Universal design joins the dots for urban design

Aerial view of a city with tall buildings separated by green open space. in urban design.It’s not just the buildings or landscaping that make cities – the spaces in between matter too. These is where the social aspect sits. Blue and green infrastructure and public art are important factors and it’s universal design that joins the dots in urban design.

Landscape architecture, green/blue infrastructure, artistic strategies and universal design work together for attractive and safe public areas. This is the proposition in an article in the latest issue of Urban Planning. The key point of the article is “in-between spaces” and how to transform them.

The article’s theoretical framework settles on the aspect of spaces being divided forming physical and cultural barriers. It’s about the relationship between the elements of the city.

Tools for public space are also discussed, with universal design acting as a tool for merging the city. This is because universal design brings benefits to everyone – social and physical.

The article concludes with case studies and solutions for connecting “social tissue”.  Cities are constantly changing and should planned as such. The role of ‘in-between spaces is an important aspect of well designed public space.

The title of the article is, The Changing Nature of In Between Spaces in the Transformation Process of Cities.  This is an open access article and it can also be found on ResearchGate.

Abstract

In the in‐between spaces of cities, there are many problems of various nature and scale: functional, spatial, economic, environmental, visual, and social. There are also some hidden potentials that can be activated. The aim of the article is to explore the possibilities of solving existing problems and to show the possibilities of using the potentials of in‐between spaces with regard to the changing nature of a city.

The article, of a discursive character, aims to answer the questions of whether connecting a city with public spaces can be a catalyst of changes, and what tools should be used to facilitate the flux of material factors (like goods or natural resources) and immaterial matter (e.g., ideas or cultural patterns).

The new approach is based on the assumption that this would be most effective when using landscape architecture, green/blue infrastructure, artistic strategies, and universal design in public spaces. The expected result of the research is to show the purposefulness and possibilities in creating attractive and safe public areas of in‐between spaces as an on‐going micro‐ or macro‐process of urban change on a wider scale.

It was recognised that integrated actions combining the humanistic, ecological, and technical approaches could bring significant benefits to society, preventing existing problems, not only spatial and visual (changing the city directly), but above all social and environmental, having an impact on the functioning of the city from a much longer perspective.

The results of the research show how the transformation process of public spaces may change the nature of the cities, improve the compactness of existing cities, and increase the quality of life. Selected case studies are presented to show the scale, scope, and benefits of possible actions