Inclusive design aims to produce environments that are accessible and usable by everyone, whatever their ability, age, culture, faith, gender, family or economic status. Designing in this way is both principled and efficient, minimising the need for subsequent changes to accommodate the needs of future generations of users.  

Designing for accessibility and inclusion is inherently human-centred and future focused. From wayfinding to lighting, layout to operations, policy and guidance to application in the built environment, we take time to consider the needs of today’s users and also how those needs might evolve over the lifetime of a building or space. Our services span the entire project lifecycle from accessibility design reviews and audits, through EDI assessments and accessibility guideline development. We also offer design training, to help the next generation adopt inclusion and accessibility across their work. 

Inclusive design helps developers, investors and building owners to gain confidence that their properties and other assets are not only commercially successful, but meet their legal, social and moral obligations. By considering inclusive design early on, and again throughout the development process, these obligations can be addressed and help future proof spaces to reduce the need for retrofit or redesign later.  

Our commitment to inclusive design extends to research to drive innovation and influence industry and policy changes. We collaborate with academic and industry partners to expand evidence based data and drive solutions rooted in lived experience and engagement with communities.  

Our process 

Inclusive design should be considered at every stage of the project lifecycle. The earlier this can be embedded into the design process, the stronger the solution will be, avoiding expensive late-stage alterations, and lowering the ongoing cost of management and maintenance. 

We begin with research and consultation, forming user groups to explore the asset’s true purpose and needs, and providing an evidence base of lived experiences to inform the project. Next, we identify the right interventions to maximise the inclusive design opportunities in a project, and understand the wider impacts on the local environment and community. This approach is holistic, collaborating and aligning with other subject matter experts, and thinking about the interfaces between built space, digital, management and operations, in both the permanent and temporary states.  

Our inclusive design services are comprehensive, helping clients to: 

Audit existing buildings 

Existing buildings, particularly older ones, understandably reflect the practices of the era they were designed in. With the increasing demand to extend the lifespan of old buildings, and reuse or refurbish existing spaces, there’s a growing need to understand what level of adaptation can take place, within the constraints of an existing structure or asset. 

To better meet the needs of today’s users, an inclusion and accessibility audit can help. These audits determine the level of compliance achieved against local building standards, and to identify the opportunities to maximise inclusion within refurbishment or improvement works. It helps clients to identify priorities for asset management, inform design briefs for projects, and identify where management and operational strategies may be required for current users.  

Design reviews and appraisals 

We identify barriers to accessibility and inclusion and work with the project team to find inclusive solutions and opportunities. We do this across sectors, including public / external realm, built spaces, detailed residential layout reviews, and others.  

Solutions can range from identification of spatial requirements for circulating around a space; specification of finishes and materials, signage and wayfinding, and fit-out to facilitate navigation and choice in use; and discussions with facility management teams to coordinate the operations of the space to be inclusive in policy and operation.  

Inclusive design
How can we ensure we design for everyone so that no one gets left out? Our inclusive design experts explain how we consider different people’s needs by showing how we might design a journey from home to the cinema.

Documentation, compliance and reporting  

Inclusive design is a specialist area, so we often help clients to develop access and inclusion design statements, inclusion strategies, compliance reports, operational handover reports, and other supporting documentation.  

Our work documents the access and inclusion strategy for a project, for use in the building approval process. This will be used by the client, land or building owner, enabling future facility and asset management, and provide vital guidance to the design team throughout the project. This detailed record of the inclusive design features, facilities and associated policies will also be valuable for communicating with end users, tenants, operators, and other stakeholders upon project completion. We also shape guidelines, standards, plans and policy for client organisations who want to embed inclusion and accessibility throughout their estates and operations in an ongoing way.  

Equality, diversity impact assessments 

Identify impacts of policy, plans, strategies and design proposals on different user groups, especially for people from marginalised communities. Our impact assessments would identify the context, emerging trends, and assess the impact on different user groups, to inform decision making for the project.  

The purpose of this is make sure that decisions within the project are informed and considered; that there is accountability for the design decisions; that there is buy-in from the end users and communities we are designing for.  

Inclusive design training 

We work with design professionals, academia, industry and collaborators to provide tailored training to raise awareness of inclusive design. Our team has created training programmes for organisations as part of their equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) activity, and as part of project/client training requirements. We have also been collaborating with academia to inform the content of courses, embedding inclusion into the training of the next generation of built environment professionals.