pram up a step]

If you’re pushing a pram and can’t get up the stairs…

Or travelling in a foreign country, unable to read the signs.

[Peter walks towards the camera]

These are some of the barriers we could all face to change the way we interact with our surroundings.

[Shots of Melbourne landmarks including Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, State Library of Victoria and Southbank as Peter speaks]

In the past, most of our public buildings and spaces have catered for some of the population most of the time. You’ll often hear us architects speak about form and function. But is that function for everyone?

Over the past decade, the push for more environmentally sustainable buildings has changed the way we think and design.

But now there’s a new frontier. A frontier that will allow all of us to access our buildings, services and experiences all of the time.

Design that’s universal in its approach – actually, it’s Universal Design.

[Sporting images, including people playing tennis and basketball, set to instrumental music over a background of a building plan]

[Title card: Universal Design]

The new state basketball centre is proudly waving the universal design flag and architect David Newstead is an even prouder bearer.

David Newstead, Director Mantric Architecture: I’d describe it as a holistic approach to the human experience of a building.

[Shot of David and Peter walking into the basketball centre captioned with “INCLUDED: user centred approach”]

It’s a conversation with all the parties, from the management groups to the stakeholders, patrons, spectators, the people who clean the building. It’s got to be on the radar and talked about at each phase. It comes down to the conversation – it’s not a complex thing.

Wayne Bird, Manager Facilities and Government Relations, Basketball Victoria: It’s not about separating or trying to identify differently. It’s certainly about making it very much for the total community.

The principles that are applied as part of Universal Design, we will look to translate those into all future developments now.

[Shot of young people playing basketball on an indoor court, captioned “ACTIVE: flexible circulation space”]

Because, if we do that, there’s going to be a consistency –

[Shot of basketball court, captioned: FAIR: equitable use for all]

– and eventually it will be accepted that the important things like comfort of the customer are being addressed and catered for.

Dr Ian Bell, Director of Engineering and Infrastructure, Knox City Council: Good design doesn’t cost the earth. What does cost is when you go through a design process, have a set view in mind and then have to actually come back and retrofit that at the very end. You get the design right right from the beginning, you get everyone thinking the same way are so important in terms of selecting your architect, selecting your landscape architect –

[Shot of glass door entrance to a basketball court, captioned “SMART: Multiple entry and exit points“]

– that they are thinking about this stuff –

[Shot of accessible bathroom, captioned “INDEPENDENT: independent change spaces”]

– that they are aware of the greater principles that need to be applied and then working through that process.

This is now an iconic facility which the local community are proud of and they’ve embraced.

Peter; Across the city, Melbourne Park is a thought-provoking contrast of Universal Design. Stadiums designed in the 1980s sit next to the new national tennis centre, a shining beacon of Universal Design fundamentals.

[Shot of children running drills on tennis courts, captioned “COMFORTABLE: Flexible spectator seating”]

It is a beautiful and practical building and already Brian Morris firmly believes a little extra thought during the design process can drastically improve the functionality of a public building.

Brian Morris, Chief Executive Officer, Melbourne and Olympic Parks: We have a broad spectrum of people, a broad range of ages and needs and what’s important is that they can find their way around, they can get to their seats, they can find the place intuitively on their own and without people going out of their way to make them feel at home.

Melbourne and Olympic Parks has always been a world leader in venue design. We’ve got a unique opportunity here, because we’re going through a major redevelopment, to install the latest thoughts about Universal Design and equity for all people who come to our precinct.

Peter [walking down a set of relatively steep stairs]: 30 years ago, this was a state of the art facility that ticked all the boxes regarding accessibility. But have a look at the gradient of these stairs and the way the crowds are funnelled into this narrow entrance.

We really have come a long way, but every good cause needs great leaders. I was happy to discover just how passionately our public officials feel about Universal Design. These are people who can really make a change – and Jill Garner wants to be a game changer.

Jill Garner, Associate Victorian Government Architect: I’d like to see a whole lot of really exciting and different examples of places that people go, “Hey, hang on, this is an amazing way of approaching Universal Design”. A whole lot of designers need to tackle it in an innovative way and a way that everyone says, “Yes, this is good” or “This is successful” or “This is meeting all of those principles” that we’re hoping to break down those barriers. Once we’ve got a few examples. I think then it broadens the field.

Peter: Universal Design is much more than just a new design trend. Rather, it’s an approach to designing that can be applied to any design style or building  type.

[Shot of families walking along the palm tree-lined public space in front of the national tennis centre, captioned “SAFE: Shared public gathering spaces”]

It’s a design process that starts with consideration of the user. Universal design can be undertaken by any designer, not just a specialist. It makes our buildings more inclusive and benefits us all.

[Instrumental music swells as Peter reaches his conclusion]

Universal Design is a concept that makes our lives easier and more enjoyable. But it just amazes me that it’s taken so long for Universal Design to be universally accepted.

[Title card: Universal Design]

[State Government of Victoria logo]

[Authorised by the Victorian Government. 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. Spoken by P Maddison]

Page last updated: 28 May 2024
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