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  • Writer's pictureBridgette Macilwaine

Resilient Waterfront Regeneration

From an isolated uninviting residential area to a connected, resilient and biodiverse waterfront offering the community and business a prosperous future. The series of nature focused, multi-functional living and working areas offer cultural, educational and social opportunities, enhancing local biodiversity, connection to the waters edge and promoting local maritime activities.

This vibrant regeneration scheme re-introduces the community and residents to the water’s edge while retaining the working docks and water sports areas which honours the unique industrial heritage and materiality of the site.

The dynamic and biodiverse landscape design brings together environmental, social and cultural issues which aim to enhance the lives of those living and working here as well as supporting biodiversity and water management. The nature focused green zones and sustainable drainage components, are designed holistically into the scheme with residential units, workshops, restaurants, pop up cafes, communcal spaces, natural play, art galleries and watersports activities.

Main design elements:

  • Floating wetlands and walkways;

  • Flood alleviation and SuDS scheme to include detention basins, ponds, and swales;

  • Wildflower meadows, native and non native adaptive species;

  • Varying plant and tree species enhance the sites local biodiversity;

  • A multiuse space for events/markets/sports activities;

  • Natural play and education zones;

  • Additional gallery, art and creative spaces;

  • Pedestrian and cycle routes connect through to the city centre;

  • F&B, retail and office space;

  • Retaining the working docks, shipyard and promoting maritime activities;

  • Private and communal areas for seating, relaxing, contemplation, and wildlife observation.  

Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS)

A sustainable drainage system has been incorporated across the entire site, designed to capture and deal with all surface run off and building roof water on site. A detailed strategy has been developed with the philosophy of allowing the water to be visible as much as possible by using swales, attenuation basins, ponds, detention basins and bioretention planters alongside buildings. This allows these elements to be used as a feature within the landscape, and as a means of increasing the biodiversity on site and adding visual aesthetics to the public spaces.

The site has been broken down into sub‐catchments to calculate the volumes and discharge rates

required. The system has been designed to attenuate and treat water at source wherever possible, these elements are then connected to secondary and tertiary SuDS elements to further cleanse the water and provide long term water storage.

Natural play and education areas

The sustainable drainage elements, green spaces and floating wetlands offer varying zones for natural play and education across all age ranges. These spaces have been designed to encourage exploration, education, and enthusiasm.

These elements include:

  • Wetland viewing and education platforms;

  • Waterfront education centre;

  • Natural play zones for varying ages;

  • Resilient planting combinations;

  • Open areas for events and gatherings;

  • Undulating lawn for play and relaxation;

  • Insect hotels, bird boxes, and log piles support local biodiversity

  • Opportunities to learn in the workshops, art spaces and boat dockyard.

Floating wetlands

  • A wide selection of plants can be chosen to suit the requirements for the creation of the required wildlife habitat or aesthetic enhancement of the waterscape.

  • Buoyancy of islands can be increased to carry heavy loads such as driftwood, trees or sculptures.

  • The extended root structure beneath the water provides a biological matrix, which supports good water quality and provides food for fish.

  • Islands are cross braced and built to marine engineering standards for a long working life.

  • Thermo-fused tough floats are durable and UV resistant (no Styrofoam or PVC used).

The site previously consisted of several timber shipping yards as it was the main trade centre with the Baltic, Canada and Russia. Current layout includes enclosed residential blocks, the Marina, several boat yards, and art and creative studios.

The Waterfront Regeneration Design references the sites history within the proposed architecture which is designed to reflect linear timber shipping yards, roof lights and elongated linear windows allow an abundance of light into the proposed buildings, with each block separated by planted safe walkable streets.


Thanks for reading, any questions, we would love to hear from you!


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