24 Hour Universal Design Challenge 2010

The brief

Take a journey with your design partner in the Grafton Street area.

  • Create a universal design intervention or set of interventions with the surrounding environment with advisement from your design partner to improve its overall inclusivity in visual, spatial, mobility, service or communication terms so that the Grafton Street area can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size and ability or disability.
  • Your design idea can address a single scenario or span a range of them.
  • Your design should be innovative, technically feasible and have a realistic chance of implementation within future plans for the area.

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Judge's Choice Award

Grafton Street service plus

Grafton Street


Team A’s Design Partner was Anne-Marie, a mother with rheumatoid arthritis. Since her thirties she has experienced severe pain, high levels of fatigue and limitations in her movement due to her condition and subsequently has had to leave her job.

Although medication has controlled her symptoms somewhat, she continues to suffer in silence. This is especially apparent and is exacerbated by busy urban environments, and lack of general awareness to this invisible condition.

Anne-Marie wants to maintain her independence, however she is very aware of her limitations and can feel very self-conscious asking for help or performing tasks that draw attention to her disability. This detracts from her day-to-day life, however if an empathetic helping hand were available, it would give her confidence and help alleviate a lot of her daily anxieties.

Universal Design issue

To design a system, service or product that can tailor and enhance customer service in shops and businesses to the needs of persons with specific disabilities in a discreet and sensitive manner.

The proposal


The proposed service operates using an RFID (radio frequency identification) enabled card. On entering a premises, a discreet scanning process allows participating businesses to access relevant details of a person’s disability to facilitate a premium customer service response tailored to the disability needs of the customer, if requested.

With approval from the GP or relevant authorities, the user applies for a Grafton St. Service Plus (GSSP) card through an online/telephone registration service. This data is stored on the card and scanned by participating businesses displaying the GSSP logo. When a person carrying the card enters the premises, the system prompts staff via a pager system, with advice on how to tailor their customer service to the specific needs of the disability in question.

Through this service, the customer receives a higher level of personal service in a manner that is both discreet and empathetic to their disability, without causing embarrassment or stigma.

In the case of a person suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, staff through their training and intuitive prompts would recognise that the customer, may for example, require that packaging for food and beverage products are prepared for easy manipulation, and to place change directly into their hand so as to avoid potential difficulties in removing money from a counter.

This customer service is equitable and can be extended and designed for all disabilities as appropriate.

Participating stores would have to comply with an independent quality control and audit system, as certified by the various disability bodies.
A map of participating premises could be made available in hard copy or to download as a PDF or mobile App.


For the Customer: The proposal provides a technology enabled premium customer service for persons suffering from disabilities in a discreet, sensitive and empathetic manner.

For the Shop: It builds a new loyal customer base and reinforces the business image as a socially responsible brand generating future revenue.

For the city: It would be intended that this service would make the Greater Grafton St. area synonymous with premium customer service for persons with / without disabilities.

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People's Choice Award

SOLAS System of ObeLisks for Accessible Streetscapes


In the Grafton Street area, the citiscape can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming. Unfortunately, access to information and services is limited. For a person with any form of reduced ability, this can make access to all that is offered nearly impossible. The SOLAS project creates a network of aesthetically pleasing structures within the highly dense urban zone which not only combine necessary human services but also re-design these services to be accessible to the largest possible audience. To implement this concept a number of different design approaches have been employed, at different scales. The proposal utilises visual markers, in the form of "obelisks", which function firstly at the level of the streetscape, defining principal and secondary entry -points to the Grafton Street area. Their forms draw on existing landmarks in the cityscape, and serve also to create a set of spatial reference points. In the detail of their design, they provide a range of accessible services, including a re-modelled inclusive ATM, information portals, accessible toilet facilities and combined seating area. The portals also provide a simple, multiuser navigational facility. Though each of these features has its own novel and unique design features, the sum of their parts make this project not only inclusive, but a social landmark and integrated feature of the city's landscape.

Solad Plan

The essential features of SOLAS maximise inclusivity by rethinking design in response to unmet needs identified throughout a exploratory consultation process. Firstly, in response to the lack of an accessible way of obtaining cash, the ATM has been re-designed to allow for people of all abilities to interact with the cash function interfaces with greater privacy and functionality by including a tilting screen mechanism and inclusive multimodal interface The simple modification of allowing card, cash and receipt to function from the same slot was found to significantly increase the amount of people who can use the machine.

Second, in response to the need for easy access to information, SOLAS also includes communication portals designed using the same inclusive features as the ATM, and allowing a large number of functions. These include an interface providing information (including accessibility) about shops and local services, such as bus and train timetables, in an inclusive fashion. The portal has also been designed to interface directly with the local business community including the use of a novel barcode way-finding system that can appear in business cards, magazine ads, and, of course, the SOLAS itself.

Finally, the obelisk houses an integrated toilet facility, designed to be enclosed esthetically and unobtrusively within the structure. A larger -size unisex universal access layout uses a wc with electronically height-adjustable seat position.

The larger obelisks are positioned in a concentric seating area, which fixes them in the streetscape and allows shoppers, workers and visitors to rest, meet and interact. Five SOLAS obelisks, three larger, and two smaller, (providing information only) are proposed for the Grafton Street urban area. SOLAS thus achieves a unified cohesive design opening up the Dublin city centre for all.

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The video

Coming soon, but 'til then check out last years video

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