Global agendas of sustainable, smart, healthy, livable, age-friendly, and inclusive cities all aim towards essentially a common goal: better places to live, for everyone. However, in the details, these campaigns can have diverse, competing, agendas and a focus on high level principles over practical realities and lived experiences. This can diminish the potential benefit for people who are most disadvantaged such as the urban poor, persons with disabilities, older people, migrants, and women. Research on cities need to prioritise and involve such groups to ensure equitable urban development. This paper will discuss inclusive design approaches for creating inclusive, equitable, cities through case studies of research with persons with disabilities on inclusive city design and informal settlements and urban interventions in cities such as Varanasi, India; Chennai, India; and London, UK. Lessons learned from these cities will draw out for an inclusive design approach that involves persons with disabilities, understands contextual barriers and engages city stakeholders creates more equitable urban environments. Global South cities often look to Global North cities for best practice and design standards. This trend can be seen in many Global south cities where the most accessible urban spaces are often international hotels and shopping malls used by international visitors. Our research has found that inclusive design must consider the local context to be reflective of how people live in the city and mitigate multiple constraints. Mimicking universal solutions can lead to maintenance and sustainability challenges; including poor upkeep and lack of ownership by local communities. It also misses opportunities to create bottom-up inclusive design strategies that both support and celebrate how local people want to live. Learning from inclusive design in these cities, our research is identifying ‘what works’ and where there are transferable and adaptable processes that can support the co-creation of inclusive cities in resource-constrained contexts, among complex global challenges, while celebrating diversity.
Mikaela Patrick is a researcher at the Global Disability Innovation Hub where she leads research on the UK Aid funded AT2030 Inclusive Infrastructure sub-programme looking at inclusive design of the built environment in Mongolia, India, Indonesia, Kenya and Sierra Leone. Mikaela is a researcher and inclusive designer with a background in global health, innovation and architecture. Prior to joining GDI Hub, Mikaela worked as a Research Associate at the Helen Hamlyn Centre of Design looking at the process of designing and constructing buildings for later life care and with Stema on community-led solutions to improving health in low-resource settings. She has varied experience across research, design and consultancy: including work in architectural practice in Spain and China; and fieldwork on maternal health in rural Kenya and adolescent mental health in urban South Africa. Iain McKinnon is Director of Inclusive Design at the Global Disability Innovation Hub. This includes teaching on GDI Hub’s MSc and leading GDI Hub’s Inclusive Design programmes and consultancy work. Iain has over 16 years’ experience working on Inclusive Design of the built environment as both a consultant and client. He led on Inclusive Design for the development of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the London 2012 Paralympic Legacy programme, producing the Inclusive Design Standards and facilitating the Park’s Built Environment Access Panel. Prabha Roy holds a Post Graduate degree in City Planning from IIT Kharagpur, and Graduate degree in Architecture from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Currently she is working as an urban development consultant and researcher at the National Institute of Urban Affairs for a project called Building Accessible, Safe & Inclusive Indian Cities. Her role is to develop urban innovative strategies to support and facilitate technical assistance to smart cities on transforming urban areas as accessible, inclusive and safe for all. She has been involved in managing and implementing projects funded by multilateral agencies e.g., World Bank, ADB, USAID, FCDO, etc. Over the last six years, Prabha has been involved in multiple projects related to Inclusive Cities, WASH improvement, Infrastructure Improvement, Smart Solutions, Blue-Green Infrastructure, Housing and Slum Redevelopment, Inclusive Tourism, Riverfront Development, etc. at planning, design and implementation stage She has quite an experience on working for wide array of urban issues and formulating innovative strategies/framework in consultation with the stakeholders at national/sate/city level. Utsav Choudhury currently leads the Building Accessible Safe Inclusive Indian Cities programme at the National Institute of Urban Affairs. Utsav is a trained Anthropologist from Delhi University, India with over 8 years of community, social service, and development sector work. He has a demonstrated experience of working in the sector on human centric projects, which includes implementing various multilateral projects from USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bernard van Leer Foundation, and more recently the UK-FCDO, with focus on social impact in both urban and rural India. Dr Shivani Gupta is passionate about independent living for persons with disabilities in less resourced areas. Her areas of work include improving physical accessibility and support services. She is the founder and chief consultant with AccessAbility and has worked with different stakeholders including the government, private companies and organizations of persons with Disabilities, UN agencies to promote inclusion and accessibility of persons with disabilities. She has co-authored publications pertaining to accessibility in physical environments, public procurement, assistive devices, support services especially from the context of less-resourced rural villages. She is also the author of ‘No Looking Back’ inspired from her own life experiences as a woman with disabilities living in India published by Rupa Publications.