Inclusive Cities: Safety and access audits go hand in hand

Street scene in Leichhardt, Sydney

The way we design the environment affects the way we behave in it. Winston Churchill is well known for his quote, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”. This is why designing universally is so important. Designers of the built environment are now expected to design for accessibility, safety, and reductions in criminal behaviour among other factors. A study carried out in Dehli, India analysed both access checklists and safety of women checklists and found a lot of commonality.

They found that  90% of the safety audit parameters covered accessibility issues as well. in the context of designing safer and smarter cities, the authors conclude; “The study is an eye opener, which shows that “inclusiveness” and “safety” have so much commonality that a new set of parameters can be developed that can over-encompass the dual needs and help us strive for a “Smarter city” to live in.” Proponents of universal design would say that this is universal design thinking, because it is inclusive thinking. If thinking inclusively, then safety of everyone as well as removal of architectural barriers will be considered in the design process and throughout the project.

The authors are, Parama Mitra and Suchandra Bardhan in, Proceedings of International Conference Green Urbanism GU 2016.