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Accessibility to public urban space: think about the diversity of the ordinary pedestrian practices

Abstract : Thomas argues that, over the past 30 years in France, access to urban public space has become a major challenge for city planning and for improving city-dwellers’ quality of life. However, the current approach continues to promote a technical approach to accessibility by providing isolated technical devices for disabled individuals. The chapter presents the background and a review of assistive devices to conceptualise those urban public places that have been adapted. Developed from the field of architectural and urban ambience research, which promotes a sensitive approach to the built environment, the critical perspective in this chapter adopts the opposite stance by defending two ideas: first, pedestrian access to the city is the result of a practical and perceptual process of taking root that is constructed during the walk; and secondly, urban accessibility should be conceptualised in terms of the help provided by the city’s environment. Drawing on ethnomethodology, urban sociology and in situ examples, the chapter introduces the idea of “sensory configuration”: visual, bright, sound, tactile and thermal resources afforded by the environment. In so doing, the study casts doubt on the normalisation of design rules and points to a matrix for reading space perceived in motion; it also highlights the practical dimension of situated perception, which goes beyond the mere notion of urban mobility and shapes people’s relationships with others.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 3:46:46 PM
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Rachel Thomas. Accessibility to public urban space: think about the diversity of the ordinary pedestrian practices. Dissart, Jean-Christophe; Seigneuret, Natacha. Local resources and well-being: a multidisciplinary perspective, pp.162-179, 2020, 9781789908602. ⟨10.4337/9781789908619.00018⟩. ⟨hal-02520278⟩



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