Equity and accessibility

Urban environments are where people from various ethical, social, cultural, economic backgrounds, ages and gender live together. Segregation of urban communities leads to both spatially and socially divided urban environments. As a result, equity becomes an important issue in achieving sustainable community development. Thus, designing public spaces for everyone is crucial in today’s communities for developing community identity and preventing social fragmentation. Urban landscape design helps to create accessible environments for everyone in the community in terms of public open space. Public open spaces are places where people from different backgrounds get together and experience the urban environment equally in democratic communities. Thus, the activities and opportunities offered in these places should serve the needs and expectations of different groups in the community. Open and green spaces should be distributed evenly throughout the city. Special design techniques are needed to be taken into account for accessibility of disadvantaged groups, such as disabled and elderly. Not only the activities but also the landscape material should be selected appropriately to ensure easy accessibility and safety. Children should also be amongst priority in landscape design. Encouraging children to spend their free time in urban open and green spaces is a completely different research area itself. It is an interdisciplinary subject involving many dimensions from child development to landscape design. On the other hand, there is a clear need for promoting children living in urban environments to get involved in outdoor activities for healthier lifestyles as well as developing sense of community. Therefore, urban landscape design should give importance to creating safe, enjoyable and creative environments for children, and of course for their parents where they feel safe to let their children out.

Urban open and green spaces offer a unique opportunity for integration of different social groups and individuals. Hence, designers should seek ways to support social cohesion through space. Community involvement in planning and design schemes is necessary in order to have an idea of existing problems, needs, and expectations of different groups within the community.