The importance of waterfronts in urban revitalisation
In recent years the strategy plans that are shaping today’s cities have reflected a clear growth in interest in the waterfront, that borderline between city and water – be it river or sea. The new leisure economies are turning their attention to shorelines, harbours and riverbanks, reinventing the river imaginarium within the construction of the new city.
Bilbao is no exception. The Guggenheim Museum itself was sited precisely on the banks of the Nervión river estuary and subsequent development has continued to focus on the Abandoibarra area, with top architects from the global pantheon being invited to design buildings for the area with the idea of creating a series of meaningful landmarks, though the policy has sometimes lacked a sense of urban awareness or planning.
Just as the former site of a rail depot and container yard was to become the home for the Guggenheim museum, helping to economically reinvigorate the city of Bilbao, these waterfronts, the old freight quays of the industrial period have been turned into recreation and leisure areas for local people. This change has also helped create an urban imaginarium, as far removed as possible from the industrial past, in an attempt to generate a more friendly image. At the same time the authorities have shown little interest in preserving the city’s industrial heritage and the memory of the facilities that once occupied the waterfront.
Nonetheless, the rehabilitation of the waterfront has helped bring life back to the river – with levels of activity most of us only knew of from the reminiscences of our parents and grandparents.
nerei emotional intelligent had the great pleasure of forming part of this urban renaissance of the Nervion (Ibaizabal) river estuary, with the redevelopment of the Marzana Quay. The design, by Jose Luis Burgos and Juan Sádaba, head of nerei emotional intelligent, won an award in 2003 from the Board of Architects of the Basque Country and has been widely publicised as an example of best practise in waterfront development.