Mikaela Patrick
Iain McKinnon


This paper presents some of the findings from a global research study on inclusive infrastructure and city design and will focus on inclusive public spaces. Persons with disabilities can experience multi-dimensional exclusion from urban life, including but not limited to physical, attitudinal and social barriers. Public spaces, including recreational and social spaces, are often not prioritised.  Inclusive public spaces are fundamental to participation and inclusive in society. Including persons with disabilities in the design and planning of the built environment supports equal rights and helps identify people’s aspirations for inclusive environments.
 Four city case studies will be discussed in this paper: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Varanasi, India; Surakarta, Indonesia; and Nairobi, Kenya. Research participants and objectives are organised by three stakeholder groups:

  1. People - first-hand experiences of persons with disabilities living in the city and their aspirations for a more inclusive city

  2. Policy - the awareness and understanding of inclusive design among policy-makers

  3. Practice - the awareness and understanding of inclusive design among practitioners including barriers to implementation, opportunities and the relationship with assistive technology

Methods include document reviews, interviews, photo diaries and co-design workshops with participatory and inclusive engagement of persons with disabilities throughout.  Findings on public spaces are discussed in three ways:

  1. The types of public spaces valued by participants in each of the four cities.

  2. The barriers and challenges experienced by persons with disabilities in the public realm.

  3. Aspirations for more inclusive public spaces and opportunities for inclusive design

The paper concludes by discussing how the targeted stakeholder groups of people, policy and practice also help represent three essential dimensions of inclusive city design and forming a framework for successful implementation and delivery and supporting targets set out through the UNCRPD and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Read the full article in accessible html-format here.


How to Cite
Patrick, M. and McKinnon, I. (2022) “Co-creating Inclusive Public Spaces: Learnings from Four Global Case Studies on inclusive Cities”, The Journal of Public Space, 7(2), pp. 93–116. doi: 10.32891/jps.v7i2.1500.
Author Biographies

Mikaela Patrick, Global Disability Innovation Hub, University College London

Mikaela is a Senior Inclusive Design Researcher at GDI Hub working across inclusive design and climate resilience. Mikaela is the research lead on the FCDO-funded AT2030 Inclusive Infrastructure sub-programme, conducting case studies on inclusive city design. Prior to joining GDI Hub, Mikaela worked as a researcher and inclusive designer with the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and Stema Health, and as an architectural designer in Spain and China. Mikaela also has experience in global health, working on inclusive, people-centred, research and design on projects in the UK, Sierra Leone, Peru, South Africa, Kenya, Mongolia, India, and Indonesia.

Iain McKinnon, Global Disability Innovation Hub, University College London

Iain McKinnon is co-founder and Director of Inclusive Design at the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) a research and practice centre based at University College London (UCL) and born out of the Paralympic legacy programme on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London, UK. Driving disability innovation for a fairer world, GDI Hub is operational in 41 countries and has reached 23 million people since launching in 2016. Iain originally trained as a Product Design Engineer and has always worked to develop creative and innovative solutions that address people's needs. Since 2005, Iain has worked on the inclusive design of the built environment, ensuring the world around us is genuinely inclusive, creating equally positive experiences for all end users regardless of ability, age, gender, race or faith. His work now focuses on cities in low and middle income countries in the global south. Iain’s ambition is to influence the way all designers and key decision makers view and approach design for people through teaching, training and delivering good practice. By placing disabled people at the heart of the design process, we arrive at more usable, intuitive and elegant solutions that are inclusive and benefit all of us.


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