Everything flows

The architecture studio Populous has recognised the potential of water and is designing a potential living space around the banks of America’s rivers: Riverfront Recreation. Still just a vision – it may soon become reality.

Water glistening in the sun. Birds screeching. A light breeze brushing through your hair and making you feel like you can taste the air. An atmosphere that inevitably feels like a holiday – regardless of whether you’re strolling along Vienna’s Danube Canal after work or strolling along Valencia’s harbour promenade. Water calms, relaxes the mind and washes away the daily grind; it brings people together, because where there is water, there is life.

Eddy Tavio, architect at architecture studio Populous, sees potential precisely there and has designed ‘Riverfront Recreation’ in a concept study. The concept study focuses on the American riverfront, which is to be revitalised with sustainable cultural value and public infrastructure. Inspired by ships moored at the pier, buildings are integrated into the river promenade. ‘Photographs of a place that only exists in my imagination,’ writes Eddy Tavio under his Instagram post.

Gebäude am Flussufer aus der Konzeptstudie
This is what an American riverbank could look like in the future.

“Throughout American history, rivers have long played a useful role – as engines of industry and as transport routes. However, as we stand on the cusp of a new era, it is time to redefine the purpose of these riverbanks. Transforming utilitarian spaces into vibrant, beautiful places is not just a design challenge, but a cultural imperative that can reshape the fabric of our cities,’ explains Eddy Tavio.

Riverfront Recreation: Back to the roots

Riverbanks played a particularly important role during the Industrial Revolution, which began in 1800 and lasted a whole century, heralding the Golden Twenties at its end. They formed the centres of trade and industry, with factories and warehouses shaping the landscape around the rivers. They made the economy grow (or rather: flow). There is a remarkable amount of potential in so much water – but unfortunately the economic visions ignored the potential of these habitats as places of community for cultural exchange.

Ein Gebäude am Flussufer
In the concept study, buildings were designed that do not yet exist but could look like this.

Eddy Tavio wants to revitalise this potential with Riverfront Recreation. Because the world is changing and the planning and design of cities is changing with it. So it’s time to look to the past to plan for the future. “Transforming our riverbanks into beautiful, accessible spaces is an opportunity to weave together the threads of our shared history, culture and identity. By creating waterfront parks, promenades and cultural centres, we can foster a sense of belonging and connection and invite people from all walks of life to engage with their surroundings and each other,’ says the designer.

Life by the water

And there are already a number of examples that show that such ideas are not just pipe dreams. Paris, for example, has recognised the potential of the Seine, while London has turned the south bank of the Thames into the South Bank. From art facilities such as museums and theatres to open-air events, restaurants and bars. In short: riverbanks that have developed into hotspots of the cultural scene. Anyone travelling here really does have their finger on the pulse.

Eddy Tavio’s ideas are many and varied.
Greenery plays a decisive role.

It is about more than turning urban living spaces into aesthetic lifestyle locations Rather, they should become places of community. People should come together here, with diversity and interaction taking centre stage – the very concept of diversity. The key to urban life therefore lies in its riverbanks and their potential to transform them into dynamic cultural landscapes. Potential that Eddy Tavio has recognised and a great incentive to turn fiction into reality.

Text: Eva Schroeder