Right to accessibility

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Vol 62, No 7 (2020)

Adequacy of religious heritage buildings. A strategy for improving accessibility in the Historic Center of Puebla Mexico

Adriana Hernández Sánchez, Christian Enrique De la Torre Sánchez


In Mexico, there are few successful examples of improving accessibility conditions in historic centers. The relationship between daily activities, the recognition of human diversity and the conservation of heritage has not been conceptualized. It has not been understood that accessibility is a human right, above the aesthetics and prioritization of the monument, since there are old buildings that retain their original uses and daily affluence such as Catholic temples, which are also considered cultural sites and containers of heritage, art (movable property) and social practices with tourist attraction.
In Puebla, there is the experience of a participatory and inclusive accessibility project where five heritage buildings were involved. They are historical temples that form an itinerary due to their proximity and importance in the original area of the ancient city. In the first section, there is Santa Monica, considered a sanctuary that receives thousands of faithful every week, the former convent of Santo Domingo, where the Rosario chapel is located, and the city’s Cathedral Basilica, connected by the pedestrian street more important of the city, “La 5 de mayo”. Towards the south, completing the route, San Juan de Letrán, “El Hospitalito” and La Soledad are located, with the Amparo Museum near of them. All temples are ancient, dating from the 16th to 19th centuries.
During 2015 and 2016, through joint work between local authorities, universities and civil associations, in addition to the financial support of a local municipal entity and another international entity from the Chilean government, various elements were put in place to improve accessibility, like metalic ramps reversibles, and there were intervened pavements in atriums and accesses. Even in 2020, it is a project of territorial scope for the benefit of all, not only for people with reduced mobility, which allows autonomous and easy-to-use travel, even for those people who need to be assisted by another person, since the percentages of slopes on the ramps range between six and ten percent.
The methodology developed to the work was through the incorporation of an interdisciplinary team, Re Genera Espacio, which promoted the importance of reconverting these heritage buildings into accessible spaces, an action promoted before the custodians of the five temples, as well as establishing a diagnostic analysis of each case and develop the project, in addition to supervising the work in order to realize with local and international regulations and recommendations.
The project was well received by the custodians, after a long process of work, as well as by the rest of the population, which is reflected in a considerable increase in people with disabilities who come to the temples, whether they are parishioners or tourists, and other people with reduced mobility who make use of open spaces, such as atriums and streets. We emphasize that more interventions are required in other spaces considered less important. This is a first step towards more accessible cities, in this case a historic area, which requires urgent interventions to create accessibility networks. This work gave guidelines to other projects that have been developed by the team, not only with motor disabilities, but also with people with blindness and visual weakness.


Accessibility; historical centers; heritage; mobility; accessible route.

To access to manage the symbolic dimension. A citizen right

Antoni Remesar, Javier Vergel Faro


To give meaning to urban space is one of the most relevant activities to allow its conversion into public space, in turning sites into places. For this, it is essential to expand the concept of “accessibility” to the level of “symbolic accessibility” and understand it as one of the new urban rights.

The article develops the concepts of “symbolism a priori” and “symbolism a posteriori” as intervention strategies of meaning of the public space. The first responds to the usual operations from the administration, the second to the popular processes of appropriation of space.

Analysing the experience of creative participation – today in progress – in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Bon Pastor, the article raises the possibility of creating a meeting place between the two types of symbolism, through processes of co-production of public space, specifically its co-design.


Public Space; Public art; Co-design; Citizen participation; Bon Pastor; Barcelona