SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, November 18, 2020 — The Seoul Metropolitan Government expands its “Universal Design” concept that has been built over the last decade. Universal Design aims to realize the design welfare where citizens can safely and conveniently use products, facilities, and services without being discriminated against age, gender, disability, and nationality.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has established the “Comprehensive Plan of Universal Design (2020~2024)” and will implement it step by step. So far, Universal Design had been separately applied to individual projects. From now on, the design application will be expanded into the administration and society levels. As such, the city government will implement relevant measures from a comprehensive perspective.
Under the vision of “People-first City with Everyone Respected,” the Comprehensive Plan includes (1) making it mandatory to apply the Universal Design to the public sector, (2) installing and operating the dedicated organization for the Universal Design, (3) developing and accumulating the successful model, and (4) expanding the Universal Design into the society and reforming the system.
First, Seoul will make it mandatory to apply the Universal Design to all public buildings from 2021. Since 2017, the city government had recommended complying with the Comprehensive Guideline of Universal Design as a public design guideline. The new guideline will be applied to all the public buildings which receive the city government’s grants, such as the government offices, libraries, parks, and subway stations. For this, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will revise the “Basic Ordinance on Universal Design City Project” by the end of this year.
The “Integrated Construction Task Force” will be created to ensure consistency and efficiency in applying the guideline. Under the task force team, design policy teams, public construction teams, deliberation departments of the construction committee, and public building project teams collaborate. Before making it mandatory to apply Universal Design, Seoul will provide focused consultancy services for many citizens’ cultural and welfare facilities.
Meanwhile, the guideline will be developed in more detail. A new task force will be set up at the end of this year. In the task force team, all relevant departments work together to update the guideline, which can fit the specific circumstances. In addition to the existing detailed guidelines for welfare facilities, which are already categorized by facility type, new guidelines will be developed every year for cultural, pedestrian, transportation and education facilities as well.
Second, the Seoul Universal Design Center will be launched. The Center will serve its role as a think tank of the Universal Design policy. Its main responsibilities include ▴research and implementation of Universal Design policy, ▴consulting and monitoring of the public sector’s on Universal Design, ▴development of certificate index of Universal Design, and ▴development and operation of educational contents for citizens.
Third, Seoul will promote the Universal Design policy aligned with the city planning, urban regeneration, transportation, pedestrian facility, and park construction, to ensure that the Universal Design can spread in daily spaces. The city government will install the “UD Lifestyle Platform” in Dongdaemun Design Plaza. In this space, citizens can enjoy the first-hand experience of the Universal Design via products, users’ movement and spaces.
Fourth, Seoul will test-run the “Seoul Universal Design Certification System” from 2022, which can cover everyone regardless of gender, age, nationality, and disability. To nurture the specialists, the city government will also collaborate with universities and research centers to create a new curriculum and provide group trainings for specialists.
Currently, the Universal Design has been implemented based on the ordinance. in order to establish the Universal Design system nationwide in the integrated manner, the city government will closely cooperate with the central government and the National Assembly.
Yoo Yeon-sik, the Deputy Mayor for Culture at the Seoul Metropolitan Government, said, “In the past, the public design pursued decorating the city considering aesthetic, functional and reasonable aspects. In the post-COVID-19 era, we need to promote the design which can carefully look after all the citizens and embrace them so that nobody would not be isolated regardless of disability, gender and age in the city environment.”
He added, “Seoul’s Comprehensive Plan would provide fair participation and enjoyment. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has come up with systematic tools and removed the silo culture among departments to ensure that the Universal Design can be efficiently connected and realized at the overall administrative level. Seoul will seamlessly keep promoting the Comprehensive Plan and consistently develop the plan by listening to users’ voice and reflecting their requests.”