Urban Development and Citizen Participation

From tyranny to capability? Exploring the potential of the capability approach in participatory designed processes

This paper starts with a quote: “The idea of citizen participation is a little like eating spinach: no one is against it in principle because it is good for you” (Arnstein, 1969, p.216) 

“The metaphor points to a superficial cleansing of the conscience, an intervention that does not eradicate the problem altogether, in the way spinach might sporadically be eaten to cleanse the body of an unhealthy lifestyle. It means that participatory processes might be used, because of their ‘goodness,’ in a manipulative way. By proclaiming participation, I legitimise my intervention.”

This paper was published in a special issue of The Capability Approach in Development Planning and Urban Design, published by the University College London.

Download the full document (180 page book) which includes other papers related to this topic.



The codification and regulation of architects’ practices

Kings College logoThis article written by Rob Imrie discusses how rules and regulations pervade and influence, or codify, architects’ practices. 

Abstract: It is commonly assumed that building regulation and control is a technical and value neutral activity, and part of a bureaucratic machine external to the design process. For many architects, building regulations are no more than a set of rules to be adhered to, and are usually seen as ephemeral, even incidental, to the creative process of design. However, the main argument of this paper suggests that the building regulations are entwined with, and are constitutive of, architects’ practices. Far from being an insignificant part of the design process, as some commentators suggest, I develop the argument that the building regulations influence aspects of creative practice and process in architecture and, as such, ought to be given greater attention by scholars of urban design.

A subsequent article by Emma Street discusses the difficulties of terminology surrounding codes and regulations. 

Abstract: As researchers an important part of our role is to engage critically with the terminology and related literature that intersects with our research interests. Whilst I do not wish to claim this paper offers a comprehensive review, it will demonstrate an engagement with the multiple, and frequently contentious debates surrounding the concepts of ‘regulation’ and ‘codification’ that we refer to in the title of our research.  



Costs and Benefits of Building Projects

This is a technical article from Canada with the full title of, “Integrating Building Information Modeling (BIM) with Sustainable Universal Design Strategies to Evaluate the Costs and Benefits of Building Projects”.

Links are made with sustainability and the need to factor in UD at the beginning of the process as with sustainability. For the tech people it gives mathematical computations and diagrams, and for others, there is useful information such as:
“Although, implementing sustainable strategies in buildings (new/existing) showed better economical trend over the long run, its initial associated cost is doubtable. The results of a survey conducted in 2007 by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development found that the costs of sustainable buildings are “overestimated” for an additional cost of 17 percent added to the cost of conventional building which is considered more than triple the actual cost of 5 percent”.

Go to the article by Bader Alsayyar and Ahmad Jrade, University of Ottawa.


Improving designers’ understanding of UD – a research article

A universal design charrette conducted in an educational setting to increase professional sensitivity

This article from Brazil reports on  project to overcome the difficulties of educating designers to include the broader population in all their designs every time, not just in ‘special’ designs or projects.  Go to: Journal of Accessibility and Design for All (CC) JACCES, 2015 – 5(1): 47-76. 

Note: this is a web download and might take some time to complete

Abstract: This paper describes a design Charrette conducted in a graduate course on Universal Design (UD), in which students, here professional architects, developed a design project for a public-service centre. The goal of the Charrette was to understand the effectiveness of this type of teaching method to increase the designers’ sensitivity toward UD issues and gain knowledge on participatory processes. 

Continue reading Improving designers’ understanding of UD – a research article


How Age-Friendly are Kingston’s suburban streets?

A comparative case study analysis of Kingston, Ontario

This is a masters thesis using a comparative case study approach to investigate how two suburban developments in Kingston, Ontario promote mobility for older people by assessing and comparing the age-friendliness of the pedestrian environment and existing public transportation infrastructure and services.

The thesis report references the WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program and Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities.

A report by Jenna Thibault submitted to the School of Urban and Regional Planning in conformity with the program requirements for a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning (M.PL.) School of Urban and Regional Planning Kingston, Ontario


Neighbourhood design and the activities of older home owners

Neighbourhood Design, Judd et alBruce Judd, Diana Olsberg, Joanne Quinn and Oya Demirbilek slideshow presentation outlining their research into the activities of older people. It discusses the types of activities and barriers and facilitators of neighbourhood activity.  Footpaths, or lack of, featured as a key issue. They also cover the other main components of being able to get out and about – public transport, street furniture, wayfinding, public toilets, handrail on stairs, safety and security.

Download the presentation   PDF 4MB


Should public buildings be exclusive?

This journal article comes from Niger.  The pictures of schools show the contrast between expectations of developed and developing countries – worth a look just for that. Also, we can see that UD is truly a world-wide movement.

The article was published in the American Journal of Engineering research. You can download the article here.

ABSTRACT: Some individuals are born with a deformity also known as disability whereas others may become permanently or temporarily disabled over the course of their lives. Buildings should not be made to judge who comes in and goes out of its spaces. A good design must be accessible to all individuals, especially when discussing public buildings. Continue reading Should public buildings be exclusive?