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Creating Accessible and Inclusive Public Spaces with Street Furniture

Creating Accessible and Inclusive Public Spaces with Street Furniture

 

The hallmark of a well-designed outdoor public space is its useability across different demographics and activities. Through creating accessible public spaces, we are able to foster an inclusive outdoor space and city culture. For older individuals or people with disabilities “public spaces play a central role in the creation of inclusive communities.”

Choosing the right outdoor street furniture is a key decision when designing your outdoor spaces. Outdoor furniture contributes to making urban spaces more sociable, inclusive, safer and helps to boost overall communities. Different outdoor furniture items play different roles within your public spaces. Bench seating for example increases outdoor space functionality creating designated areas for individuals to sit rest and socialise. Here at Felton Industries, we have a range of street furniture that features a modern architectural design and key functionality features, to increase accessibility of your outdoor spaces. Our street furniture range features a range of durable Australian timber, anodised aluminium and accessible wheelchair seating.

Understanding Accessibility and Inclusivity in Public Spaces

Accessibility is defined as the practice of making information, activities and or environments sensible, meaningful and useable for as many people as possible. This differs slightly to inclusivity which is defined as the proactive approach of embracing and valuing diversity, creating an environment where all individuals regardless of their background feel valued, respected and have equal opportunities. Our outdoor public spaces such as libraries, parks and community centres should aim to adopt both accessibility and inclusivity. Through adhering to outlined accessibility standards we can increase physical activity opportunities for individuals across a range of abilities.

Key Elements of Inclusive Street Furniture Design

There are a range of different elements that help contribute to a more inclusive outdoor public space. Some of these features include:

Universal Design Principles: There are 7 key universal design principles that should be adhered to create better and more accessible outdoor public spaces. Examples of these principles include equitable use, flexibility in use and simple and intuitive use.

Material Selection: When designing your outdoor public spaces, it is important also to consider the material of your outdoor furniture, as this plays a key role in longevity and durability of your furniture within outdoor spaces. More durable outdoor furniture materials include Australian Hardwoods for a timber option, and aluminium for a metal outdoor furniture option. These materials are proven to have better resistance to everyday wear and tear and weather protection in harsh climates.

Street Furniture Spacing and Outdoor Space Navigation: It is important to consider the positioning, spacing and navigation impact of your outdoor furniture within your public spaces. Street furniture placement should be located kerbside with a minimum of 500mm from the travel path, and positioned on one side of the accessible path of travel. Any obstructions of pathways should be marked with hazard signage. Within accessible outdoor spaces seating should also be provided at regular intervals in order to provide frequent rest opportunities.

Accessible seating arrangements to promote social interaction: Seating needs to cater for elderly individuals and wheelchair users. For elderly individuals a minimum seat height of 450mm is recommended, however seat height can be adjusted up to 520mm. For areas with younger children seat heights will need to be lower, with a recommended seat height of 350mm. Armrests can also assist elderly or frail individuals getting in and out of seats making them an important inclusion. The inclusion of wheelchair spaces within seating is also important for more inclusive social interaction, with wheelchair seating spaces recommended at the end of a row of regular seats.

Wheelchair- friendly ramps and pathways: Accessible pathways and ramps also expand inclusivity options for wheelchair users. When designing an accessible path, the slope shouldn’t exceed 1:20, with slopes higher than that instead designed as ramps. It is also important that the path’s surface is smooth, continuous, non-slip and even for wheelchair users. The DDA also mandates that public places like government offices, schools, parks and commercial establishments should have accessibility ramps installed. To best accommodate mobility, it is recommended that gradient slope of ramps that are 1900mm should be less than 1:10 of its length; 1.8 for smaller ramps and 1.14 of longer ramps.

Braille Signage: Another key component of enhancing accessibility in outdoor public spaces. Braille is crucial in assisting navigation capability for individuals with vision impairments. Key signs that should include Braille alternatives are parents rooms, toilets, staircases and emergency exits. Braille sign installation is mandated within Australia in public spaces, government buildings, educational institutions and commercial establishments.

Creating outdoor spaces that are accessible and inclusive is a key consideration for designing useable outdoor public spaces. A key component to successful design and creation of these outdoor public spaces is including accessible street furniture. Urban planners, designers, landscapers and architects consider the demographic of those using the outdoor spaces to best accommodate spaces that encourage socialisation and interaction. Here at Felton Industries we understand the importance of creating better public spaces.

Our street and park furniture range showcases an accessible, modular and DDA compliant design utilising durable Australian Hardwoods or a timber grain finish. We also have a range of wheelchair accessible furniture designed to accommodate wheelchair users which utilise a marine-grade anodised aluminium for better seat temperature control and material longevity. Our street furniture range is easy to purchase with purchasing options available on our website. Our expert sales team are also able to answer any questions regarding customisation, tender requirements, and project consultations. Get in touch today on 1800 834 016.

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