SMG Universal Design

The 2019 Universal Design International Seminar has obtained written consent from the speaker to publish the summarized and edited content

SPEAKER: Sookhee Park (Korea, SMG)

Until now, the public sector has prioritized efficiency enhancement through ‘standards’ in terms of service provision. Today, we are rapidly moving from mass production from the perspective of suppliers to the era of small batch production from the perspective of consumers.

Because it is a smart era armed with various information and technologies, the standard framework alone cannot satisfy the diverse needs of citizens or lead to an affluent life. At this point, we need to think about who public design is for.

WHO; Who is Universal Design for?

Citizens who do not have disabilities and are still young do not feel the need to be specially considered by someone in their daily life. However, according to statistical data, the rate of congenital disability is only 5%, and temporary or situational disability that can be experienced in daily life accounts for a much larger proportion than permanent disability. Therefore, when we consider universal design in the public domain, we need to approach it from the perspective of various lives and situations, rather than looking only at people with disabilities. The diversity of physical conditions such as height, strength, dexterity, balance, attention, etc., the difference in language ability based on language and expressive power, the difference in sensory ability such as hearing, sight, and touch, and the difference in cognitive ability such as comprehension and intellectual ability that should be considered

HOW; How should universal design evolve?

How should design be developed for citizens in such diverse situations, and how can they engage and understand diverse citizens? The Seoul Metropolitan Government uses an analysis method called shadowing to silently follow the citizens or conduct observational investigations by listening to the needs of actual subjects through several stages of interviews. When implementing the universal design project, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, together with a team of stakeholders, defines the problem, conducts investigation and analysis, and derives the best solution through multiple diffusion and convergence processes in the process of deriving ideas.


Since 2010, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has established the universal design guidelines, enacted basic ordinances, and established an evaluation system. By establishing a basic plan, the foundation for implementation was established, and the spread of universal design was induced by promoting projects that apply actual design, such as universal design consulting. Universal design education is being conducted for elementary school students and public officials to raise awareness, and the opening of the Universal Design Center and the installation of the Universal Design Living Lab are also planned for next year. Through this, we plan to expand the application of universal design by region and type of public building in the future, and we plan to select 10 leading universal design projects and carry out pilot projects such as Universal Village and Universal School. In particular, it will contribute to revitalizing the industry through the certification system for universal design products for the universal design industry.

WHERE ; Where is universal design applied?


Areas where the Seoul Metropolitan Government conducted preliminary consulting on universal design are distributed throughout Seoul. Consulting started with welfare facilities and is currently expanding to large-scale cultural facilities and public spaces. In the case of pilot projects, it is planned to expand to industrial complexes and residential complexes so that it can be linked with large-scale urban regeneration projects in the future. In the case of public space, In order to create a universal design testbed at the regional level, in 2018, we plan to focus on old industrial complexes, old residential areas, and old commercial areas in stages. For example, in the case of an unmanaged and abandoned public lot, there are plans to make it an open public space for the comfort of various citizens, or to improve the facility so that it can be used smoothly on the subway, the main means of commuting, without chaos or obstacles. 

WHAT ; What outcomes are implementing the values ​​of universal design?

- Universal consulting project in Seoul

I would like to introduce an example of the implementation of universal design values ​​in Seoul.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government participated from the design stage of public buildings, and in the case of cultural welfare facilities, it recommended that colors be easily applied to the perception of color-blind people. A canopy at the entrance of a building was proposed to increase awareness and to be used to avoid rain. Guidance signs or guide sign guides for parking lots were presented, and information on emergency evacuation in public spaces and securing rest areas was also presented.

The children's reading room of the Geumcheon-gu Children's Library is an example of a solution prepared by observing the children who visit to secure a space where children can read books comfortably. When children read a book, most of them sit at a desk and read a book, but there were children who wanted to read a book with their friends lying down or lying down. A reading space was created in consideration of the needs of these diverse users.



Geumcheon-gu Children's Library Reading Room

The case of the Seongsan 2-dong Community Service Center had a problem in that there was not enough waiting space for citizens to visit the community center. In order to solve the situation in which users have to stand and wait in the remaining space, facilities that occupy more space than necessary, such as health facilities and writing desks with low usage rates in the community center, were removed to create a comfortable waiting space. Writing desks, which were located in the center and obstructed movement, were also moved to the wall so that wheelchairs and strollers could move without hindrance.



2-dong Community Center waiting area

Public health centers are frequently visited by people who are physically or emotionally vulnerable. In the case of the Seongdong-gu Public Health Center, the road in front of the public health center was used as a mixed-use road, so it was a dangerous space for users. A crosswalk with speed bumps was installed to slow the vehicle speed, and a color pattern was applied to the intersection so that drivers and pedestrians would pay attention to each other as they passed. In the public health center parking lot, a priority parking area for the handicapped in addition to the parking area for the disabled was installed in consideration of the elderly 65 years of age or older or visitors visiting for infant vaccination, and a pedestrian path was installed so that they could move safely after parking. In addition, the elevator button guide sign in the building has different colors for each floor to help intuitive understanding.


Improvement of the mixed-use road in front of the Seongdong-gu Public Health Center



Seongdong-gu Public Health Center Parking Area Priority Parking Area for Pedestrians

- Universal Public Projects in Seoul

The following is an example of the spread of the universal perspective to the industry. The mirror seat, which has been applied in many areas recently, is a product designed to check the rear of pedestrians who are anxious whether someone is following them from behind during the day or at night. Since it was introduced in Seoul in 2012, it has spread nationwide and is widely used. The application of these products can be effective only when applied to appropriate situations in consideration of spatial and regional characteristics rather than simple duplication.

In areas underdeveloped due to redevelopment, it is difficult to determine their current location or address, so LED number indicator lights were installed. Lighting is also a common lighting now, but it was originally a part of the sign system that was first installed to guide the way to the street in the traditional market. In the case of the address marking system, when residents are confused because they do not know the address well in a multi-generational area, the lot number is displayed at a high position above the building so that the address or current location can be easily recognized. It was attached to light up the dark alleyways and create an environment for citizens to return home safely.



In addition to physical facilities, there are cases of development of clothing reform guides for people with cognitive issues and care facilities for the elderly in apartment houses. In the case of the handicapped with cognitive issues, there were not enough age-suitable items, so children's items were often used for teenagers. In addition, for rental apartments where the many elderly reside, mailboxes with different colors for each floor were produced and installed to help users easily recognize them, and facilities were installed everywhere to help the elderly walk or get up from sitting. Stands were installed in various places to store sticks that are used in everyday use.


WHY ; Why do we need universal design?

The Seoul Metropolitan Government hopes that individual customized design can become standard of universal design once again and in that way, it can satisfy more citizens. I hope that public initiatives can lead the more advanced design industry in the private sector. I think Seoul's numerous design attempts through trial and error and concerns will provide welfare to the society, improve the quality of life of citizens, and ultimately, I think it can increase the city’s competitiveness 

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