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Pioneering champion of disabled access dies

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Architect Selwyn Goldsmith, author of the groundbreaking Designing for the Disabled (1963) has died, aged 78

An early champion of disabled access and the designer of the ramped kerb, Goldsmith contracted polio shortly after qualifying, leaving him paralysed down one side. In 1967 he produced a second edition of his ‘indispensible’ guidelines, research which involved interviewing 284 wheelchair-users.

The third edition published in 1976 was described in the AJ as ‘a remarkable document and a singular achievement’. Its widely recognised that the substantial improvements in 1992 of the ‘flawed’ Part M of the Building Regulations - originally published five years earlier - owed much to the data in this landmark book.

Goldsmith produced reports for the Department of the Environment which set the standards for disability access in public sector housing during the 1970s. The substantial improvement in 1992 of the ‘flawed’ Part M of the Building Regulations published five years earlier owed much to the data in Goldsmith’s landmark book.

Later, he began to investigate the concept of ‘universal design’, publishing a book by the same name in 2000, in which he set out his belief that designing specifically for the disabled minority was socially exclusive and discriminatory.

Adrian Cave of Adrian Cave Associates, a former chairman of the Centre for Accessible Environments, said: ‘Selwyn’s meticulous work brought precision and authority to the development of criteria for inclusive design.’

‘We met frequently, particularly when we were both on the board of CAE, where he could always be relied upon to come up with challenging observations - he could not hide his glee when these proved to be controversial.’

Former RIBA president Owen Luder added: ‘Selwyn was a pioneer for the needs of disabled people. As I have a temporary disability at present I can assure you that I appreciate personally his work in making it easier for the disabled to get around and participate in as normal life style as possible.’

Recent related articles in the AJ

Access all areas 15 March 2001 by Selwyn Goldsmith (and book review)

Universal Disagreement 10 may 2001

Bog Standard Provision 19 February 2004

Book Review 18 December 1997 by Ruth Slavid


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