A case for reconsidering the inclusive urban design debate

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Mainstream theory and practice of inclusive urban design focus predominantly on the free access and use of the built environment. This becomes problematic when set against the homonymous theory which argues for places for all, under what appears to be a holistic, yet vague definition of ‘inclusivity’. Moreover, a design focus on physical accessibility leaves unaddressed questions on users who are to benefit from inclusive design practices, to what extent and how that is to be achieved. The present paper argues that in order to legitimately discuss issues of inclusivity in an urban design context, the discipline needs to consider not only urban design process and outcome, but also mechanisms behind exclusion/ inclusion processes and how these are embedded in everyday urban practices, artefacts and spaces. This can only be attained by re-considering and re-phrasing the very concept of inclusive urban design. Building on a critique of the purpose and the function of the discipline, the paper challenges in-place notions of inclusive urban design and explores its limitations against taken-for-granted notions of everyday urban reality. This is done by drawing on sociological theories of socio-cultural production of space/place and of the body in space, with the aim to outline a more comprehensive and, potentially, more effective understanding of inclusive urban design.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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