The Sustainable Design and Renewal of Water’s Edge Public Spaces in the Asia-Pacific Region: Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore

  •  Mabel John    
  •  Steffen Lehmann    
  •  Alpana Sivam    


Emerging water’s edge public spaces display distinct characteristic features and stand apart from historic ones. In analysing these emerging spaces it becomes clear that there has been a shift towards enhancing environmental connections while: 1) encouraging mixed use functionality; 2) focusing on heritage preservation and adaptive re-use; 3) applying green urbanism principles; 4) implementing technological connectivity, maintaining and establishing connections to urban networks; 5) allowing avenues of incomplete urbanism; and 6) harnessing renewable energies in the public domain. Water’s edge developments are not only significant locally but are a key to the identity and perceived image of the selected cities. The rediscovery of the image of a city and economic benefits of tourism are the drivers of the development of any city’s waterfront or riverfront. This paper presents the outcomes of a pilot study that compared three water’s edge public spaces in Asia-Pacific cities at different stages of their lifecycles. It analyses and discusses factors in the sustainable design and renewal of such spaces. The aim of the overall study, that this paper is the first part of, is the consideration of sustainability and models of sustainability evaluation in a comparative urbanism framework for Water's Edge Public Spaces.
This research suggests that architectural science input should be increased during the initial stages of design, to ensure continual links with biological and seasonal cycles, including other environmental processes over time. Results are presented within the context of changing relationship dynamics, understanding underlying subservient associations established due to colonisation, with a deep-seated realisation of the valued and reliant social, architectural and cultural relationships between the East and the West.

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