Expert article
Edit 23 July 2021
by Birgit GEORGI UIA Expert

Finding the right design for nature-inclusive quays

Showing a map of the GreenQuays design
The mindset on designing and using public urban space has changed in Breda in the 1990’s. Earlier, the city had decided to cover completely the original river Mark in the city centre and use it for extending the road system and parking facilities. Now, the municipality has started to re-open the river, and on top, the quays will become much greener than they have ever been. Nature-inclusiveness is the central idea, but what exactly does that mean, and how could that be enabled when there are only little space and mostly vertical walls in the dense urban centre?

The following visualisation shows the design process to nature-inclusive quays (NIQ), and thereby:

  • the importance of an innovative partnership;

  • the success factors to achieve a visionary and rich design that is negotiated and agreed by all;

  • as well as the challenges on the way. 

 

Screenshot of the different visualisations describing the design process
Download the the design process in pictures

 

The lessons learned

... will help to upscale the project to other river sections and other parts of Breda and to inspire cities across the continent. The main lessons are: 

  • The design process itself, in which various partners that are specialised in different fields, collaborate actively has brought up additional ideas even at later stage. This should be appreciated as an asset rather than seeing it as disturbance. Open minds and a flexible approach will allow to take up additional ideas.

  • Bringing together these different partners in a climate of mutual respect and trying to find agreed solutions on different, sometimes conflicting ideas has much more enriched the design than if it would have been performed by the municipality’s team in isolation.

  • The project duration has shown to be rather short for research as complex new and innovative ideas are being developed and vegetation needs time to grow. The latter fact does only allow for collecting some but not final evidence that the selected solutions will work effectively. The monitoring needs to be continued after the UIA project ends.

  • The first three lessons point to the need of applying a flexible approach that promotes active learning during the project and a flexible design wherever possible to adjust it according to latest monitoring results.

  • Getting UIA funding and with that the commitment to find innovative solutions has truly boosted thinking among partners about alternative and creative solutions.

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