Between rising water levels and global migration to cities, architects and designers need to critically reimagine the relationship between coastal landscapes and public space. Cities are facing entirely new risks and environmental conditions. Resiliency, infrastructure, and ecology are increasingly common terms, reflecting the growing demand to address the spatial and formal challenges faced by cities worldwide. Rethinking boundaries and edges, designers have unique opportunities to help shape public understanding of these conditions through waterfront parks.
Embracing the shoreline and raising awareness of our oceans’ dynamic nature, waterfront parks straddle the liminal spaces between cities and the sea. While coastal cities often include beaches and expansive areas to enjoy the water, comprehensive and flexible design plans are rare. The following designs draws together a number of waterfront parks that explore novel spatial strategies at various scales. With contemporary landscape approaches and engaging civic amenities, these projects celebrate culture while proposing new ways to experience our urban waterfronts.
Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park Phase II transforms 5.5 acres of an abandoned industrial landscape into a new waterfront park. Phase II of the park begins south of 54th Avenue and wraps around Newtown Creek to complete the full vision of Hunter’s Point South Park initiated with the Phase I park, resulting in nearly 11 acres of a continuous waterfront park. A trail meanders along the causeway, elevated slightly above the river, a stroll of shifting perspectives of the skyline and close-ups of the marsh habitat along the river’s edge and protects nearly 1.5 acres of newly established wetlands.
Located in the geographic center of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (the Greater Bay Area) and northwest of Shenzhen, Bao'an District has undergone a gradual transformation and upgrade process into a new center of the international metropolis from a traditional manufacturing area, which also acts as the core to both interlinks the east and west coasts of the Pearl River Estuary and enhances the integrated development of the Greater Bay Area. Shenzhen Bao'an Waterfront Cultural Park (the Park) integrates coastal leisure, cultural tourism, artistic experiences, and ecological workplaces.
Situated on 7.4 acres between City Hall, the Interstate-10 freeway, and Santa Monica’s iconic palm tree lined Ocean Avenue and beachfront, Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square transformed a derelict, asphalt lot into a lush landscape of rolling hills, swales, Mediterranean meadow gardens, water features, viewing pavilions, public restrooms, and active urban spaces for the City of Santa Monica. Swooping pathways and walks openly connect the western neighborhoods to the beach, ocean, and landmark pier.
Envisioned as a new urban model for sculpture parks, this project is located on Seattle’s last undeveloped waterfront property – an industrial brownfield site sliced by train tracks and an arterial road. The design connects three separate sites with an uninterrupted Z-shaped “green” platform, descending forty feet from the city to the water, capitalizing on views of the skyline and Elliott Bay, and rising over existing infrastructure to reconnect the urban core to the revitalized waterfront.
Little Island is a public park that shelters three new performance venues on the Hudson River. Designed as a haven for people and wildlife, it is a green oasis, held above the water by sculptural planters, and located just a short walk across a gangplank from Manhattan’s Lower West Side. In contrast to the flat streets of Manhattan, the design team wanted to create a new topography for the city, which could rise up to shape a variety of spaces.
Since its inception in the late 1930s, the central promenade of the young Bauhaus city of Tel Aviv played a key role in establishing the ever-changing connection between the city and its shore. In all of the various phases of its life, the elevated boardwalk acted as a border between the city and its beach. The current renovation project aimed to transform this historical blockade by creating a new continuous interface that enables free pedestrian flow to and from the sandy beach, throughout the city's central waterfront.
Aarhus Harbor Bath is an extension of BIG’s current development plan for Aarhus’ new waterfront neighborhood named O4. Similar to BIG’s first harbor bath in Copenhagen from 2002 which has come to define the Danish capital as one of the most livable cities in the world, Aarhus Harbor Bath and adjacent Beach Bath provide new ways for the public to enjoy the water in all seasons. The harbor bath zig-zags gently into the island, extends all the way out into the harbor pool and back again.