Norway’s utopian vision at the London Design Biennale

at Somerset House

On 7–27 September, Somerset House is host to the inaugural London Design Biennale, where more than 30 countries present their creative visions for building a better a future. Responding the event’s theme ’Utopia by design’, the Norwegian contribution makes the case for inclusive design as a strategy for developing the world’s cities.


‘Reaching for Utopia – Inclusive Design in Practice’ uses three projects built in accordance with the principles of inclusive design to demonstrate the benefits that this way of thinking about design can bring to society.

The primary tenet of inclusive design thinking is keeping the end user at the forefront of the process at every stage. By addressing the needs of individuals across the full spectrum of ability, age, gender and culture, inclusive design can lead to innovative, versatile and people-friendly design solutions, and can be applied to the development of any mass-produced product, building, transport system, environment or service.

Norway has been engaged in a number of highly successful inclusive-design initiatives in recent years, three of which will be explored in the exhibition. The Bergen Light Rail is one of the most effective urban-planning projects initiated in Norway since World War II. It is also the first public transport system that employs inclusive designs at all levels. The result? It has made the city more accessible for everyone, and the passage numbers have grown rapidly since its introduction in 2010.

The other projects are Bergen University College, which was designed with the aim of making higher education available to all, and St Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim, which has received international acclaim and won several awards for its innovative, people-centred architecture – including the Innovation Award for Universal Design 2014.

Norway’s exhibition presents these initiatives as benchmarks in inclusive-design practice, in the hope that architects, urban planners, designers and governments will recognise the methodology’s potential for revolutionising the way we build our cities. Taken together, the three projects make a compelling argument for inclusive design as one of the important design movements of the 21st century – not only within Norway, but worldwide.

The Norwegian contribution is hosted and curated by the ‘Innovation for All’ programme at the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture (DOGA).

Tickets and information can be found at the Biennale’s home page.

Top photo: Bergen University College, taken by Pål Hoff.


Somerset House, London



7-27 September 2016

Norwegian Art

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