• Richard Duncan

Napoleon vs Universal Design - Who Wins? (Part 3)

Updated: Jul 7

Was Universal Design Achieved? By Olav Rand Bringa, Senior Adviser in The Norwegian Ministry of Culture

The architecture student Kjersti Kværner Hestetun followed the process of the restoration of the Eidsvoll Manor. Her master thesis investigated if it was possible to fully implement universal design in the redesign of the building. She concluded that the full standards of universal design could not be reached, but that the result was acceptable. One inadequacy, she pointed out, was that the main entrance with the staircase remained inaccessible. It could not be universally designed with access for all without changing the classic facade. While people with disabilities can use the side entrance, which has good accessibility, this separated visitors with certain disabilities from other guests.

In 2015 the project won the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, considered Europe’s most prestigious prize in the heritage field for the conservation of The Manor House in Eidsvoll. (see picture above - Examining the Constitutional Assembly Hall after the Renovation. Photo: Trond Isaksen/Statsbygg)

What Happened to the Constitution?

Norway’s 1814 independence lasted only months. The Swedish king did not accept losing his war booty and after a short war Norway surrendered and entered a union with the neighbouring country in the autumn of 1814. The union lasted to 1905 when Norway once again became a sovereign and independent state.

Still, with some amendments, the Constitution was used during the union with Sweden. With changes in 1905 and modernizations over the years, the constitution of Norway from 1814 is still in effect.


Hestetun, Kjersti Kværner, Universell utforming av Eidsvollsbygningen - lar det seg fullt ut å gjennomfoere? / Inclusive Design of Eidsvollsbygningen – allows it to fully implement? Master thesis. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim 2012.

Risaasen, Geir Thomas. Eidsvollsbygningen. The story room by room. Forlaget Press, Oslo 2016



The Ronald L. Mace Universal Design Institute is a non-profit organization based in North Carolina dedicated to promoting the concept and practice of accessible and universal design. The Institute's work manifests the belief that all new environments and products, to the greatest extent possible, should and can be usable by everyone regardless of age, ability, or circumstance.


The Institute's sister initiative, Better Living Design is changing the way homes and home products are designed, built and remodeled to better meet the needs of everyone at every life stage. 

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