Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer

Public Open Spaces: Enabling or Impeding Inclusive Evacuation during Disasters


During disasters the death of persons with disabilities is higher than that of the rest of the population. This problem has many causes, and one of them has to do with the conditions of the physical environments which are not accessible for all, implying that people with disabilities require more time and effort to try to escape from dangerous places, protect themselves, and reach safety areas such as public spaces where people can gather, help each other, and remain safe at least during the first hours of an emergency. Thus, identifying the main problems that could prevent public spaces from becoming risk handling and inclusion resources during a disaster within social production settings is the main purpose of this research. The methodology used includes literature review, spatial audits based on inclusion and risk reduction standards within all public spaces of three neighborhoods of the city of Quito in Ecuador, and focus groups with the neighbors, persons with disabilities and their families. The three case studies selected are Atucucho, Carapungo and Auqui de Monjas, all present high disaster risk levels and have characteristics of social production of their territories. The results show that the conditions that need attention to enable public spaces become risk handling and inclusion resources during disasters have to do with three different dimensions; the first one refers to their physical characteristics and informational elements which must comply with universal accessibility requirements that provide autonomy and safety to all; the second dimension has to do with their connectivity, both on their ability to generate a network close to the community as well as to multi-modal mobility; the third dimension has to do with social and cultural aspects as persons with disabilities often feel that public spaces are not friendly for them because these are being occupied by other groups such as young people or that they are privatized in some way.


Read the full article in accessible html-format here.

Pages:79 to 92
Section: Academic
How to Cite
Pacheco Barzallo, A., Fariña, J. and Álvarez de Andrés, E. (2022) “Public Open Spaces: Enabling or Impeding Inclusive Evacuation during Disasters”, The Journal of Public Space, 7(2), pp. 79-92. doi:

Author Biographies

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid & Universidad Internacional del Ecuador
Ecuador Ecuador

Architect, MSc. in management of technology, master’s in urban planning, PhD candidate in urban planning at the Technical University of Madrid and Lecturer at the International University of Ecuador, with experience on universal accessibility standardization and research. The focus of my research is inclusion of older persons with disabilities, particularly within informal settings where exclusion and poverty intersect. During the last ten years I have participated on projects seeking to influence universal accessibility and inclusive disaster risk management, like the Ecuadorian Methodology for Universal Accessibility Plans which won the prize as best practice by the Design for All Foundation, and INGRID-H, a methodology to implement inclusive disaster risk reduction plans in hospitals.

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Spain Spain

Dr. Arquitecto, Licenciado en Derecho, Técnico Urbanista del IEAL y Máster en Organización de Empresas. Catedrático de Universidad. Desde julio de 2018 Profesor Emérito de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Fue director de la revista Urban y en la actualidad lo es de Ci[ur]. Miembro del Consejo de Redacción de CF+S, del Comité Científico de las revistas TRIA, RETICULA, URBS, PLANUR-e y del Comité Hábitat español. Experto en Buenas Prácticas del Ministerio de Fomento, de la FEMP, y del Working Group on Urban Design for Sustainability de la Unión Europea. También del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Construcción Sostenible del Comité Técnico de Normalización AEN CTN-041 de AENOR. Miembro de GBCe, del comité científico de ASA y de la Asociación Española de Técnicos Urbanistas. Ha recibido diferentes premios y distinciones entre los que destacan, el primer premio de Tesis Doctorales del Instituto de Estudios de Administración Local y el PLEA Awards 2020 de la organización Passive and Low Energy Architecture.

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Spain Spain

Architect, PhD in urban planning and lecturer at the DUyOT. I have more than 25 years' experience in research-action projects aimed at accompanying excluded communities in their struggle to make their right to housing and the city effective in different regions: Europe, Latin America, and Africa. I am member of several international networks such as AESOP or N_AERUS. I have participated in several EU-funded projects and as an international consultant for organisations such as Cities Alliance. Author of more than 20 publications, in international journals. An experience that he incorporates into the master's degree as coordinator of the subject "Urban Challenges of the Global South in the 21st Century" in the MUPUT - DUyOT - ETSA - UPM.


Aguiar, R. (2017) Microzonificación sísmica de Quito, Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra y la Construcción ESPE. Quito.

Aldrich, N. and Benson, W. F. (2008) Disaster preparedness and the chronic disease needs of vulnerable older adults. Preventing Chronic Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available at: (Accessed: 29 January 2021)

Alejandra, M. and Lara, C. (2019) El reto de la sustentabilidad ante la expansión urbana y la producción social de vivienda. Available at: (Accessed: 11 April 2021)

Brand, D. and Nicholson, H. (2016) “Public space and recovery: learning from post-earthquake Christchurch,” Journal of Urban Design, 21(2), pp. 159-176. Available at: (Accessed: 19 March 2022)

Burby, R. (1998) Cooperating with Nature: Confronting Natural Hazards with Land-Use Planning for Sustainable Communities. Joseph Henry Press, Washington, DC.

Carvajal Flores, B. J. (2013) Estudio del déficit habitacional y de hábitat del barrio de Auqui de Monjas de la Parroquia de San Blas del Distrito Metropolitano de Quito 2009-2010. Quito.

Chaiyachati, K. H. et al. (2018) “Evaluating the association between the built environment and primary care access for new Medicaid enrollees in an urban environment using Walk and Transit Scores,” Preventive Medicine Reports. Elsevier, 9, p. 24. doi: 10.1016/J.PMEDR.2017.12.001.

Christian Blind Mission (2017) Disability Inclusive Development Toolkit. Available at:

El Telégrafo (2014) “Atucucho, una historia de organización y paciencia.” Available at: (Accessed: 29 June 2020)

El Telégrafo (2015) "Carapungo es una miniciudad que nació hace 3 décadas en la capital". Available at: (Accessed: 23 June 2020)

Europe, A. F. (2015) The International Design for All Foundation awards 5 projects. Available at: (Accessed: 9 January 2022)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (2008) En Tierra Segura. Desastres Naturales y Tenencia de la Tierra. Ecuador. Available at:

French, E. L. et al. (2019) “Designing public open space to support seismic resilience: A systematic review”, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. Elsevier Ltd, 34, pp. 1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2018.11.001.

Gülgün, B. et al. (2016) “Earthquake Park Design and Some Examples from the World and Turkey,” J. Int. Environmental Application & Science, 11(2), pp. 159-165.

Hounakzahi, M. A. and Fanni, Z. (2019) “Reduce the effects of natural hazards (earthquakes) on urban environments with an emphasis on capacity building (Case study: Zahedan City),” Researches in Earth Sciences. Shahid Beheshti University, 10(3), pp. 191-213. doi: 10.52547/ESRJ.10.3.191.

Hunt, M. R. et al. (2015) “Haitian and international responders’ and decision-makers’ perspectives regarding disability and the response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake,” Global Health Action, 8(1), pp. 1-10. doi: 10.3402/gha.v8.27969.

Koren, D. and Rus, K. (2019) “The potential of open space for enhancing urban seismic resilience: A literature review,” Sustainability (Switzerland), 11(21), pp. 1-20. doi: 10.3390/su11215942.

León, J. and March, A. (2014) “Urban morphology as a tool for supporting tsunami rapid resilience: A case study of Talcahuano, Chile,” Habitat International. Pergamon, 43, pp. 250-262. doi: 10.1016/J.HABITATINT.2014.04.006.

Levitt, J. M. (2017) “Exploring how the social model of disability can be re-invigorated: in response to Mike Oliver,” Disability & Society. Routledge, 7599, pp. 1-6. doi: 10.1080/09687599.2017.1300390.

Mitra, S., Posarac, A. and Vick, B. (2013) “Disability and Poverty in Developing Countries: A Multidimensional Study,” World Development. Pergamon, 41(1), pp. 1-18. doi: 10.1016/J.WORLDDEV.2012.05.024.

Municipio de Quito (2015) Atlas Amenazas Naturales DMQ. Quito. Available at:

Nunnerley, J. et al. (2015) “Participation and quality of life outcomes among individuals with earthquake-related physical disability: A systematic review,” Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, (11), pp. 385-393. doi: 10.2340/16501977-1965.

Oliver, M. and Barnes, C. (2012) The New Politics of Disablement, Palgrave Macmillan.
Pan American Health Organization (2018) Disability Inclusion in Hospital Disaster Risk Management (INGRID-H). Washington, DC. Available at: (Accessed: 19 May 2019)

Pizzo, B. et al. (2013) “Earthquakes, public spaces and (the social construction of) environmental disasters: The role of public space for risk mitigation and urban redevelopment and the role of environmental disasters for reassessing the ‘space of the Public’.,” Italian Journal of Planning Practice, 3(1), pp. 4-41.

Quito Informa (2022) "El Municipio llegó al barrio Atucucho para atender sus necesidades". Available at: (Accessed: 26 May 2022)

La República (2016) “Cerca de 2.000 personas con discapacidad entre afectados por el terremoto en Ecuador.” Available at: (Accessed: 25 May 2022)

Scheuer, J. (2013) Proteger a las personas con discapacidad en situaciones de desastre | Jo Scheuer | UNDP. Available at: (Accessed: 22 January 2019)

Secretaria de Gestión de Riesgos (2016) “Informe de situación N°1 16-04-2016 22h30,” 1(1), pp. 1-4. Available at:ón-1-22h303.pdf

Sharifi, A. (2019) “Urban form resilience: A meso-scale analysis,” Cities. Pergamon, 93, pp. 238-252. doi: 10.1016/J.CITIES.2019.05.010.

Skøt, L. et al. (2016) “Accessibility of medical and psychosocial services following disasters and other traumatic events: experiences of Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in Denmark,” Disability and Rehabilitation. Informa UK Ltd., 0(0), p. 000. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2016.1236154.

Stough, L. M. and Kang, D. (2015) “The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and Persons with Disabilities,” International Journal of Disaster Risk Science. Beijing Normal University Press, 6(2), pp. 140-149. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0051-8.

The World Bank, International Food Policy Research Institute and Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (no date) Economic Vulnerability and Disaster Risk Assessment in Malawi and Mozambique: Measuring Economic Risks of Droughts and Floods. Available at:

United Nations (2006) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York.

United Nations (2015) Marco de Sendai para la Reducción del Riesgo de Desastres 2015-2030. Available at: (Accessed: 19 May 2019)

United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2014) General Comment no. 2 on Article 9: Accessibility CRPD.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (no date) Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Situations. Available at: (Accessed: 25 May 2022)

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (2016) The New Urban Agenda – Habitat III. Available at: (Accessed: 9 January 2022)

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (2013) Encuesta Mundial ONU Explica por qué Mueren tantas Personas con Discapacidad en los Desastres. Geneva. Available at: http://www.unisdr.orghttp//

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (2016) Informe del grupo de trabajo intergubernamental de expertos de composición abierta sobre los indicadores y la terminología relacionados con la reducción del riesgo de desastres. New York.

United Nations Refugee Agency (2017) Los peores desastres naturales del siglo XXI. Available at: (Accessed: 31 August 2021)

El Universo (2009) “León Febres-Cordero: Legado histórico y obras más importantes.” Available at: (Accessed: 22 September 2021)

Vicepresidencia Ecuador (2012) Primer estudio biopsicosocial clínico génetico de las personas con discapacidad en Ecuador 2009-2010. Vicepresidencia de la República del Ecuador. Available at: (Accessed: 19 May 2019)

Zuo, J., Zhou, T. and Lin, L. (2015) “Medium and Small-Sized City Park Development from the Perspective of city Earthquake Disaster,” Journal of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering, 30(2), pp. 23-26.
Open Access Journal
ISSN 2206-9658