Urbanie & Urbanus

Decoding the components of waterfronts people love

Chong Wang

Managing Principal, Hassell

, Camilla Siggaard Andersen

Research Lead, Hassell

, Michelle Zhu

Principal, Hassell

, Richard Mullane

Principal, Hassell

and  Damian Holmes

Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA)



Waterfronts have become integral to urban landscapes globally, representing both a city's identity and its inhabitants' well-being. Their significance extends to ecological and natural systems, making their design, management, and enjoyment pivotal for creating livable and resilient cities. Defining a world-class waterfront involves understanding the elements that contribute to sustainable, transformative urban spaces while addressing the challenges of a changing climate.

To assess the success of waterfronts, a framework of six essential qualities has been developed. These qualities, devised by Hassell Research Lead Camilla Siggaard Andersen, encompass originality, compactness, diversity, networking, dynamism, and regeneration. By integrating these qualities, vibrant and environmentally responsible urban destinations are crafted, aligning with global best practices in urban design. The interplay of these qualities creates captivating spaces that enrich people's lives.

Hassell has actively engaged in revitalizing waterfront areas worldwide. Regardless of scale, the common threads of resilience and connectivity underscore the success of these projects. Notable examples include the West Bund in Shanghai, Colma Creek in San Francisco, and Longgang River in Shenzhen. Each project's unique blend of the essential qualities contributes to their accomplishments, illustrating the synergy required to ensure thriving waterfronts.