“We should all feel welcome to the park” Intergenerational Public Space and Universal Design in Disinvested Communities
This article investigates the potential for intergenerational public space in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Through a series of site observations, focus groups, interviews, thick mapping, and participatory design exercises, we work with 43 youth and 38 older adults (over 65), all residents of Westlake, to examine their public space use, experiences, and desires, and identify where the two groups’ interests intersect or diverge. We explore the potential for complementary approaches to creating intergenerational public space using the principles of Universal Design. In doing so, we emphasize the importance of taking an intersectional approach to designing public space that considers the multiple, often overlapping identities of residents of historically marginalized communities predicated by disability and age, in addition to race, class, and gender. Our findings yield insights for creating more inclusive and accessible public spaces in disinvested urban neighborhoods as well as opportunities for allyship between groups whose public space interests have been marginalized by mainstream design standards.
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