"Waterfront Renovation−Firenze and the
In ancient times when the flow of the Arno had not appeared yet, wet
land was shaped around two lakes. In the process of geological transformation,
the flow of the Arno and surface of water had been formulated. Through
difficult formation process, this area had been suffered from complicated
problems and flood.
The Arno River was located in the plane field of Firenze, while roads
ran along rising ground. Furthermore, the importance from the strategic
point of view made flourished the city. Historical rivers had intricately
flown in the Roman times; however, these rivers were straightened.
Railroads were constructed, and many settlements were built along roads.
Rivers served roles as important axes to civilize cities and surrounding
Leonardo da Vinci proposed the concept of ideal city; the plan included
the change of flow and system of the Arno River, construction of waterways
utilizing water from rivers, and to move the river to the middle of
the city for rational and safe usage (Fig.1). This plan was expected
to protect against flood, allow large-scale ship transformation, and
made Firenze an inner port town.
He also proposed double-structured city, where upper level were for
roads, and lower level for canals.
The reconstruction figure of Firenze in the Roman Times, showed that
boats were used for connecting both sides of the river banks at first,
and wooden bridge was constructed next, and Ponte Vecchio was finally
built. Ship transportation was partly provided, while port facilities
were not fully utilized yet.
Birds' eye views show that in the Renaissance, rivers served roles
as in the Middle Ages; city core was the front side, and surrounding
area was the back side. In the city core, rivers gradually became architecture,
and then models.
Since ancient times, architectural structure was built over rivers
one after another along the river, attracting many people, and the
foot of a bridge became one of the important spots. Some of those places
were assumed to be water theaters (Fig.2). Cascine, Plazzo Pitti, and
the Arno River were important sites for festivals; between these two
bridges, artisans of dye shops and textile manufacturers performed
simulated war of ancient times, in the patio of Plazzo Pitti filled
Ponte Vecchio was rebuilt from simple one to wood bridge, and then
to a mighty style. The bridge functioned as defensive system. Shops
were built firstly inside and then outside of the bridge. In the Renaissance,
architecturally integrated vertical axis was formed along the Arno
River (Fig.3). The bridge had originally a portico. When the extension
is made to the bridge, the arcade was closed and shops were built instead.
In the modern era, portico was restored.
The reconstruction plan for the damages caused by the World War II,
proposed the conservation of tower and construction of terraces directly
down to the river banks. However, the plan could not be realized. Buildings
were lined over the river instead. Another broken bridge was restored
based on the original style.
In the 19th century, the relationship between rivers was altered; cities
and rivers were separated by dykes. Water mills linked economic activities.
Water drawn from the upper stream, flowed through buildings, water
mills and to the lower stream. Based on power supplied by water mills,
fabric industrial facilities were built. In the surrounding area of
Cascine, water flowed through waterways was utilized for power source
within the city (Fig.4).
The river wall was constructed at St. Nicolo bridge. Three roads were
built by demolishing two arches of the bridge and the connection between
water and the city was more or less separated. The axis of Cascine,
square as open space, and rivers as linkage, composed one of the important
places of Firenze. Ponte Vecchio got hit by flood in 1966; the flood
also damaged art works.
Many plans were prepared for the Arno River. Rogers proposed the reorganization
of the area along the river for recreation. Adding to the existing
steps, the plan proposed the idea to provide new steps for lower river
banks, in order to effectively utilize two levels.
The plan of Jean Carlo aimed at the restoration of the relationship
between rivers and surrounding districts for improving the environment.
It included reinforcement, enhancement and development of existing
green zone, and construction of green parks along the Arno by connecting
these green areas.
Other plan included the preparation of sidewalks along the river, vegetable
gardens, and ship transportation using boatslips.
In Firenze, small-scale, well-designed, high quality plans will be
formulated instead of high-rise buildings or large-scale development
for restoration of relationship with water. Through these plans, ecological
and safe places to restore nature, as well as for effective use for
human, will be created.
Drawing of City (Leonardo da Vinci)]
[Fig. 2 Restored
Ponte alle Grazie along the Arno River in the 19th Century
Street along the Arno River: beginning of the 19th century]
Water Mill in San Nicolo (De Cuppis: 1880's)]
Project for River Banks of the Arno, Richard Rogers: 1990]
"Roma and the Tevere River: Development
of Waterfront Cities−from its Origin to Present"
I will consider the relationship between cities and rivers in Roma
from the viewpoint of historical stage, focusing on dykes constructed
in the 19th century.
Roma was developed centered on the left bank (the east side). On the
other hand, the right bank has comprised of two cores: Vatican, and
Sant'Angelo aginst Trastevere. The structure of the left bank has geometric
axes and was shaped in the early phase of the city. The right bank
has had a complicated structure.
The flood in 1870 which caused significant damages, promoted the development
of dykes. The history of Roma has been characterized by flood damages,
not only to buildings or physical environment, but also to sanitary
conditions because of epidemic. It was required for Roma as capital
city, to design the system for surely protecting cities against flood.
Firstly, meandering stream of the Tevere River was planned to be straightened;
however, dykes were built instead. The natural relationship between
the city and the river, was changed after the construction of dykes.
Therefore, the construction of dykes has been considered to be a compromised
resolution, often criticized even today. However, from the technical
point of view, this solution should be reevaluated. At that point of
time, dynamic urban development was promoted, emphasizing on symbolic
representation of riverside landscape. Through historical studies of
dykes, the context of the construction of this "wall" could
From ancient times, the Tevere River served the role of "base
of the city" to develop boatslips, ports and cities. Through the
reconstruction drawing of ancient times, we can see that various spaces
were developed linking urban facilities to port functions. There were
also ports used for war.
In the 2nd century B.C., the dynamic commercial activities expanded
urban facilities toward downstream, where port facilities called Emporium
were constructed. Roma developed around such port facilities, because
they served important role closely linked with Mediterranean cities.
In the imperial regime, commercial functions were developed along with
the expansion of Roma, and the role of rivers became more decisive.
At the same time, necessity for a large port eliminated the importance
of the Emporium. In Fiumicino at the mouth of the Tevere River, a new
port was constructed and the Emporium became the second port for entering
the city. On the other hand, the landscape of the right bank area was
changed by the construction of large monuments along rivers. The monument
also had roles of monitoring and protecting the river.
The depopulation after the collapse of the Ancient Rome scaled down
the city. The major construction work was focused on churches. At the
same time, development works for residences of surrounding areas were
also encouraged. The pilgrims to Vatican who arrived at Fiumicino went
up the Tevere River by ship. Therefore, the Emporium and Teverina Island
were converted into welfare institution for pilgrims.
In the Middle Ages, the relationship between rivers and cities was
not significantly varied. In the city, towers and water mills were
frequently found. Life areas were increasingly concentrated around
rivers, for the purpose of defense. The rivers served roles for water
to drink, as well as for motive energy.
In the 15th century, the urban renovation plan of Bramante, by the
command of Pope, was implemented. Main streets on both banks composed
a linear and clear urban structure.
In the 16th century, Ripetta district developed as baotslip. Newly
built urban facilities on the left bank added the elements of Renaissance
to existing medieval urban structure. Fine landscape was stretching
toward the river. Views from terraces and gardens were taken into consideration,
using the Tevere River as a kind of stage.
In the 18th century, two symbolic landscapes can be seen on two ports:
Ripetta and Ripagrande. Ripetta had a boatslip with curved steps in
front of a church. The port facilities along with the buildings at
the back emphasize the symbolic effect of Ripagrande. Various decorations
for riverside spaces, e.g., the monument of Sant'Angelo Bridge were
made, as well as theaters along rivers. The present streets have the
names of theaters at the era.
As described above, the landscape within the city and urban space representing
the consciousness to water, had coexisted until the era of dyke construction
in the 19th century.
At present, the middle spaces between roads and rivers are utilized
for recreation, such as sport facilities. In the summer, the event
called EstateRoma took place around the Teverena Island, changing the
expression of the Tevere River. Furthermore, spaces for bicycles were
prepared aiming to create the linkage with water.
As a result, the riverside spaces for recreation have been developed
after the construction of high dykes. In other words, waterfront and
the inner city have been increasingly reevaluated and utilized.
01: Flood Damages]
[Roma 03: Port
04: Present Situation]