Context 151 - September 2017

22 C O N T E X T 1 5 1 : S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 7 Regenerating historic ports Speaker: Peter de Figueiredo, architect and historic buildings advisor Peter de Figueiredo’s talk focused on the regeneration of historic waterfronts. Historically, the town and the port would have formed a united settlement.The 19th- century changes in technology, goods and transport brought a physical and visual barrier between the town and port through walls, railway lines or warehouses. In the 20th century larger ships and space require- ments moved the ports outside the cities, leading to the abandonment of historic infrastructure. The need for residential, business and public space at the end of the century stimulated the recovery of these inacces- sible areas to ‘recapture the front line for the people’. Some early examples were developed in the ports of Baltimore, Boston, Sydney and London Docklands. In the 1990s, cultural tourism became a key ele- ment in the regeneration of some derelict waterfronts, such as by the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. In Hamburg, Germany, the new Hafen city has connected the previously gated port into the city with new streets, buildings and public transport. A public development agency has been created in collaboration with private developers and through architectural competitions. The new neighbourhoods are based on medium-rise buildings that blend with the old city, with the exemp- tion of a tall building at one edge and the construction of an extraordinary concert hall above a warehouse as landmarks. In Malmö, Sweden, the Western Harbour has been developed as a ‘City of Knowledge’, with strong public transport links with the city centre, linking the centre of Malmö while retaining its own historic identity. In the UK something similar had been achieved at Edinburgh and Leith. In Liverpool, the conversion of the Albert Dock into mixed uses was not initially connected to the city. Later, the building of new museums and the increase in the number of visitors brought attention back to the former dockland. The Liverpool 1 and Chevasse Park scheme created links with Albert Dock, and previous heritage-at-risk areas were now at the centre of the world heritage site. The new Liverpool Waters master plan has recently been granted outline planning permission for a mixed development of residential and commercial uses, and a ferry terminal. Forty-two per cent of the land lies within the world heritage site, while the rest is in the buffer zone. Unesco believes the develop- ment, especially the tall buildings, would diminish the outstanding universal value for which the site was given world heritage status. Consequently the city is now on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The audience expressed concern about potential loss of world heritage status and asked what actions had been undertaken to avoid it. De Figueiredo, a heritage consultant to the £6 mil- lion scheme’s developer, the Peel Group, said that detailed master planning had reduced the original number and heights of tall buildings and remodelled the layout, but he confirmed that the current planning permission could not be rescinded. He said that suc- cessful historic waterfront regeneration would need to ‘revalue the city as a complex urban context’, able to extend the city into the port. ICOMOS argues that Liverpool has a horizontal skyline that should be A computer-generated image of the proposed Liverpool Waters development (Photo: Peel Land and Property)