Urban life: the political and the architectural

Street scene of Oslo showing footpath dining and 2 cyclistsHow do you draw together the right to an urban life with practical policies? It’s a case of weighing up democratic values and architectural design. Urban life is more than just a place outside of home to visit. It’s also about being visible in public places – a concept much valued by people with disability. The underpinning value is social justice. Universal design is both a concept about inclusion as well as design initiatives. Finding the balance between them is the key.

A  study carried out in Oslo, Norway sought the views of urban experts. They included local government representatives, disability rights organisations and property owners. To sum up, public places can protect equality and dignity if all stakeholders share the same knowledge and understanding.  Once again, we see that inclusion requires knowledge sharing across disciplines. 

The article is titled, “Implementing universal design in a Norwegian context: Balancing core values and practical priorities“.

Excerpt from abstract:  How can urban planning processes include perspectives from people with disabilities? This paper discusses the implementation of universal design and accessibility in a local urban context. Universal design consists of both core values, such as inclusion and equal status, and specific design initiatives, such as design of pavement surfaces and benches. The aim of implementing universal designing strategies is to achieve equal access for all citizens. Based on an empirical study of an urban redesign project, I argue that equal access must imply both access to public places and to political processes.


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