Inclusive Urban Spaces

Can we make the urban design process of today and of the future more inclusive in order to respond to the needs of city's actual residents? And if so, how? In collaboration with Open Kaart, municipality of Dordrecht and province of Zuid-Holland we investigated this in the De Staart neighbourhood in Dordrecht. Read all about it in this study, made possible by the Creative Industries Fund NL.

As geodata that represents public space becomes more accessible, the data scan becomes an increasingly important tool in the design process of urban planners. However, the use of data means that design plans are more often based on the needs of a fictitious 'average' resident. This was also the case for the public space in De Staart, where the design was made for the fictitious "average" resident and the result did not meet the needs of the actual residents. This resulted in limited use of the public spaces. Therefore, we investigated whether more inclusive methods with active involvement of residents could lead to better use of the public spaces.

Inclusive process

Firstly, we investigated what an inclusive design process looks like and what the role of the designer is within. Essential for an inclusive design process is the integrated approach to the design task from different perspectives. Unlike a more traditional process, where approaches from different perspectives take turns, approaches from different perspectives in the inclusive design process are executed in parallel and continuously reinforce one another.


As designers, we have been involved in the experience scan, the space scan, the data scan and in linking these perspectives with each other and with existing policy initiatives. This integrating role is characteristic of designers and is a requirement for inclusive design.

Inclusive method

Data on healthy urbanization is often only available at the district and neighbourhood level: this makes it ideal to bring forward points of attention, including residents in the process is necessary to give more colour to the data. You can't tell a story with data alone. In addition to supplementing the data scan with other types of scans and linking these insights together, we discovered a number of adjustments needed to make our data analysis more representative, including allowing different target groups to give a weight to indicators to make outcomes more target group specific. In addition, we came up with a set of new quantitative and qualitative indicators that are relevant to understand the potential uses of the public spaces analysed.

Inclusive neighbourhood

Based on the integrated neighbourhood scan, we were able to point out key locations where interventions could impact the liveability of the neighbourhood significantly on different levels. These were places where insights from the participation sessions (experience scan), spatial opportunities (spatial scan), running policy initiatives and points of attention regarding urban health (data scan) came together. In these key locations, we propose three main design ideas. Firstly, greenifying the neighbourhood in strategic places: not more but better greenery. Secondly, (ZONDER 'by') we propose to enliven the neighbourhood and strengthen social cohesion by concentrating the programme on a limited number of places, including the park. And finally, we stimulate more physical movement through installing better connections.