Inclusive Urban Design

In this introduction video, MaartenJan Hoekstra and Maurice Harteveld introduce the issue of urban design and inequality on the neighborhood level and its public spaces. They look at the theory behind the question “does the increase of social mobility and mixing housing add to the inclusivity on the level of the neighborhood?”

“Theoretically, new connections and mixing enable people to have access to places with better work opportunities, better schools, and better living quality. Yet in practice, we often see things go in the other direction. For the neighborhood scale, this means that people with more means flock to the newly accessible and affordable areas. Thanks to their influx, the character of the neighborhood changes, and the house prices increase. This is what urban designers call gentrification. Socially, it has negative consequences. The original residents may want to move because it is not their neighborhood anymore. They may even need to move because living expenses rise and low-income locals will be pushed away. The challenge for urban design is to support the improvement of the neighborhood and its public spaces for all people. In the spirit of the United Nations  Sustainable Development Goals ‘Leaving no one, and no place behind’.”

“This may mean strategically adding new connections between urban areas indeed, linking separated networks of public spaces. And this may mean mixing housing and always urban, targeting a mix of people. Designing the inclusive city means designing public spaces for everyone. This does not mean making public space similar everywhere, nor equally connected, neither everywhere the same mix. Instead, inclusive urban designers respect that all people need their place different people, different places, thus different designs.”

The Public Space becomes People’s Living Room.

“The city is like a big house. In the network of public spaces, there is room for everybody. We design shared spaces on all the levels of scale. And this is an important and most recent lesson. To conclude one way to change the future of the city is to design for social mobility. A bridge or any new connection may help to make an area less isolated. Better public transport may work too. Another way to overcome inequality and segregation is to mix people in the future city. Redeveloping urban areas in disuse for new groups may be beneficial. Reconstructing dwellings, and targeting mixing higher and lower incomes or different groups of any kind, too. As inclusive urban designers, we understand the impact of such interventions at the neighborhood level. We do not want the negative effects of gentrification, nor an upward progress pushing people out. Connectivity and diversity inform our assignments, and they can be changed. Finding a balance is crucial. This means that we design a wide variety of public spaces… bringing together different people, in different public spaces. This also means that we do not only apply, say, hipster-proof furniture and planting. Instead, we vary in design elements for the public space too. Up to the smallest detail we design for all people. After this introduction video, you can watch the analysis video on a neighborhood scale, which will continue on how to map neighborhoods, public spaces, boundaries, and connections.”

This educational video is part of the course Building Inclusive Cities, available for free via online-learning TUDelft , and at the EdX MOOC platform. ©️ TU Delft, released under a CC BY NC SA license.

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