Need for better accessibility on Karl Johans gate (street)


Ingvild Kvalheim and Yngvar Hegrenes


A2. Designing for cities and public arenas

Date and Time

2014-06-16, 14:45 - 15:05


MA 9
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Design Case

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Short oral presentation


In 2005 the Hovedstadsaksjonen (The Capitol Campaign) completed upgrading central parts of Oslo. The project was a collaboration between Oslo municipality, the State and private property owners. To further develop and expand efforts to make the city center more accessible and attractive, a new project was created to continue the The Capitol Campaign work; Levende Oslo.

The Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud has in recent years received several complaints about lack of accessibility to public businesses along Karl Johans gate. Based on this Levende Oslo has been commissioned by the Department of Urban Development, City of Oslo, to establish the project «Tilgjengelighet til publikumsrettede virksomheter i Karl Johans gate» (“Access to public-oriented businesses in Karl Johans gate”).

1. Project phases
The objective of this project was to identify to what extent public-oriented activities with access from Karl Johans gate is accessible for all, and if any conservation concerns in the building are obstacles to facilitate greater accessibility and universal design. The initiative builds on the state’s objective of ensuring equal rights and opportunities to participate in society for all, regardless of their physical abilities.

The project has two phases:
 Phase 1: Registration of accessibility and conservation values, 2012/2013
 Phase 2: Pilot Project, 2013/2014

During the summer of 2012, the public-oriented businesses along Karl Johans gate were thoroughly reviewed partly to identify to what extent the activities are accessible to disabled persons. The accessibility of 75 public-oriented businesses along Karl Johans gate were surveyed. Additionally, the conservation value of the buildings these businesses are located in is considered, in a total of 42 buildings. Most buildings in Karl Johans gate have great conservation value. The purpose of the survey was to see in what extent conservation values could be a hindrance for accessibility to the businesses for all users. As a measure of accessibility Norwegian Standard for universal design of company- and public buildings, NS 11001-1:2009 is used.

2. Registration results
The survey shows that none of the businesses studied fully satisfy all requirements for universal design according to NS 11001 – 1:2009. For some of the businesses there are very few faults to be corrected to achieve good universal design, but several have deficiencies in access routes and entrances which makes access difficult for people with various forms of disabilities.

Identified deficiencies in universal design can be divided into two main groups:
a) Faults related to the physical characteristics of the street / sidewalk and structural adaptations such as stairs, steps and thresholds at the entrance.
b) Deficiencies related to layout, fixture, signs, etc., as well as elevators, toilets, changing rooms and internal stairs etc.

There is no clear indication that conservation interests are direct obstacles to universal design. Most ground floor facades and entrances are not original, but rebuilt and adapted to different situations and varying styles. This means that property owners and businesses in most cases will be able to find new solutions without significantly changing the heritage elements of the facade.

As a first step to increase awareness and knowledge of accessibility and universal design, each and every business included in the survey have received a detailed description of the Norwegian Standards requirements for universal design; Business Specific Report. The description includes an overview of the requirements the business do meet, and which requirements they do not meet. The goal is that this report will be an inspiration and help in their efforts to facilitate greater accessibility and universal design.

The results of the survey show that there is a general need for increased awareness and knowledge of universal design. We created a project team consisting of key government agencies, business agencies and disability organizations to work on the development of good examples of universal design in listed buildings in Karl Johans gate.

The report «Registreringsrapport – Tilgjengelighet til publikumsrettede virksomheter i bevaringsverdige bygninger i Karl Johans gate – Prosjektrapport 2013» (“Registration Report – Availability of public-oriented activities in heritage buildings in Karl Johans gate – Project Report 2013”) summarizes the results of the survey of all the businesses and will be used in the second phase of the project, which consists of developing a collection of model projects for property owners and authorities for their future building modifications.

3. Status
We are now developing a pilot project for the access to 4 selected publicly oriented addresses in Karl Johans gate. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate exemplary solutions to universal design for accesses and entrances where the solutions; model projects, is designed with regard to building conservation values.

The goal of this pilot project is a proposal for a main solution to the access that is universally designed, not a replacement solution or a modification in addition to the main solution. We want a workable, innovative solution where elegant, good design is focused. The solution should be representative for the actual building, taking into account the specific antiquarian challenges and constraints, but also transferable to similar situations, as a pilot project.

The pilot projects will be included in a collection of examples for property owners, businesses, governments and consumer groups. The collection can be managed by the Office of Cultural Heritage, The Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud and the Agency for Planning and Building Services, and should be used as a guide for owners and developers etc.