Riva Split Waterfront by 3LHD Architects, in Split, Croatia. Split lies on the Dalmatia coast and its former name used to be Aspalathos after the plant Calicotome villosa. It is the second largest city in Croatia; an important characteristic of Split is that a central part of the city used to be Diocletian’s Palace, which was gradually integrated into the urban tissue. The city water front is called Riva. The zone along the sea and especially the part before the Palace façade towards the sea has always played an important role in the city life. Riva is the place for meeting, walking, hosting public events and enjoy the city and the sea.
Riva Split Waterfront
Winning the Competition Given this entire heavy historical and social context, the competition held in 2005 for redesigning the Riva had a rather difficult purpose. The first prize was awarded to 3LHD architects who managed to transform the Riva into a contemporary, vivid public place for the citizens and the city visitors to enjoy . The competition program required a Master Plan for the entire area of Riva which covers 24,707 m². In the process, however, it was decided that the first phase would be renovating only the central, purely pedestrian part of Riva which is approximately 14,000 m².The Use of Historical Measurments Riva stands between the elaborate wall of Diocletian’s Palace and the sea. The architects have opted to integrate the historical context to their design. They have used concrete, paving slabs measuring 1,50 x 1,50m which is the measure of a full stride of two steps in Ancient Rome, the so-called “paces”. A Mixed Use Area for all to Enjoy The paving resembles a mosaic made of white and grey variations. This shade alternation resembles the ripples of the Dalmatian sea. The simplicity of the design balances the complexity of function. The Riva waterfront is the beating heart of community activity. Its’ spans 250 meters long and 55 meters wide, suffice to accommodate all kinds of social events, promenade by day, parade by night, the site of sport events, religious processions, festivals, celebrations and political rallies. A City Extending into the Sea On top of that, activity continues over water with sailboats docked along the promenade, creating the sense that the city extends towards the sea. The paved surface accommodates all the possible versions of community life. Urban elements and infrastructures, such as benches, planting beds, dust bins, luminaires and shading shelters become part of this horizontal, modular system. From Shade Cover to Projection Screen The open-air cafes and shops on the Northern part, along the Waterfront, had never been the object of architectural design as a whole. The design team managed to establish a common vocabulary along all the shop facades and open-air areas. They have designed a unique architectural element that resembles a ship mast. This vertical, modular system accommodates the shelters for all the shops along the project. It can be easily removed when not necessary. Also, it can be rotated to generate a projection screen in the evening.
Planting at Riva Split Waterfront
There used to be three rows of Palm trees along the Riva before the intervention. The design scheme has integrated the existing planting elements to the new design by restoring the shape of the planting beds around the trees, according to the concept. There have created numerous planted areas along the project, filled with shrubs and flowers of the Mediterranean flora. There is Lavender, Rosemary, Salvia, Oregano and Thyme among the selected species. There are even some Aspalathos plants, in order to symbolize Split’s former name. The variation in texture and flowering, as well as the beautiful scents, enhance the spatial experience.“Designing the void” If there is a definition of landscape architecture it would be “Designing the void”, which, I believe, is what fascinates all the professionals in this field. 3lhd architects did exactly that, they have given shape, rather than created, to something that was already there, yet it was neither clear nor coherent. This makes the project remarkable and gives it a certain, added value. One Minor but Important Criticism However, if there is something to be sceptic about, that would be the planting scheme. I could not help but think that the newly introduced species though very consistent with each other, they have little to do with the already existing Palm trees. One could argue that this is not the first time we have seen such a heterogeneous combination of plants. On the other hand, ecosystems own their strength both in variety and compatibility. The Riva Waterfront is a vibrant, interesting public space that seems to be very well received by the Split residents. It has maintained and enhanced the area’s dynamics by providing a new context for city life to emerge and develop. Full Project Credits: Project Name: Riva Split Waterfront Designers: 3LHD (Saša Begović, Marko Dabrović, Tanja Grozdanić Begović, Silvije Novak, Irena Mažer) + Ines Hrdalo Construction: 2006 – 2007 Location: Obala Hrv. Narodnog preporoda, Split, Croatia Area: 14053 m2 Cost: 9.000.000 EUR Design of urban equipment: Numen/For Use – Sven Jonke , Nikola Radeljković, Jelenko Hercog Client: The City of Split Show on Google Maps
- Urban Design by Alex Krieger
- The Urban Design Handbook: Techniques and Working Methods (Second Edition) by Urban Design Associates
Article by Eleni Tsirintani Return to HomepagePublished in Blog