Global exemplars

Learning from cities across the world

We believe it’s critical to use a local and global approach in the delivery of our major urban transformation projects. We’re looking to some of the greatest urban regeneration projects from across the globe, drawing on international expertise and the lessons already learnt in these cities, and applying this at a local level. Below are some of the global exemplars that we are referring to.

Nordhavn, Copenhagen

Currently Nordhavn (North Harbour) is a harbour and industrial area that is home to the city’s container terminal, fish harbour and market, and cruise liner quay.

The inner area is being transformed into a compact urban district with housing and commercial spaces built on piers and jetties, surrounded by canals, water basins and the open sea. There will be homes for 40,000 people and workspace for another 40,000. Current structures will be incorporated to create a strong visual identity and water-based activities will be at the heart of the area.

Over the next two decades the harbour itself is being extended by 100ha so it can continue as a functioning port. This includes a 1.1km quay, able to take three large cruise ships at the same time.

Kings Cross, London

The rich and varied history of King’s Cross as the meeting point of road, river and rail is a major influence on its modern redevelopment. More than 20 historic buildings and structures are being creatively refurbished and repurposed. Train stations, coal drops, gasholders, good sheds and even England’s first purpose-built gym are all being given a new lease of life.

In all, 27ha of land in central London are being redeveloped with new homes and streets, office and retail space, hotels, and educational facilities. It is expected 45,000 people will live work and study in the area. Ten new public squares are also being created.

"King’s Cross is a model of constructive conservation that captures the special quality of London as it has grown over the centuries.” - English Heritage

Hudson Yards, New York

A critical component of New York’s transit system, the Hudson Rail Yards opened in the 1980s near the western shore of midtown Manhattan. A mixed-use, high-density development is now being built over the rail lines. These lines will continue their vital function throughout construction and after completion.

In addition to five high-rise office towers, the site will feature shops, restaurants, residences, public open space, a primary school, a culture space and a hotel. Ultimately there will be over 1,600,000mof commercial and residential space.

It has been called the biggest real estate project in America’s history.

Kop van Zuid, Rotterdam

Located on the south bank of the Nieuwe Maas river, Kop van Zuid harbour was once the backbone of Rotterdam’s economy. However, as industry and port areas moved down river the area became a void, separating the south and the north of the city.

Working with private investors, the city council began transforming the area in the late 1980s. Housing with attractive water views was established to bring people in. The train line was moved underground and the iconic Erasmus Bridge connected the area with the northern shore of the city for the first time.

In addition to public and private housing, office buildings were built (including projects by international architects such as Norman Foster and Lorenzo Piano). A music theatre added to cultural diversity and university colleges for 10,000 students helped broaden the area’s functions.

Euroméditerranée, Marseilles

The largest urban renewal project in southern Europe, Euroméditerranée is reinvigorating 480ha at the heart of Marseilles. The project has three key areas. 

Cité de la Méditerranée includes 5km of waterfront and reopens the city to the sea. Cultural, training, scientific, recreational and service activities will be established, along with a new ferry terminal.

La Joilette has been transformed into liveable business district with housing and schools in addition to service sector businesses employing over 12,000 people.  

Saint-Charles Port d’Aix is renovating the area around the train station and creating a multi-modal hub connecting rail, buses and subways. The motorway is being moved back to create space for housing, shops, parks and public facilities.

HafenCity, Hamburg

By 2025 the HafenCity project will cover 157ha, making it one of the largest inner city development projects in Europe. For centuries this area of Hamburg had been a thriving port on the River Elbe, playing a significant role in Germany’s history and development.

The north bank of the Elbe, however, was unsuited to container operations and by the late 20th century the area fell into severe under use. Detailed investigations into the transformation of the area were undertaken in the 1990s and in 2000, the Hamburg Senate approved a master plan for the new inner-city district of HafenCity.

Now, after 13 years of construction, 2,000 people live there and 9,000 are employed by over 500 companies.

Ultimately HafenCity will blend an open waterfront with work, living, arts, leisure, shopping and education spaces. Landmark new buildings will include the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The development will be home to 12,000 residents and offer 40,000 jobs.

South Boston Waterfront

Originally a tidal marsh, this area was filled in the 1830s and became a bustling industrial area with piers, channels and wharves. However by the late 20th century it was used mainly for parking.

The 2000 South Boston Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan ensured the public had meaningful access to Boston Harbour along the waterfront and planned for a vital mixed-use neighbourhood that preserved and enhanced the industrial port.

A creative, technology and residential hub was created for the city, this area is also home to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Seaport World Trade Centre, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and a maritime park featuring walking trails. Housing includes apartments, condominiums, loft spaces in former warehouses, and affordable units for artists.

Canary Wharf, London

The urban renewal of Canary Wharf, on the Isle of Dogs in East London, has grown to become an economic and professional hub and London’s new business district.

In the early 1980s the UK Government established the London Docklands Development Corporation and designated the area ‘Enterprise Zone’ status, which created tax incentives to investors and developers. The first buildings were completed in 1991.

Over thirty years later, Canary Wharf is one of London’s two main financial centres covering almost 100ha and containing approximately 1,400,000m2 of office and retail space in 35 buildings. The area supports 100,000 jobs and is home to major banking and financial institutions, professional services firms and media companies. Further work is planned at Canary Wharf over the next 20 years that has potential to double the working population.

Roosevelt Island, New York

As part of Mayor Bloomberg’s 2011 Applied Sciences NYC initiative, Cornell Tech was awarded a 99-year lease to a 5ha site on Roosevelt Island to develop a $2bn (US) new applied sciences and engineering campus.

The successful consortium comprises the City of New York, Cornell Tech and its international partner Technicon-Israel Institute of Technology. Its selection was based on factors including:  the large scale and vision of their proposal; the long and impressive track-record of both institutions in generating applied science breakthroughs and spinning out new businesses; the financing capacity of the consortium; the focus of the consortium on the collaboration between academia and the private sector; and the overall capacity of the partnership to execute the project.

In addition to the Roosevelt Island site, the City of New York will provide $100m (US) in capital to assist with site infrastructure, construction, and related costs. When completed, the new Roosevelt Island campus will nearly double the number of full-time graduate engineering students enrolled in leading New York City Master's and Ph.D. programs. The site will accommodate up to 200,000m2 of development and approximately 2,000 students and 280 faculty members by 2037.

The project is expected to generate:

  • 20,000 construction jobs
  • 8,000 permanent jobs
  • $23bn (US) in economic activity over thirty years
  • 600 spin off companies and 30,000 jobs.

La Boqueria, Barcelona

La Boqueria is located directly on La Rambla, a massive tree-lined pedestrian zone that makes up Barcelona’s central boulevard, the historic market showcases the best and freshest food in Catalonia. It has been in existence since around the 13th century when it was an open air market, it was not recognized as an official market until 1826.

Today there are around 300 stalls across 6,000moffering meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and other foods. An estimated 70m people visited the market in 2013.

La Boqueria is a vital part of Barcelona’s economy and community, and it is accessible by public metro and bus.