Selwyn Goldsmith Award

The Civic Trust Awards also delivers an Awards scheme in recognition of architect and founding figure of universal design, Selwyn Goldsmith.

The Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design is sponsored by Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and is delivered in parallel with the Civic Trust Awards application process, all CTA entries are automatically considered for the Selwyn Goldsmith Award. The winner will be selected by a specially convened panel of universal design experts with the announcement made at the Awards Ceremony in March each year.

Mr Goldsmith wrote the groundbreaking manual Designing for the disabled, published in 1963, which became the indispensable access guide for built-environment professionals. Following interviews with wheelchair users for the 1967 edition of the book, Mr Goldsmith designed dropped kerbs which have since become a feature in public-realm environments around the world. The third edition of Designing for the disabled was used to inform the guidance documentation accompanying Part M of the Building Regulations in 1992.

In the 1970s, while working for the Department of the Environment, he produced accessible housing reports which were widely accepted as standards for public sector housing. In the 1980s Mr Goldsmith began surveying toileting provision to find out why women so frequently had to queue for toilets in public places, while men did not. His surveys suggested a great disparity in male and female toileting provision.

Mr Goldsmith’s book Universal design, published in 2000, outlined his shift in thinking from ‘designing for disabled people’ to ‘universal design’, which focuses on making buildings safe and convenient for use by everybody, including disabled people.

Selwyn’s widow, Becky Goldsmith said “having become hemiplegic after polio, Selwyn’s total lack of self-pity, a characteristic that was to endure until his death, meant that he simply adapted to his new circumstances and got on with living. His positive and optimistic approach meant that he maximised the possible and philosophically accepted what was not possible. During his life he experienced severe ambulant and wheelchair-using disability, which lent impartiality towards either set of needs in his design considerations, thus underlining his universality in interpretation of needs. His work was objective and therefore broad in application and ethos of provision for all but the most extremely limited. He would be thrilled by the Award and would hope that it be won on the basis of truly universal application. To quote him, ‘even little boys in loos have their needs’.”

Malcolm Hankey, Civic Trust Awards Managing Director said “Universal design will continue to be a fundamental component of the Civic Trust Awards, however, the Selwyn Goldsmith Award will identify, reward and promote exemplars specific to universal design. It is an honour for us to be able to deliver this scheme as a tribute to Mr Goldsmith, I’m sure it will be very popular and highly contested.”

Selwyn Goldsmith sadly passed away on 3rd April 2011 aged 78. Mr Goldsmith leaves his wife, Becky, sons David and Ben, grandchildren Harry, Eloise and Sammy, brother Roger and sister Jane.


London Legacy Develpment Corporation

Formed in April 2012, the London Legacy Development Corporation’s purpose is to use the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the creation of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to develop a dynamic new heart for east London, creating opportunities for local people and driving innovation and growth in London and the UK.

One of the key policy drivers for LLDC and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is to promote, encourage and deliver accessible places and inclusive environments and the Selwyn Goldsmith Award fully recognises these principles.

David Goldstone, Chief Executive, London Legacy Development Corporation said, ”Supporting this award is important for us as we recognise how vital good design is in creating a place where everybody feels welcome, safe and equal.  We've worked hard to ensure that Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park really is a Park for all. As a previous winner of the award, we are proud to play our part in ensuring that it continues to be prominent and highly contested.”  


Selwyn Goldsmith Award Judging Panel

The seven member panel includes Selwyn’s wife Becky Goldsmith along with leading representatives from a large range of different user representative groups and organisations including the Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE), the National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC), Hearing Link, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), the National Register for Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design has been developed by the Civic Trust Awards and as part of the standard application process, our universal design assessment criteria has been reinforced and all entries (internationally) are judged for the Selwyn Goldsmith Award.

A shortlist of projects are taken forward to the Selwyn Goldsmith judging panel each year, which comprised the following universal design specialists:

  • Simon Turton (Chair)
  • Becky Goldsmith
  • Iain McKinnon
  • Jane Simpson
  • Michelle Horn
  • Rachel Glenny
  • David Dropkin

The judging panel meet in December  to consider all shortlisted projects in detail, with the winner revealed at the Civic Trust Awards Ceremony in March each year.