I am very glad to share the experiences from our Norwegian project the National Development Project for Universal Design in Counties and Municipalities with you.
My name is Einar Lund, senior adviser in the Department of Planning in the Norvegian ministry with the resposibility for the planning and building policy and legislation in Norway.
I am working with policy, strategies and actions connected to the national policy for universal design.
In my paper and in this presentation I will deal with the headline «Universal design as a strategy for local and regional authorities», the connections to the project «National development project for universal design» and in general, to the Norvegian policy for universal design and the Norwegian government `s «Action plan for universal design and increased accessibility 2009- 2013».
The project was a central measure in the Government `s action plan for universal design and increased accessibility, 2009- 2013.The aim was to realize the national policy for universal design as a strategy for promoting an inclusive society. The project was organized as a network- project led by the Ministry; with local foundation in the municipalities, user – focus in all stages, and sharing of best- practice among the participating municipalities and counties.
I will not focus specially on the consept and stategy of universal design, as I in this audience, regard as well known topics.
The central reports concerning to our work, are available as copies at the conference. Please take some with you if you are interested.
Slide 2 Norwegian policy for universal design – I
– an approach for planning and design of products and environment
– inclusive society
– participation for all
Universal design was introduced as a planning concept in Norway in 1997, and has since become widely recognised and applied in Norwegian political documents, laws and technical guidelines.
Universal design have more and more replaced accessibility for disabilty persons – which had been a part of technical regulations and guides according to the planning and building act back to 1975.
To day we use universal design as definition of strategy and as a concept for the wide scope of solutons for persons with decreased operability, while accessibilty is connectet to specfied technical measures.
Universal design for us is a strategic approach for planning and design of products and environment in a way that promotes an inclusive society. It is also a strategy for full equality and participation for all, and we regard it as relevant for all areas of society.
Universal design promote diversity. It enables detailed specifications of qualities in products and environments so that they may be accessible to all on equal terms.
We worked out a definition and clarified some aspects of universal design in 2007. It established a common basis for application of the strategy in public documents.
(The report T-1468 Universal design – clarification of the consept. The Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, 2007)
The definition is very much similar with the content in the UN Convention on the Rights for the disabled (UN 2006). They were embodied in the Norwegian policy first in 2009 and ratified by our parliament in 2013.
Slide 3 National policy for universal design – II
– Better and more equally accessible surroundings for all
Our new right-wing government from 2013 has assured in the government platform that the work with universal design will continue.
The politics of universal design express a value put on equality by society that is positive for all citizens. It contributes to social and economic sustainability and is therefore part of the national sustainability strategy.
It is an important principle in the government’s strategy that the primary solution for all new procurements, buildings and facilities intended for the general public is to be universally designed.
Regional and municipal master plans are also to be based on the principles of universal design. This is assured through legislation and guidelines and the efficient follow-up of these.
Key legislations :
– The Planning and Building Act
– The Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act
The relevant legislative acts that enforce universal design are the Anti- Discrimination and Accessibility Act and the Planning and Building Act, both in 2009.
The main purpose of the first one, is to strengthen the legal protection of disabled person from discrimination and to hinder discrimination resulting from poor accessibility.
The principle of Universal design are incorporated into the purpose and a number of provisions of the Planning and Building Act.
This act will contribute to increase the number of universal designed buildings for workplaces and public buildings, houses, facilities and outdoor areas.
Slide 5 New strong efforts 2009 – 2013
– Norway universally designed by 2025
– The Norwegian government `s action plan for universal design and increased accessibility 2009- 2013
The action plan should support the implementation of the Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act and the Planning and Building Act, trough cross-sectional and sectional measures.
The sector responsibility principle is a necessary and fundamental strategy for achieving the main goals of the policy concerning people with disabilities.
But – in an evaluaton of the action plan we could read this in January 2013 as a comment to practising the sector responsibility principels:
“Without political vision on this field, we cannot observe a natural process within the society contributing to universal design. For
this reason, we consider an action plan to be necessary in achieving political goals.”
(Oslo Economics , in report number 2013- 4 , evaluated the action plan in January 2013)
Many of the measures in the action plan is fulfilled by 2013. A new action plan is expected to be presented by the now-a-days sitting Solberg government soon – we hope among these days and before the summer 2014.
Slide 6 The action plan for Universal design and increased accessibility 2009 – 13
– Coordinated by the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social inclusion.
– Nearly all ministries are involved.
– Includes nearly 200 steps on cross-sector areas.
The action plan is sector overarching and the responsibility for co- ordination lies with the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social inclusion.
The action plan for the period 2009-2013 included nearly 200 steps on cross-sector important areas for participation in society and personal development. The action plan gave overall guidelines on the given steps and measures. Few specific activities within the measure was given, and consequently the sector – responsible part of a measure had the liberty to design the activities.
The action plan focus on four areas of commitment with specified goals and measures. These are building and construction, outdoor areas and regional and municipal planning, transportation and ICT.
Specially, municipalities have planning and out-door areas central as their duties. Two important goals in the action plan concerning planning and out-door areas
• all municipals centres in Norway are to be universally designed
• all municipals centers are to have outdoor areas for general use that are universally designed
Slide 7 National development project for universal desig in counties and municipalities
• Developing the quality and potential of the municipality center
• Diversity of activities within the project
• Conducted by the Ministry of the Environment 2009- 2013
The Project «National development project for universal design» was conducted by the Department of Planning – at that time in the Ministry of the Environment and is one of the central steps/measures in the action plan.
The project started in 2009 with 13 municipalities (of 424 ) and eight (of 19) counties. In autumn 2013, 88 municipalities and 17 counties had participated in the project.
The project’s aim was to contribute to the realization of the action plan, among others within the areas of increased competence, integration of universal design in the formulation of goals and strategies at the regional/county level and emphasise cross-sector areas such as outdoor life, transportation and local development.
The purpose of the project was to develop universal design as a strategy in local authority and regional planning and administration. The measure included that local authorities can act as a resource, as pilot county councils and new pilot local authorities.
Municipalities and counties formulated a joint national project description containing primary goals in co- operation with the ministry. Within the framework of the primary goals, the municipalities and counties formulated their own project plans. They also made commitments to produce documentation and convey the results and the processes behind the results.
The participating counties and municipalities employed the Plan and Building Act as a tool to put the strategy of universal design into effect in addition to other actions permitted by their authority.
The strategy was included at all stages in the planning processes: Master plan, societal plan, area usage, zone plan, architecture, and more.
Participating municipalities and counties introduced and investigated universal design as a strategy at the municipal and county level to promote improved solutions at these areas.
Universal design is based on
– Cross- disciplinary planning
– Attention to aesthetics perspectives
– User involvement
– Contribution in democratic decision-making
Universal design is not a simple standard that can be achieved in all circumstances. The strategy requires interdisciplinary co-operation, good inclusion processes, dialogue with users and the will and ability to invent new solutions.
None can claim ownership over knowledge of universal design alone.
The work is cross-sectorial in nature and also includes co-operation across administrative levels such as public health, transportation , education, cultural heritage etc.
The merit of universal design solutions is to be assessed in an overall context. The universal design shall be incorporated as an integral part of cohesive design activity.
Universal design is concerned with the daily lives of human beings, which means that those who are affected must be included in the processes.
Early involvement from councils for people with disabilities, user organisations and senior- and youth councils contribute to the quality of the end result.
After four years of investigating end sharing of experience we all – both ministry and municipalities and counties – have learned something about:
• Inclusive processes
• The user in focus at all stages
• Inspire by examples
• Contribution to national politics
Our experience are presented in this report from October 2013, and are important contributions to push the work with universal design up to the national level.
Experience is accumulated through projects that deal with inclusion processes, innovative solutions and the journey from plan to finished product. They emphasize that universal design:
– demands coherent planning, cooperation and dialogue
– with users
– with sector disciplines and professions
– provides challenging opportunities to create good pilot-projects.
– contributes to inclusion and to bring people together
– is necessary for some and good for all
– contributes to increased quality
One of the county majors said – as an example of this – in a speech on one of our conferences in June 2013:
Better functionality is of benefit to all, not only to persons with disabilities. Social inclusion and belonging earns respect and prevent stigmatisation. We still have a long way to go before we are where we want to be, but trough clear legislation the framework has become plain. We must not believe that things happen by themselves however.
Systematic reporting of achievements in the project has shown to instil a sense of commitment to the project and should be considered a success in the transfer of experience for the development project. The reporting can be improved by setting clear goals ties to tasks within the project.
The municipalities Porsgrunn, Kristiansand and Stavanger has participated in the project and chosen different ways of implementing universal design.
One condition for success is that universal design is politically and administratively anchored in overarching plans. In the planning processes one must keep a consistent perspective on the theme and it must be followed up all the way to the final result.
One good strategy is to start with actions that give visible results. By transferring experience from one project through another through good internal procedures, the municipalities and counties achieve a continual increased of competence in the area.
(The project was evaluated by Oslo economics in January 2013 :
The report concluded that The effects of the measures will apply in the long run, and it is too early to determine these effects today.
Successful results is achieved when design of measures have taken place in broad processes . We also find that a broad process in designing measures seems to ensure that the target group’s needs are being met, as well as contribute positively to the marketing of the measure
In our opinion, broad processes for design of measures have led to a more complete design. In a complete design, the target group should be consulted. In general, we find that measures which are implemented and designed according in line with the action plan have a high quality.
In the view of the coordinator, the project has been organized counties’ terms. That the counties have partially been allowed/tasked with drafting the content on events and conventions have been especially emphasized as positive in the interviews. )
Identity and participation
Porsgrunn is a county borough located in the south of Telemark County and has 35,000 inhabitants. A well known feature of Porsgrunn is the River Porsgrunn, which winds through the town dividing east from west.
Porsgrunn municipality’s goal is to create attractive physical surroundings with long-lasting qualities in which environmentally friendly solutions, innovative architecture and universal design play an important role.
The city-renewal project Nordentorget was completed in the spring of 2010. Universal design was integrated in both the planning process, project and construction. The city square has a solid, smooth surface with step-less access to stores and restaurant. The seats have suitable height and the square has natural guiding lines to aid the visually impaired.
A group of creative youths has given new life to old benches in Porsgrunn as seen here at Østre Brygge/Wharf (through) a project centering on reuse, city development, hiking trails, universal design and social meeting places. The project was carried out in cooperation with the city’s schools. The benches invites people to sit down and spend some time by the river. For some, the option to sit down and rest on the way can be a decisive motivational factor to go outside and meet others. The keywords for the students were therefore robustness, user-friendliness, accessibility, local identity and environment. This way, the students also learned about city and local development.
Universal design is not seen, it is felt. The photo shows “Rådhusplassen” – amphitheater in front of the Town hall. The amphitheater is used to out-door concert, and is a popular public place.
We can see Integrated ramp-access in the amphitheater
Marking of steps.
Warning-zone at the top and bottom of ramps and stairs decorated by an illustration of the plant “Pors”.
The same decoration is found on the Town Hall. In addition to serve as a warning-zone and tactile decoration, it point out Porsgrunn`s identity as a shipping-city. The seeds of the plant Pors came from ports far away by the way of ships, and also gave the city its name.
Induction loop (for the hearing impaired)
Guiding lines in the Main street
Universal design is integrated in the city plan
Porsgrunn municipality has focused heavily on universal design over the past 15 years, and has integrated universal design requirements into its plans from a general level all the way down to the detailed planning work
The map shows:
Comprehensive system for guiding lines (natural and artificial)
Clear markings on open spaces
Free space in walking areas/ Unobstructed walking area
The streets divided into zones with separated furnishing
Reinforced sidewalks with avenues of trees and illumination
Improve(d) information and signboards
Tangen , Kristiansand
Kristiansand is the centre of Norway’s southern region and has just over 80,000 inhabitants.
Kristiansand municipality started its universal design work in the early 1970s, when the first adaptation measures were implemented in the outdoor areas close to the city. The municipality cooperates well with the Council for People with Disabilities. Each sector is responsible for universal design in its area. Universal design is an integral part of the municipality’s management tools – in the municipal master plan, zoning plans and local norms and standards.
The city centre has been well arranged for easy access and is to the benefit of all who travel here.
Tangen is an area located centrally in the town, with the river Otra to the east and the sea to the south and west.
The Zone area consist of total 130.000 m2 BRA:
70.000 m2 square meters houses, dwellings
40.000 m2 business and industry
Public green areas
Public transportation areas
Universal design has from the beginning been a central perspective in the planning process.
The construction of the public infra structure started in 2007, and was ready in 2011. The public area with the park and the city beach has been in common use since 2011, and is popular amongst the citizens and in 2013 The City Beach nearby the swimming pool and hotel vas rebuilt.
With the new promenade, the beach is easily accessible. New, long stairs are built down to the sea together with a universally designed access-ramp. In the transition between promenade and ramp, stones will be used as notice that can be felt as well as seen.
Tangen, the new city district in Kristiansand. The research project “Economic effects of universal design” (2007) carried out by the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research ,NIBR and Byggforsk show that the added costs of universal design to new apartments are small, while the construction of such residential areas has a net positive economic effect.
The out- door areas are without steps. Double guiding lines mark the walking-zone on the largest open square. Guiding lines are of great help to the visually impaired.
• Universal design is the primary principle in the design manual
• User focus and cooperation with the Council for People with Disabilities
The Kristiansand municipality has invited scholars and professions in several disciplines to participate in the development of a new residential district – the district of the future.
Wheelchair users tested a number of solutions. One goal among others was to achieve optimal use of materials, for example in guiding lines for the visually impaired.
Pleasing esthetic solutions
Coherent plant for the areas as a whole
Tools for every developer to adapt their projects to the public space
Inclusion of universal design in the details is of critical importance for the end result
Solutions within every area of planning should be developed in a way that accommodate all users. The municipality of Kristiansand and the construction industry have been well prepared for the new technical regulation and demands in the Planning and Building Act because of the work that have been done and the focus that has been on universal design in the past several years.
The details of the plans has been prepared in close cooperation with the Council for People with Disabilities. The Council has also hosted seminars for the project team, and has been sent out in the city armed/equipped with wheelchairs and canes for the visually impaired.
Universal design and sustainable development
Stavanger has got a step further in implementation the strategy by preparing a municipal sub-plan of universal design .
Stavanger is a city west in Norway, 130 000 inhabitants. Stavanger is the most densely populated municipality in Norway.
Stavanger will with the municipal sub-plan of universal design
work to achieve a universally designed and inclusive society, and expects that the project will give positive results in terms of both economics and wellbeing. This because the society at large becomes more accommodating so that citizens can master their own situation and participate actively in their society.
Strategies or steps that are expected to have negative samfunnsøkonomiske consequences should not be carried out.
(Universal design is a tool for inclusion. The tools enables inclusion of all citizens and gives them the opportunity to participate in society at their own terms by adapting the environment to the user’s needs. Implementing universal design must concern itself as much with the inhabitance of the municipality as with buildings, the public spaces and IT solutions.)
The objective of the plan is
– to secure a purposeful and binding process
– that will make Stavanger accessible for all
The main emphasis of the strategies is to achieve the goal of A good city to live in.
Urban and city Concentration with quality.
User friendliness is an important criterion for urban development and concentration. Universal design is also an important quality criterion for concentration of the city’s populace. Quality in this regard is about meeting expectations, and that means that the resulting population concentration must be in accordance with the needs of the users.
Stavanger shall through systematic action, with the … for universal design as instrument, carry out a gradual and comprehensive accommodation of the city’s public space and functions. In addition, the municipality shall ensure that a significantly larger portion of newly constructed dwellings are universally designed and accessible (as defined in technical regulation TEK 10)
The plan will be binding for all areas for which the municipality carries the responsibility, and action plans shall be prepared. The plan will also serve as the basis for increased awareness campaigns. Stavanger is the first municipality to make a … for universal design with the 2009 revision of the planning and construction act as a starting point.
(The planning work builds on the resolution of the Stavanger city council from 18th January of 2007: “A …. For universal design shall be prepared in accordance with the specifications given in the case?. The plan shall ensure a goal-oriented, binding and anchored action-plan to make Stavanger accessible to all.” Stavanger is the first municipality to make a … for universal design with the 2009 revision of the planning and construction act as a starting point. )
The Action plan for universal design in downtown Stavanger has increased accessibility for all users, with emphasis on the visually and physically impaired, as its goal. The action plan focuses on physical steps in the road network so that the principles for universal design are clarified. Many streets and squares will now and in the near future be dug up in connection with replacement of pipelines. This work will have a great impact on the city center for much time to come. In the action plan projected roads have been recommended built as universally design on the background of among other things ascension rates, and costs have been calculated).
By acknowledging that people live longer, that there will be more of us and that we are an increasingly compound/complex population, we can prepare and prevent unfavorable social developments. It is important that we prepare our society for these changes in a way that also leaves us with resources that can be directed to the other tasks we must do. Universal design is an important part of these preparations.
Stavanger takes an humorous approach!
Thank you for your attention!