Spatial Audit of Charlottesville ParksReport
Charlottesville city parks provide its community members with areas of public space, outdoor recreation, and interactive play. However, the community served is primarily those of able-bodied individuals. This audit aims to identify the environmental and designed barriers of the community with limited mobility, navigating through exclusive playspaces of Charlottesville and the greater Albemarle area. A scorecard was designed to evaluate Charlottesville parks to analyze aspects of playspaces in parks that contribute to, or detract from, inclusivity.
Through this spatial audit, our results showed that the parks in the City of Charlottesville do not provide the appropriate infrastructure within playspaces to accommodate users with mobility devices. City parks typically met ADA requirements, but as emphasized through interviews with parents and inclusive playground designers, adherence to minimum requirements does not lend itself to inclusivity. While many parks meet ADA standards, overall park scores reveal that Charlottesville parks lack inclusive and accessible play structures. Although some parks did have independent play structures, there were other issues present, such as the playspace materiality barring wheelchair access or whether similar play could be achieved while a child with limited mobility has access to just one, on-ground structure, while their peers have access to the entire play area. Since more than half of the city parks do not have structures that could be conducive to independent play, public open space becomes exclusive of users with limited mobility. Accessibility to a playspace is not sufficient in encouraging play and interaction as it simply provides the route to play. Inclusivity, on the other hand, allows children to similarly experience the same playspace, thus cultivating equitable interactions between children of varying abilities. Inclusivity heightens collective play and allows ability differences to fall away. This important distinction is at the heart of our research, and every effort was made to keep inclusivity our main focus.
playspace, inclusive, accessibility, accessible, inclusivity, Charlottesville, parks, open space, play, Bennett's Village, park design, playspace design
University of Virginia
The Spatial Audit of Charlottesville Parks was completed as a University of Virginia project in partnership with Bennett's Village, as part of the Methods of Community Engagement course in the School of Architecture.