Prague, October 15-17, 1987
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The Hidden Dimension in the Renewal of the Central Park in Trabzon: A Case Study
Nilgun Kuloglu and Sengul Öymen Gür, K.T.U., Turkey
Only a handful architects and researchers in Turkey are taking the needs of the disabled population into consideration in the design of the physical environment. Their direct influence on the building of the actual environment is, however, very limited because of a lack of bureaucratic links between research and implementation.
The renewal of the Central Park in Trabzon, a middle-sized town at the Eastern Black Sea coast, is a case in point. The park has been the hub of Trabzon, ever since the times when this city played a central role as a highway transportation center linking Asia and Europe. Although today highway transportation has lost its previous importance to faster modes of transport, the park itself has retained its central function in the town. Here, people from the surrounding hinterlands and villages doing their business in the town gather and disperse. The park serves as a center for rest, recreation and communication for the local population.
Recognized its contribution to the community life of the area, the park was redesigned and renewed at the beginning of this financial year by the municipality of Trabzon. The authors of this paper were unaware of the design process and had no opportunity to intervene in its implementation for bureaucratic reasons. After completion of the renewal work we studied the park from the viewpoint of accessibility for persons with disabilities. The present paper is the report that emerged from our study and we sincerely regret that we did not intervene earlier, since the park in its present form is totally inaccessible to wheelchair users. Furthermore, because of the lack of fixed furniture in the park, persons with sight-impairments find it difficult to use. We have prepared recommendations at several levels, redesigned several locations in the park and made provisions for fixed furniture.
Observation, Measurement and Recommendations
As a primary issue, we studied the accessibility of the park itself first. The Central Park is ringed by one-way traffic, with the bus stops located on the northern side. At first, we proposed ramps with an appropriate gradient to make the bus stops accessible to wheelchair users. We soon realized, however, that too much space was needed. To achieve this gradient space would have to be taken at the expense of either the pavement or the street. As a consequence, the ramps would directly interfere with either pedestrian or vehicular traffic. On the north side, traffic is already overloaded and we decided instead to propose a special bus stop for people with disabilities on the south side of the park . Located near the park on this side, there also are small accessible shops.
Secondly, we spoke with the staff from the municipality bus service. The municipality owns a certain type of bus which could most easily be converted to the use by persons with disabilities (type MAN SL 200). Because of its low initial step, it can be adapted to accommodate most wheelchairs.
Measurement of the rest rooms indicated that they were largely inaccessible to persons with disabilities. For one, they are located on a raised slab 20 cm in height which is impossible for most wheelchair riders to negotiate. In its place, we proposed a concrete ramp.
We studied the available rest room designs and recommended one suitable for persons with disabilities. We also produced some designs of our own and eventually chose one which needed the least space for ramps. While this particular solution involves the most extensive interior alterations, it results in the least modifications of the surrounding park. All interior walls would need to be torn down to create one wheelchair accessible toilet in both sexes rest rooms. The existing door width is 63 cm allowing many manual wheelchair sizes to pass through. In our proposal, doors at the main entrance and the special rest rooms are 90 cm wide. The toilets themselves are 80 cm high and require no change. But the washbasins need to be dismantled and re-attached to the new interior walls at an accessible height.
For persons with sight-impairments we suggested signal systems for the walkways. From our previous studies we had learned that sight-impaired persons face orientation difficulties when furniture is not fixed. We recommended, therefore, that a certain area of the park be reserved for persons with sight impairments, and produced easily realizable fixed furniture designs.
We also examined the surface material which we deemed unsafe for non-disabled women wearing high-heeled shoes. After measuring the distance between the paving slabs, we decided that it would not cause any great problems for persons with disabilities.
The final report from our study has been submitted to the mayor or Trabzon. Any positive effects it might have would confirm our belief that through determination and reasoning one can effect changes for the better both in the attitudes of decision-makers and in the physical environment.
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