Designing cities that work for women: key takeaways from a Perth workshop

Attendees from the workshop in Perth exploring designing cities for women.
Published: 03/05/2024

On 2 May our Director of Design, Heather Claridge, participated in a thought-provoking workshop exploring how cities can be designed with women's needs and experiences at the forefront.  

The session led by Dr. May East and co-hosted by Ben Wilson at Perth and Kinross Council, aimed to share Dr. East's research findings on how women navigate and experience urban spaces in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Perth. Her findings have been published in the book "What if Women Designed the City," and share insights gleaned from walking interviews with 99 women in Perth, part of a larger study encompassing 270 women across Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Perth. 

Key themes from the workshop

Delving into the concept of "leverage points" – small, strategic changes that can significantly impact the inclusivity and gender sensitivity of a city, the workshop discussions centred around several key themes: 

Green and nature 

Perth's natural beauty and abundance of green spaces were recognised as significant strengths. Participants emphasised the importance of maintaining free access to these areas and exploring the creation of more nature corridors, which can contribute to improved health and wellbeing for people and biodiversity. 

Accessible transportation 

The availability of electric bikes and wheelchairs emerged as a potential solution for promoting wider mobility within the city. The "fresh air route" introduced by a participant, which avoids car-heavy roads, sparked interest as a model for prioritising pedestrian and cyclist safety and supporting wellbeing.  

Vibrant city centre 

Striking a balance between safety and vibrancy within the city centre was a key concern. Participants discussed the "ghost town" feeling that can pervade certain areas, impacting perceptions of safety. Additionally, the limited bus service, with the last number 7 bus stopping at 7:30 pm, was highlighted as an obstacle to inclusive mobility. 

Designing cities that work for women and beyond

This workshop underscores the importance of designing cities that cater to the diverse needs of all residents. By prioritising green spaces, accessible transportation, and a vibrant city centre, Perth can strive towards becoming a more inclusive and gender-sensitive urban environment, where everyone can thrive. 

Header image credited to Dr May East