Urban waterfronts are constantly in flux, with temporal qualities that engage all our senses. Yet waterfront redevelopments are often characterised by the removal of the very qualities that attract us to these places.
Waterfronts in the post industrial city are the target of extensive urban regeneration and are a vessel to facilitate a city’s revitalisation. They are sites of significant public and private investment and are seen to play a critical role in the cultural positioning and branding of a city. The procurement model of waterfront redevelopment, inherent economic imperatives and elite ideology have often translated to an erasure of site conditions and particularities of place. In addition, the international vocabulary of public realm design is often brought to these spaces as a signifier of revitalisation and regeneration.
This has resulted in homogeneity of urban typologies and spatial experience across site, region and country. This tabula rasa approach to regeneration and design is challenged by our practice-based research, which examines how the production of public space via waterfront redevelopment can meet commercial imperatives within a design approach and language that embraces the intrinsic qualities of site, its morphology, archaeology and temporal qualities.
Via extensive waterfront typological and design studies, and a specific design case study in Auckland, New Zealand, we have examined how revitalisation can be achieved whilst embracing, retaining and reinterpreting authentic site qualities.