Co-creating Inclusive Public Spaces: Learnings from Four Global Case Studies on inclusive Cities

Iain McKinnon, Mikaela Patrick
June 26, 2022
Academic Research Publications


This paper presents some of the findings from a global research study on inclusive infrastructure and city design and will focus on inclusive public spaces. Persons with disabilities can experience multi-dimensional exclusion from urban life, including but not limited to physical, attitudinal and social barriers. Public spaces, including recreational and social spaces, are often not prioritised.  Inclusive public spaces are fundamental to participation and inclusive in society. Including persons with disabilities in the design and planning of the built environment supports equal rights and helps identify people’s aspirations for inclusive environments.
 Four city case studies will be discussed in this paper: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Varanasi, India; Surakarta, Indonesia; and Nairobi, Kenya. Research participants and objectives are organised by three stakeholder groups:

  1. People - first-hand experiences of persons with disabilities living in the city and their aspirations for a more inclusive city
  2. Policy - the awareness and understanding of inclusive design among policy-makers
  3. Practice - the awareness and understanding of inclusive design among practitioners including barriers to implementation, opportunities and the relationship with assistive technology

Methods include document reviews, interviews, photo diaries and co-design workshops with participatory and inclusive engagement of persons with disabilities throughout.  Findings on public spaces are discussed in three ways:

  1. The types of public spaces valued by participants in each of the four cities.
  2. The barriers and challenges experienced by persons with disabilities in the public realm.
  3. Aspirations for more inclusive public spaces and opportunities for inclusive design

The paper concludes by discussing how the targeted stakeholder groups of people, policy and practice also help represent three essential dimensions of inclusive city design and forming a framework for successful implementation and delivery and supporting targets set out through the UNCRPD and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To read the full article follow the publisher link to Journal of Public Space.