Busy areas should have clearly identifiable quiet zones and use sound-absorbing materials and insulation. Sensory pods with specialist features take this a step further.
Planting, wildlife, and water can calm spaces – as do natural form and elements such as stone, wood, and textiles. Natural light supported by indirect, consistent, dimmable lights along with matt, neutral and consistent finishes creates a welcoming environment.
A logical design using zones to support easy, clear wayfinding makes spaces easier to navigate for everyone – especially if simple and consistent symbols and pictures are used for signs and design features. Information should be available in more than one format (such as written and visual) and be available for planning ahead. This should include simple information about social rules and expectations in the space.
One-way traffic and pedestrian flows make getting around easier, with separation between people and vehicles keeping everyone safe. Uncluttered, wider walkways with fewer level changes improve accessibility all round. And shorter distances to walk and regular places to sit down in a variety of styles help people who have varying mobility maintain their independence.
Reduce incorporation of decision junctures that may promote impulsive decision-making or risk-taking, avoid exits that lead straight onto a busy crossing, or guide pedestrians into a one-way flow without adequate signage, and time to choose whether this is the correct route. Features like CCTV and lighting make spaces safer and help to reassure people – as does installing refuge areas and the means to access help or support.