European Case Studies of Waterfront Architecture
Through field surveys of modern waterfront architecture in ten cities
of Europe, I will consider relationship between modern architecture
and waterfront, from the following viewpoints: urban waterfront architecture
and architecture with design emphasizing water.
In the 1st chapter, three examples of urban waterfront architecture
will be shown. Firstly, the waterfront development of Docklands along
the Thames (London, England) utilized vast water surface following
the former shipbuilding dock, because it assigned top priority to retain
memories of old London. However, this area has the problem that office
floor area can not be ensured in proportion to developed area, although
contact with waterfront is assured.
Secondly, in the international city along the River Rhone (Lyon,
France), the plan for international city by Renzo Piano is adopted
to the vacant
lot, where formerly international trading center and convention hall
functioned as "Grand Palais" had been located; complex
housing, public facilities, and commercial architectures will be
The plan also respects the disposition in the old Grand Palais, and
intends to link between separated park and river, although only view
and flow are emphasized; the development will be required to take
elements of river in the future.
Lastly, in the development plan for the bleak Port of Genova (Genova,
Italy), the main street was laid underground to ensure easy flow of
people from the city. The square and the aquarium on wharf and a ship
were built, as well as warehouses were converted into commercial facilities.
Such development enabled to connect the urban area and port.
In the next chapter, we will see examples of waterfront architecture
with design emphasizing water. The first examples are the SILODAM and
the Borneo Houses in the 7th quarter (Amsterdam, Netherlands) by MVRDV.
These architectures take water inside of the buildings or within their
lots towards life spaces. In the SILODAM, a collective housing was
planned in front of waterfront, providing close contact with water.
The Borneo Houses was designed, in such a way that one side faces on
the sea road, and the other on the canal; on the balcony in the room
on the ground floor facing onto the canal, inhabitants can come into
contact with water, where a boat often float and they often enjoy fishing.
This plan is also opened to the waterfront.
The representative case of artificial pond is found in the Guggenheim
Museum (Bilbao, Spain), where the water looks as if pulled from a river;
artificial ponds are arranged surrounding the museum, and one of them
facing the river is designed to appear as part of the river. The magical
atmosphere is created by walls covered by titanium, bathed in the sun
reflected from water surface.
Plan, Port of Genova]
Recent Situations of the East Coast in the United States
Most cities have developed along waterfront; however, many of them
have decayed into the downtown section. I will consider how to restore
bustling waterfront for urban renovation, from the situations of
the cities along the East Coast: Boston, Baltimore and New York.
In 1630, the British colonized in Boston and in the 19th century,
the urban area was expanded by major reclamation. In the 1950's,
of Central Artery and slum clearance in West End were conducted;
Faneuil Hall Marketplace was renovated by privatization instead of
It is to be noted that the development focused attention on historic
elements. In succeeding years, the buildings of the 19th century
on the pier were renovated or restored, including new shops and houses.
Harbor walk with 11m width open space was provided, and the quiet
forest was put in place along Charles River.
The Big Dig project for laying expressway underground, restored the
connection between the downtown and the waterfront which had been
cut by the expressway. Parks will be built in the lot of the expressway,
while the surrounding buildings which were once under the lee of
are now exposed; the redevelopment of the site should be reconsidered.
In the second place, we will see the case of Baltimore. Although
the city had been a once-flourishing port town in shipbuilding and
production, it started to decline in 1960's. However, Baltimore made
success of inviting convention center and again has gathered people
from every region of the country. In addition, conversion of sailboat
to museum, invitation of shops within thermal power plant, and maintenance
of inner harbor and Charles Center have activated the area. Furthermore,
the Fell's Point was specified as historic district and recently
has become popular.
Lastly, New York lacks places to be developed based on its history
because piers once had been expanded for dock vessels from the Atlantic,
was gradually being demolished. Although long overdue, the South
Street Seaport is worth noting as a specific solution for the city.
area, museum blocks were built into old buildings and moored ships,
while zoning on the pier and transferring floor areas to surrounding
areas also increased open spaces of the waterfront area.
As we have seen, these cities utilize historic stocks appropriately,
to redevelop waterfront into the attracting area. It is also worth
noting that the marginalized areas are regaining popularity.