84 What Is Multi-Generational Design?

What Is Universal Design?

Universal design encompasses and addresses the needs and abilities of people of all ages. Sometimes referred to as "multi-generational design”, it combines safety and comfort with style and beauty to create an end product that is attractive, versatile and practical. Universal Design principles are especially applicable in the bathroom, a space that even the most able-bodied person can find difficult to navigate at times. By giving careful consideration to space planning, accessibility, security and privacy issues, smart designers can create a bathroom environment that promotes independent living for every member of the household.


Multi-generational, or universal design is intended to benefit everyone, including the elderly or physically challenged. A universally designed bathroom strives to be accessible and comfortable over an extended period of time for all members of the household. Within the environment of the bathroom, aspects influenced and impacted by this design approach include:

  • Floor space maximized for safe navigation.
  • Tubs and showers designed, positioned and installed for easy and safe entrance and exit.
  • Sinks designed and installed for easy access.
  • Floor and tub/shower surfaces that are anti-slip.
  • Easily accessible resting places.
  • Conveniently and strategically located grab bars for safety and security.

While there are many practical considerations that play an important role in the universal design process, such as safety, space, comfort and ease of use, being "sensible"doesn’t mean that the bathroom has to look utilitarian. Quite to the contrary. Universal design is good design.

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