The WAN Waterfront 2015 Award celebrates and highlights projects that embrace and exploit the benefits of sites in proximity to water. Waterfront can refer to a large volume of water, whether it be a river, lake, canal, ocean bay, creek, marina or canal within urban landscape, with a noticeable contribution towards making the area functional, attractive, and sustainable.
This year’s jury panel were chosen for their unique insights and extensive experience within waterfront design. On board to judge this award was: Bryan Avery MBE, Principal of Avery Associates Architects, Maarten Buijs, Project Manager and Landscape Architect of West8 urban design & landscape architecture bv, Niels de Bruin, Landscape Architect and Partner of White Arkitekter, and Vishnu Anishetty, Lead Designer of Atkins.
The jury closely examined 25 longlisted projects. Analysing a number of factors: how the design addressed key challenges in the client brief; how the design advanced waterfront typology; and lastly, how the project managed to integrate with the urban community to facilitate wider access to waterside amenities.
After much discussion, the judges reached their six shortlisted projects that are listed below in no particular order.
Auckland Waterfront - North Wharf Promenade and Silo Park in New Zealand by Taylor Cullity Lethlean.
This scheme is a development that transforms a forlorn industrial and maritime area into a layered, mixed-use area. The first project of this redevelopment were public spaces centred on Jellicoe Harbour and Silo Park. Jellicoe Harbour has an engaging diversity of use, including large industrial container shipping, ferry services and a viable fishing industry. The harbour edge, North Wharf Promenade, is now a site of negotiation; with a bustling pedestrian and cycle promenade from which to witness and experience the waterfront industry.
The Silo Park forms a multi-programmed focus of a layered public space that facilitates a range of hybrid uses; passive recreation, event space, youth precinct, water filtration and retention, industry and folly. Maarten felt the scheme had very good use of existing amenities, commenting: “It adds to what was already there, it has made the environment richer and has given character for local residents.” Vishnu went on to say: “There’s a complicity to this project, it’s successful.” Niels agreed, saying: “It’s a very interesting project in terms of working with small means that create a big effect.”
Rowing center Bled / Sport pavilion as a spectator stand in Slovenia by MULTIPLAN ARHITEKTI d.o.o.
The impressive structure was built for the needs of the World Championships in rowing. All the judges were taken with the architectural beauty of the building. Bryan said: “It integrates beautifully with the landscape. It’s a jewel that’s been given to the community.” The facility is defined by two sections: the lower ‘open’ viewing platform with seats and a closed, uniform area, designated to commentators and a VIP room. Above the building is a walk-on roof terrace, providing an exclusive view of Bled. The minimal level of intervention is supplemented by a canvas roof, reaching from the covered part of the stands and erected only during summer events. “It’s a nice project, it’s been well executed”, commented Niels. Maarten went on to say that he felt it: “met the brief perfectly”. Bryan commented: “It’s refreshing and simple, it’s retrained and sets a completive mood for an afternoon by the water.”
Barangaroo Reserve in Australia by PWP Landscape Architecture.
This project is the re-creation of a headland adjacent to the Millers Point neighbourhood that restores the visual geography of Sydney Harbour. The Barangaroo Reserve transforms a huge expanse of empty concrete into a humane, usable space with ecological goals always in sight. Maarten was first to say: “I appreciate the effort to recreate the natural environment.” Bryan agreed, stating: “It’s nice how it goes back to its early origins. It’s difficult to achieve, but they’ve done it with verve. You can imagine being there.”
The project exemplifies the One Planet Living principles, which provide the framework and guidelines for sustainable development, from Zero Carbon and Zero Waste to Sustainable Water and Materials to Sustainable Land Use, Wildlife, and Transport.
Hasle Harbour Bath in Denmark by White Arkitekter.
Hasle Harbour is defined by its numerous breakwaters, which protect the harbour from the surge of the Baltic Sea, but also obscure the view to the horizon and restrict access to the sea. These contextual obstacles have driven the design of the new bath. As there was a conflict of interest with one of our judges (Niels de Bruin), Niels kindly stepped out of the room, leaving the remaining three members of the panel to analyse the project fairly.
The Harbour Bath is a floating platform placed within the network of breakwaters. From the horizontal plane of the platform, two stair formations project from that base - one reaching six meters into the air. A 25-meter ramp connects the bath to the shore. There’s a building at the ramp’s landing, containing a sauna, toilet, and outdoor changing area for members of the public. Maarten commented: “It’s very Scandinavian – it’s beautifully simple. It meets the brief well and connects the public with the water perfectly.”
Waterfront Park of Aiyi River in China by BLVD International.
The scheme is adjacent to the new area of the city of Yinchuan, surrounded by breath-taking green mountains and clear rivers. The proposed design concept focused on three objectives: integrating the city’s local features and character into the design, putting an emphasis on the ecology and a green approach, by highlighting low carbon consumption, and lastly, providing and caring for human needs. All the judges felt this was an interesting project. “When you look at how big it is and what it projects, it’s good. It must be a lovely walk” said Maarten, with Bryan going on to say: “It’s certainly advances the typology, this could be a great case study for anyone wishing to put walks out into the water. It’s a bold idea.”
Canary Wharf Crossrail in the United Kingdom by Foster + Partners.
Located in the waters of the north dock next to the HSBC tower and close to the residential neighbourhood of Poplar, the development’s new public spaces are conceived as an accessible, welcoming bridge between the two areas. The four levels of retail, roof garden, pavilions and station entrances are unified by a complex timber roof, which wraps around the building like a shell. Vishnu was quick to say: “It’s definitely unique.”
The spruce glulam beams are sustainably sourced and support ETFE cushions, which are filled with air and lighter than glass. The ETFE cushions, which are a highly insulating material, help to create a unique microclimate for the garden below, allowing the garden to be planted with some of the species that first entered Britain through the docks. When open at night, the building will glow, drawing visitors to use the public facilities and garden and creating a welcoming civic gateway to London’s growing commercial district. Bryan felt the project: “sets a benchmark in design - it’s pioneering.” Going on to say “I appreciate how technically difficult this is to achieve.”
Thank you to all involved in the WAN Waterfront 2015 Award and congratulations to the six finalists of this category. From this six, an overall winner will be announced on 27th October 2015.