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Determining the practicality of universal design of streetscapes as an approach to achieving accessibility in the built environment : case study of Chatsworth town centre, eThekwini.

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Universal Design (UD) is an all-encompassing method to designing for the broader population and is rapidly gaining popularity amongst design practitioners and planners globally. The framework outlined in the Universal Design approach can accommodate everyone at any stage in their life by providing convenience and accessibility. The thesis adopts a human right based approach to design which it tried to investigate how Universal Design can ensure social inclusion and participation by informing the design of products, systems, services, as well as the built environments to accommodate all users whilst still respecting their diversity. The research employs qualitative mixed methods approach including a survey of 160 individuals around the Chatsworth Town Centre and interviews with key informants (professional designers and local government officials). A key question was how the design and planning of universal design can be retrofitted within Chatsworth town centre and whether universal design could directly influence an increase or decrease in accessibility. This study found out that residents did have issues with accessibility. Inaccessibility was associated with areas that exhibited poor planning and design. In addition, barriers in the environment were concentrated around these areas. An analysis of the specific planning and design problems within the Chatsworth town centre indicate that modifying the environment using various design measures will reduce inaccessibility. Residents' responses regarding the use of the various universal design elements to address barriers in the built environment was positive. A key issue is that besides architects, planners are also central to implementing the universal design elements, since it incorporates both planning and design.


Masters of Art in Town and Regional Planning. University of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban, 2017.