In many cases the redeveloped waterfront acts as a catalyst for the re-launch of the entire economy of a city, often raising its profile in an international context. Many cities – and even small towns – are regenerating their former port areas in order to enjoy these economic benefits, but also to improve the quality of life of their citizens. The most efficient way to proceed with redevelopment, and to understand the risks involved, is to learn from cities that have already completed their waterfront interventions. The WaRe Project will achieve this by means of a series of international exchanges which will provide opportunities for the sharing and comparison of know-how. Furthermore it will investigate the ‘state of the art’ in terms of best practices at national, European and international levels and use the results to propose methods and guidelines for the public bodies and decision makers involved in urban regeneration.


Waterfront transformations provide an opportunity to compare experiences in a context that is complex (in terms of the aims and parties involved), uncertain (in terms of the economy and markets) and important (in terms of the urban landscape). The sea, river or canal adjacent to the city provides both an active component and a physical limit for the process of transformation. This process must be approached with a broad perspective, taking into account the present and historical landscape, in order to understand both the current state of the urban context and the rehabilitation strategies that can be adopted. The waterfront case studies are diverse in terms of their dimensions, former activities, state of conservation and degree of mishandling, but they can all contribute to the strengthening of the identity of a site and to its rehabilitation. The contributions provided by each partner will take into account not only their specific waterfront area but also the physical and cultural links to its surroundings.

The spread of waterfront regeneration projects, be they modest and simple or ambitious and complex, can restore the symbolic importance of the dialogue between urban building and the nearby water. Each place is defined by its unique geography and the morphology of its surrounding coast, and this variety leads to many different ways of living at an urban scale and of managing waterfront areas.

The WaRe Partnership proposes to develop cooperation and intercultural awareness on waterfront regeneration issues through the analysis of the most interesting experiences and case-studies currently at different stages of development in Europe. The Partnership will provide an opportunity for all its members (and, at a later stage, to individuals and organisations) to improve their knowledge, awareness and expertise in the waterfront regeneration field.

The objective of the WaRe Project is to define a set of best practices, based on research work and case studies, that can be used for future waterfront transformations.

The aim is to identify which methodologies are best able to respect the local urban situation, especially for smaller towns seeking to exploit the potential that the redevelopment of their waterfront has for renewing the entire urban area. In fact, by re-examining waterfront redevelopments around the world, it will be possible to define a new and more attractive urban environment for the 21st century.

Because urban renewal involves not just physical infrastructures but also communities (the impact on the environment has a direct effect on society), the WaRe Partnership will invite the public to be part of its network in order to have the widest possible perspective of this complex transformation process.

To encourage the partners and their communities to be actively involved in this practical learning process, the project will propose a number of exchange workshops which will focus on:

  • urban development, economic planning and building regulations;
  • the stakeholders’ point of view;
  • successful processes and outputs – flexibility, interaction and creativity.

The WaRe Project will provide for the international exchange of its partners. This will allow them to see, first-hand, the methodologies and protagonists involved in the waterfront regeneration processes. These will then be analysed, compared, verified, collated and organised in order to create a practical digital ‘tool kit’, able to provide useful information and suggestions to all those involved at different levels in the field of urban transformation.

A comparative approach will be taken in which the most successful aspects from each case study will be identified; this will lead to the proposal of a strategic plan of action based on best practices.