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  • Writer's pictureSofa Summits

River Cities – Making the Most of Urban Waterfronts

Many cities across the globe are situated on rivers or waterfronts, this all stems back to the strategic importance of cities growing close to a source of water and transport. Dock areas were traditionally situated in the heart of the city so that goods could be easily transported in and out. This all changed in the 1960’s and 70’s with the closing of many city centre docks in favour of larger ports on or near to the coast – cities have therefore been left with a lot of prime riverside real estate that can be utilised to add cultural and economic value to the city.

The River//Cities Foundation Platform is an organisation that has the development of these waterfront areas at the core of its mission, according to their website they aim to “increase the impact of culture on the sustainable development of urban waterfronts for the benefit of their citizens.”

This overall objective is broken down into 4 key objectives:

  1. to increase cultural activity in urban waterfront areas

  2. to encourage policy change and increase investment in cultural initiatives

  3. to generate cross-disciplinary collaboration

  4. to create capacity-building opportunities

The platform has a board that is made up of representatives from a number of different cities across Europe with the aim of promoting the sustainable development of waterfronts so that they are of benefit to all citizens.

We all know how nice it is to sit in an open area looking out onto a river on a warm summer day – this type of environment is vital for any city that want to be culturally alive. It is very easy for cities to sell off this prime land to developers for a large amount of money, but once that happens an opportunity to add a great new venue to the city is lost.

Projects such as River//Cities are of importance because they create a platform for knowledge sharing in the future development of waterside environments. Learning what has worked in different cities is a great way to learn what to do, but more importantly what not to do!

As mentioned at the start of this article rivers and waterfronts are at the heart of a lot of cities, so making the most of these areas should be of prime importance to city administrations. If you would like to read about specific projects that River//Cities has been involved in then feel free to check out their website:


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