Weathering the storm: Generating intersectional urban design understandings for winter cities


  • Alison L. Grittner Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary
  • Christine A. Walsh Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary


Intersectionality, Urban design, Winter cities, Accessibility, Disability


Taking an intersectional approach, this research explicates the unique manner in which spatial injustice is experienced in a winter city when an individual possesses the multiple disadvantaged identities of disability, gender, age, and class. Employing case study methodology and go-along interview methods, this research answers the question: how can the lived experience of an older, formerly homeless woman with mobility and mental health disabilities inform intersectional design recommendations for winter cities? The findings identify three priority areas for intersectional design in winter cities to facilitate inclusion, wellness, and resilience among those disadvantaged by disability, gender, age, and class. These areas are: components of the built environment requiring intersectional understanding of accessibility (sidewalks, public transit-access routes, building entrances, and public transit pick-up zones); the urban context of senior and affordable housing; and public transportation. This paper contributes to the literature by demonstrating that intersectional understandings of urban winter environments are potent knowledge towards transforming cities from ones that disable and marginalize, to ones that enable and empower.