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Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space (see population dynamics). It encompasses the study of the size, structure and distribution of these populations, and spatial and/or temporal changes in them in response to birth, migration, aging and death. [1]

Demography for Architecture

Demography is important to Architecture, because architects must design for the future. Over the next 40 years, the population's age structure will transition rapidly, and a majority of the population will be in their 50's or older. Buildings must become flexible, not only for use of the elderly, but including children who must be able to use the same spaces as they get older. There have been guidelines created for this, called Universal Design.

Understanding Universal Design

Universal design refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to both people with and without disabilities. The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University expounds the following principles:

  + Equitable use
  + Flexibility in use
  + Simple and intuitive
  + Perceptible information
  + Tolerance for error
  + Low physical effort
  + Size and space for approach and use

These principles are broader than those of accessible and barrier-free design. They can be used just as easy for a child as then can an elder.

Using Universal Design

There are many guidelines to follow when using Universal Design. The list below shows an overview.

Smooth, ground level, entrances without stairs
Surface textures that required low force to traverse on level, less than 5 pounds force per 120 pounds rolling force
Surface that are stable, firm and with slip resistant per ASTM 2047
Wide interior doors, hallways, and alcoves with 60in x 60in turning space at doors and deadends
Functional clearances to approach and use elements and components
Lever handles for opening doors rather than twisting knobs
Single hand operation with closed fist for operable components including fire alarm pull stations
Components that do not require tight grasping pinching or twisting of the wrist
Components that require less than 5 pounds of force to operate
Light switches with large flat panels rather than small toggle switches
Buttons and other controls that can be distinguished by touch
Bright and appropriate lighting, particularly task lighting
Auditory output redundant with information on visual displays
Visual output redundant with information in auditory output
Contrast controls on visual output
Use of meaningful icons with text labels
Clear lines of sight to reduce dependence on sound
Volume controls on auditory output
Speed controls on auditory output
Choice of language on speech output
Ramp access in swimming pools
Closed captioning on television networks
Signs with light on dark visual contrast
Web pages that provide alternative text to describe images
Instruction that presents material both orally and visually
Labels on equipment control buttons that is large print
A museum that allows visitors to chose to listen to or read descriptions


Design For All

Another form of Universal Design in Europe is EIDD. EIDD - Design for All Europe is the joint European platform for social planners, architects, designers and others who believe in the potentials of their professions to play a vital role in the necessary transformation of our societies into more cohesive, innovative and sustainable ones. Design for All, that is design for human diversity and social inclusion, represents a good deal for businesses and for the society as a whole, and a professional challenge for decision-makers, planners, architects and designers. [3]


[1] Demography

[2] Universal Design

[3] Design For All