How a city's waterfront can be revived

Sassoon Dock, one of the oldest docks in Mumbai, is set for modernisation as part of a planned redevelopment of the city's docklands.  Photo: Reuters
Sassoon Dock, one of the oldest docks in Mumbai, is set for modernisation as part of a planned redevelopment of the city's docklands. Photo: Reuters
Both Dunedin and Mumbai, India, have expressed a desire to develop their waterfronts in an attempt revitalise those parts of their cities. We look at five cities around the world who revived their waterfronts visually and economically.

Mumbai is about to unveil an ambitious plan to redevelop its docklands, sprawled across 752 hectares along a 14km stretch of waterfront.

The proposed redevelopment is the biggest opening up of land in the city since the since the redevelopment of about 600 acres of textile-mill lands in the heart of Mumbai in the 1990s.

A blueprint for the redevelopment of Dunedin's harbourside, prepared by Damien van Brandenburg, of Architecture Van Brandenburg has piqued the interest of many Dunedin residents and officials after the proposal went public in November last year.  

Here is a look at the revival of docks in five other cities that could serve as a model for Mumbai and Dunedin.

BARCELONA

The Spanish city used the 1992 Summer Olympics to redevelop its waterfront, demolishing old warehouses and industrial buildings and creating 3km of beachfront and a modern marina. New housing blocks were built, public spaces were refurbished and the area began to attract students, artists and lately, migrants.

People at Rambla del Mar, Barcelona, Spain. Photo: Getty Images
People at Rambla del Mar, Barcelona, Spain. Photo: Getty Images

LONDON

When the Thames shipping business moved downstream to Tilbury, more than 2000 hectares of port facilities were left derelict. The London Docklands Development Corporation was set up to ensure long-term social and economic regeneration. The "Docklands" is now made up of offices, shops, housing, leisure facilities and transport links, despite criticism that the regeneration favoured businesses.

The financial district Canary Wharf in London. Photo: Getty Images
The financial district Canary Wharf in London. Photo: Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO

The city has served as a port since its founding in 1863. A long-term project to redevelop the port was launched in 1997, and is still a work in progress, with the active participation of residents and businesses. The 12-km stretch incorporates a continuously walkable waterfront, ample public spaces, retail spaces and adaptations to climate change.

The sculpture CUPID'S SPAN by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, was built in 2003 along the Rincon Park area on Embarcadero on San Francisco's waterfront. Photo: Getty Images
The sculpture CUPID'S SPAN by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, was built in 2003 along the Rincon Park area on Embarcadero on San Francisco's waterfront. Photo: Getty Images

SINGAPORE

Port activities began at the Singapore River in the early years of the city's founding in 1819. During the 1970s, as port activities were moved out, the government decided to retain the old façade along the river, ensuring the shop houses and godowns along Boat Quay and Clarke Quay were not only preserved, but enhanced, leading to a vibrant residential, commercial and civic district. The city similarly redeveloped old port land in the southern waterfront area.

eople sit on the waterfront as sunlight shines on the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore. Photo: Reuters
People sit on the waterfront as sunlight shines on the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore. Photo: Reuters

SYDNEY

From the 1800s, Darling Harbour was the working port for Sydney, home to shipyards, factories, warehouses and crowded slums. After the last goods train departed Darling Harbour in 1984, a plan was hatched to redevelop the former railyards and wharves into recreational and commercial facilities. Four years later, the area was opened up to the public as an as entertainment and shopping precinct.

A view along the waterfront at Darling Harbour, Sydney. Photo: Getty Images
A view along the waterfront at Darling Harbour, Sydney. Photo: Getty Images

POTENTIAL FOR DUNEDIN

The idea to develop Dunedin's harbourfront was prepared by Damien van Brandenburg, of Architecture Van Brandenburg and envisages the redevelopment of the basin into a stunning array of new signature buildings and public spaces, including a marine research centre, office spaces, an art gallery and cultural centre, and a low-rise hotel.

Architecture Van Brandenburg's proposal for development of the Steamer Basin area. Photo:...
Architecture Van Brandenburg's proposal for development of the Steamer Basin area. Photo: Animation Research

Sources: www.portdebarcelona.cat; portcities.org.uk; urban-hub.com; Singapore Ministry of National Development; gallery.records.nsw.gov.au)

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