A right to urban life: the political and architectural

Street scene of Oslo showing footpath dining and 2 cyclistsThis article reports on a qualitative study by Inger Marie Lid. It is underpinned by a philosophical perspective on the right to urban life and inclusion, weighing up democratic values and practical policy. The study was carried out in Oslo, Norway, and comprised interviews with urban experts. The following paragraph sums it up by arguing that the right to urban life is more than just a place outside of home to visit:

“Access to urban public areas involves both political processes and architectural design. … Lefebvre argues that a right to the city cannot be conceived of as a simple visiting right. It can only be formulated as a transformed and renewed right to urban life, to human life in the urban materiality (Lefebvre, 1996, p. 158). Urban life refers here to social interaction between people in places. This is a normative argument, which holds that the city is a work in which the citizens participate (Mitchell, 2003). Within urban studies, the idea of some kind of a right to the city has been highly influential in both scholarship and activism (Mitchell, 2003; Soja, 2010). However, Susan Schweick (2009) claims that the phrase “right to the city” is seldom elaborated on in a disability perspective, even though individuals and groups experience disability-based exclusion from public urban areas. Disability-based exclusion is the result of both architectural barriers and negative attitudes.”

Disability Studies Quarterly logoThe article, “Implementing universal design in a Norwegian context: Balancing core values and practical priorities” can be downloaded from the Disability Studies Quarterly website