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Access Routes

Universal Design Principles

Design and construct all external pedestrian access routes so that they can be used by everyone. Position pathways and other means of access between buildings and facilities in a logical manner, eliminating unnecessary complexity and give consideration to designs that requires low physical effort for all users, including people with mobility impairments. Pathways are to be easily detectable and navigable by all people.

All pathways

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context all pathways should:

  • Be no less than 2.2 metres wide, greater to manage anticipated pedestrian volume, with water shedding managed by path fall rather than crossfall. Any localised width reduction, for example, between bollards or trees, to be no less than 1200mm.
  • Meet the requirement for level changes.
  • Have surfaces that are a stable material, have a resistance to subsidence or lifting, are even and do not create unintended tripping hazards or water pooling.
  • Have adjacent plantings that do not disturb path integrity.
  • Incorporate any breaks in the surface, such as expansion or control joints or gaps between decking boards that are no greater than 8mm, orientated perpendicular to the direction of travel.
  • Have bicycle hoops (and parked bikes), light and signage poles, information signage panels , parking machines, drainage grates and service pits (and lids), bins, drinking fountains, seating located off the accessible path of travel so they do not obstruct the pedestrian route or a building shoreline.
  • Carefully consider placement of obstacles to physical access in particular on the accessible campus route eg bollards and chicanes, poles, artwork.
  • Be constructed with path materials that aid wayfinding and orientation. Avoid the use of contrasting materials (strong patterns or contrasting lines or bands that may be perceived as highlighting a step edge) that may misinform or unintentionally disorientate pedestrians. Use contrasting materials to define path edges and cue to building entrances.
  • Splay corners at junctions of pathways to aid manoeuvring and manage crowd flow.
  • Provide a pause point at least every 60 metres along the accessible campus route.

Be well illuminated (non-glare) for night time navigation and safety with even lighting to avoid contrasting pools of light and darkness.

Level changes

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context all level changes should:

  • Be minimised as far as is feasible retaining pathways with a gradient no steeper than 1:60. Where the topography prevents level paths consider the following least restrictive approaches:
    • A well designed pedestrian ramp with a gradient no steeper than 1:16 purposefully positioned to effectively manage a change in level no greater than 1 metre.
    • Where the topography necessitates management of a change in level of 1 to 2 metres consider two ramps with a gradient no steeper than 1:16 separated by a path of 1:60 gradient furnished with a pause point.
    • Any rise in level over 2 metres will require a suitable lift.
  • Include a stepped alternative at each ramp and lift.
  • Avoid the use of single steps as they can be a tripping hazard even when luminance contrast is provided.

Pedestrian ramp

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context all ramps should:

  • Be designed with shelter and weather protection, where it creates a more circuitous route in excess of that offered by nearby stairs.
  • Never be designed with a long series of ramps to address a significant change in level.
  • Have straight runs that accommodate changes of direction with flat landings. Curved ramps can be challenging to design without a significant cross fall. A curve and a crossfall can be challenging for a wheeled mobility device user to negotiate.
  • Have kerb edges that do not diminish to 0mm at the top, as in descent a wheelchair user may be at risk of riding up onto the kerb edge.
  • Be no less than 1200mm wide.
  • Apply AS1428.2 1992 Clause 8.1 principles for landing provision.
  • Have midway landings (switch back ramps) with sufficient depth to enable wheelchair passing.
  • Where there are two or more consecutive slopes in a ramp, have the same gradient.
  • Where stairs and a ramp have a shared landing, the base of the ramp is not to lead directly onto the top of stairs. This creates a serious hazard for people using a wheeled mobility device.
  • Have a surface colour that contrasts visually to that of the landings.
  • Continue handrails through midway landings.
  • Provide handrails that are constructed of a heat resistant material and colour that is in luminance contrast to any adjacent wall or nearby materials.
  • Be illuminated on the surface, from the sides, to avoid shadow. Light consistently along the ramp length with non-glare illumination.
Hot Tip
  • There is a risk with a ramp designed to the minimum Australian Standards that at construction the resultant slope may be in excess of the allowable maximum gradient of 1:14.
  • Designing a ramp with gradient not in excess of 1:16 builds in tolerance for error and reduces gradient steepness for the end user.
  • At construction ensure water does not pool on landings.


Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context all stairways should:

  • Be co-located as appropriate with either a pedestrian ramp or lift as they provide an efficient and effective means of moving people between levels. Stairways must not be eliminated from a design.
  • Not be the sole means of access between level changes.
  • Be of a width appropriate to the purpose of the environment.
  • Incorporate regular height risers for the whole stairway. Irregular risers present people who are blind, and those who anticipate consistency and predictability with a serious hazard.
  • Meet AS1428.2 1992 Clause 13.2 Figure 8 for stair depth and rise.
  • Have a surface that is non-slip, ensuring that water cannot pool on tread and landing surfaces.
  • When a ramp and stair arrangement is required, have the ramp orientated in the intended direction of travel and set the stairs off or to the side of the path of travel to avoid the risk of someone unintentionally ‘falling down’ the stairway.
  • Be designed with shelter and protection from weather, where it is a long and significant flight.
  • Provide handrails that are constructed of a heat resistant material and colour that is in luminance contrast to any adjacent wall or nearby materials.
  • Be illuminated on the surface, from the sides, to avoid shadow. Light consistently along the stairway length with non-glare illumination.


Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context all lifts should:

  • Be incorporated, where a change in level on a pathway exceeds 2 metres. This significant rise in level must be managed by provision of a lift in lieu of an onerous ramp arrangement.
  • Be of a design suitable for an outdoor environment, in instances where topography results in the change in level being set some distance from nearby buildings and there is no opportunity to co-locate the lift with a building. In this instance the lift and the lift landing must offer shelter and weather protection to the users.
  • Where possible be co-located with a nearby building, ideally with direct or lobby access to the lift, ensuring 24 hour access.
  • Be of a design that is kept unlocked and can be independently operated by the user.

Activity hub

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context all activity hubs should:

  • Be clearly identifiable by artwork, an architectural feature or landmark and accommodate the needs of many people and amenities appropriate to the purpose of the hub. The hub should be spacious to allow wheelchair approach and turning at key amenities
  • Incorporate a variety of seating elements including some that are moveable to allow for flexible use of the space.
  • Be linked to, but set off the accessible campus route with a traversable surface with a crossfall not exceeding 1:40
  • Provide sufficient power outlets to allow for power wheelchair and mobility scooter charging in addition to charging for electronic devices. The power outlet should:
    • Be within reach range and meet AS1428 2009 Clause 14.1.
    • Have an adjacent spacious, level floor space with sufficient dimension to allow power wheelchair and mobility scooter users to park, charge their mobility device and transfer.
  • Include as appropriate a water bottle refill station or drinking fountain, seating, picnic table or bin.
Hot Tip
Shelter supports ideally set into gardens so as not to pose a head height hazard or obstruction to access.

Pause point

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context pause points should:

  • Be provided:
    • At <60 metre intervals along the accessible campus route.
    • At every principal building entrance or location where queuing /waiting may occur.
    • Ideally, at every pedestrian ramp.
    • At campus arrival points where pedestrian drop off and pick up will occur.
    • With adequate lighting for night use.
    • In a location that maximises passive surveillance and safety.
  • Include at least one seating element that is connected to but set back at least 500mm from an accessible path of travel.

Maintenance and product specification

Design Criteria

  • Careful design of planting schemes can enhance wayfinding, however ensure:
    • Plants do not overhang or intrude into pedestrian routes or drop leaves, nuts or branches that may render a path impassable, slippery or unsafe.
    • Weeds and roots are managed so they do not lift pavers creating undulations and trip hazards.
  • Ensure these issues are addressed as part of the ongoing maintenance program at Curtin University.
  • Where an expensive product, or a product that is not locally sourced is used as a surface material, there may be reluctance to repair, given expected cost.

Water bottle refill stations and drinking fountains

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context pause points should:

  • Be located adjacent but not intruding into the accessible path of travel.
  • Be located on a traversable surface with a circulation space that enables all users, including people using wheeled mobility devices, to manoeuvre into a position to operate all functions.
  • Have a light push button or lever control, located on the front or to the side of the fountain to allow one handed operation.
  • Have a finish that achieves 30% luminance contrast between the drinking fountain and the surrounding surfaces against which it is viewed.
  • Have functional components, whether drinking from the fountain or refilling a bottle, that meet the height and depth reach ranges, to be operated by all people from either a standing or seated position.

Picnic tables

Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context picnic tables should:

  • Be specified as either a café or picnic tables that enables wheelchair access.
  • Be orientated so that the accessible section is toward the wheelchair approach, with sufficient space for turning to allow comfortable use of the space.
  • Include a firm, level, 2000mm wide traversable surface around the perimeter of the picnic table as this will provide comfortable and useable access to the table for all people.

Maintenance and product selection

Design Criteria

  • The table is to be fabricated from a non-heat absorbing material and should not necessitate user to negotiate beams or other supports if the table is an ‘all-in-one’ style.
  • Moveable tables and seats allow a flexible arrangement to suit the needs of many activities and events.
  • Ensure tables are returned with the accessible component orientated towards the accessible path of travel and table / seat surfaces and the table underside are kept splinter free.


Design Criteria

Within the Curtin context external seating should:

  • Be provided at every pause point and activity hub. Whilst no one seating style will meet the needs of all people and a range or seating styles is desirable, provide no less than one seating element that has armrests and a backrest and space adjacent for wheelchair seating, no less than 800 x 1300mm in dimension.
  • Be ideally shaded and constructed from a non-heat absorbing material.
  • Be in luminance contrast to the surrounding landscape for ease of visual identification.