New visions on waterfronts

The second edition of the BIA Urban Regeneration Forum focuses on urban water scenarios. One of the on going main transformations of our cities is the waterfront redevelopment.

The expiration of the lifetime of harbour and industrial facilities leaves strategic areas for urban redevelopment and opens new perspectives onto urban regeneration. The new vacant areas are usually large, complex and filled with conflict. The transformation of this liberated soil requires processes over decades. Long term leases, the presence of toxic waste, the need of alternative port and industrial areas lead to the need of large investments and convert these urban core areas into true challenge for urban regeneration.

As a continuation of the previous edition, we wonder what role do these scenarios of water play in the naturalization of the city. Usually urban waterfronts are artificial sites gained to watercourses. When the redevelopment is undertaken, usually the intensification of the occupation is assumed. What are the alternatives? Is it possible the land assign to nature by retreat of the urbanized surface? What are the advantages to be gained in terms of environmental quality and safety against flooding?

The BIA2 would like to study how to undertake these transformation developments and learn from the experience the keys for the becoming challenges. The aim is to define what innovative tools should be adopted. In the urban regeneration discussion today adaptability is the central issue. The concepts of flexibility and versatility determine the panorama of the adaptable. These parameters are often included by standard solutions that derive to globalized neutrality. We wonder in what way this indifferently applied repertoire contributes to resolve the casuistry of each specific site. The BIA2 would like to decode the method to overcome the standard pattern solutions with a clear dependency on formal novelty.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of the tabula rasa approach? What about reuse? What criteria should be adopted to determine the existing elements that deserve to remain? If the urban character and identity are built on memory and collective heritage, how important is preserving the past of these areas in their recovery? The BIA2 proposes a debate on the best practices to interpret the underlying symbolism of each specific city and the tools for its preservation in the renovated physical environment.

The management of the waterfronts redevelopment needs the consensus amongst many agents (administration, public entities, enterprises, investors). The collaboration between public and private sectors in these long-term processes guarantees the result quality and the success in terms of social equality and integration, basic principles of urban regeneration. How is inclusive leadership promoted? How is participation encouraged as an element of sustainability? Accessibility and urban vitality based on free use and functionally diverse program are guarantors of a balanced renewal. The BIA2 would like to dissect the management and programming keys for the transformation of these areas of opportunity.

All these questions are faced without ignoring sustainability and efficiency in the use of an essential resource such as water (treatment, reuse, banks of use…). The BIA2 proposes as well to discuss about diagnoses of water uses, agendas and trends in the impact of the average water availability in different urban locations. This approach is closely related to the previous ones, since depending on how we define the urban development it results a concrete consequent way of resource consumption.