Acta Univ. Agric. Silvic. Mendelianae Brun. 2012, 60, 261-268
Published online 2013-03-30

Influence of urban waterfront appearance on public space functions

Iva Hradilová

Ústav zahradní a krajinářské architektury, Mendelova univerzita v Brně, Valtická 337, 691 44 Lednice, Czech Republic

Although the issue of urban waterfront is not entirely new, it still represents a very vivid topic. Urban waterfronts have for long been standing in the forefront of many architects and organizations, who are aware of their value and the potential a watercourse carries within the urban interior. A watercourse is an interconnecting element between the urban development and the surrounding countryside and urban waterfronts are the intermediaries of communication. It is exactly in their area where the city - a purely human product with an inner structure and order defined by humans - meets the element of water, which is a purely natural component.
What influences the urban structure most is, however, the presence of water in its very basic form i.e. in the form of a river. Its significance and effect on the public space and the inner relations within the body of the settlement vary with the size and the width of the flow, character of the waterfront, architectural layout of the riverbanks and its current utilization. Urban river works as a communication element which meets with the natural features. It seems to be unnatural to define a waterfront space like mono-functional site. This space denies the very essence of the waterfront and the city’s inhabitants appear as unattractive. In this case the very attractive element of water is unable to urban residents to attract together. In general, the quality of the public space is determined by the degree of its utilization by a wider group of inhabitants. It is the inhabitants themselves who imprints the concept of a public space to empty urban spaces.
The present form of urban waterfronts is a result of the historical development, attitude and mental state of the society. The architectural appearance of not only the waterfront but also all public spaces is a reflection of the current social values. It gives evidence about the character of the society, the present economic system, the state and thinking of the contemporary era.


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