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Lagune water front: Abidjan


Collaborating with local architects Koffi&Diabate, DOSarchitects ventured into redeveloping the capital of Ivory Coast, Abidjan - a historical city into a vibrant hub of leisure, sport and culture for the city of Abidjan – a beacon for the citizens of the city and a statement to the world beyond.The inspiration for this development comes from other exemplary waterfront cities; Barcelona, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro. All of these cities have recently undergone successful redevelopments to their waterfronts and are therefore great precedents. The main ambition of this project is to create an identity for Abidjan’s waterfront, spearheading the city’s development and ensuring this area can be fully used by all of Abidjan’s people. The Lagune Waterfront will turn the capital’s waterfront into a place its citizens can use, enjoy and be proud of for generations to come, as well as being an iconic project capable of attracting tourism and generating jobs. The project brief called for the creation of a series of public spaces and buildings to be placed along the length of the Baie de Cocody. As well as this the brief also called for a pedestrian link that would tie all the public spaces together, connecting the Plateau to Cocody. The basis for this project was to achieve both elements of the brief with one single gesture. As the city is surrounded by water, it is this which provides the source of design inspiration. Fluid and flowing, a series of ‘water drops’ have been created along the edge of the city, each ‘drop’ marking an event within the programme. While the Main Square and pedestrian plaza is one ‘waterdrop’, the private Marina is another, as are the Botanical Gardens, the Museum and other public spaces throughout. These structures reflect and underline both the water beyond and the vibrancy of the city, bringing both these elements together in harmony. To connect these ‘water drops’ a series of walkways have been designed to envelop the ‘drops’, bringing them together in a free flowing and organic language. In this way, the new waterfront will create a continuous pedestrian connection between the Houphouet Boigny Bridge in the Plateau and all along the Baie de Cocody until its conclusion at the southern tip of Cocody. The master plan creates a series of new public spaces, events and buildings for the city which currently does not exist, all of which will breathe a new life into the capital beyond the scope of the project itself. The raised walkway has been designed as a continuous promenade throughout the new waterfront. It consists of a 12m-wide pedestrian strip with flows for runners, walkers and cyclists alike and features trees along its entire length to provide shade as well as furniture such as benches and lamp posts along its entire length. This is a new space for the citizens of Abidjan to explore and enjoy a place for people to relax, learn, run, walk and play in the very heart of the nation’s capital city! The north area of the site is currently a large tropical swamp, already undergoing a depollution scheme to drain all the polluted water. This new drain will run southwards along the Boulevard de Gaulle, and will be concealed by the new walkway being proposed in this project. The north area of the Lagune project will house the 2 largest ‘water drops’ of the scheme, the Botanical Gardens and park as well as the Museum of Civilisation and the Aquarium. These will also be two of the most iconic aspects of the project, two new developments which, both from a design and content perspective, will attract attention from around the world. The Botanic Gardens have been designed as one large macro garden which has then been divided into three separate zones:  The large ‘waterdrop’ to the north-west consists of a raised walkway surrounding the Museum of Civilisation, creating a series of picnic areas and scenic paths from where views of the city beyond can be enjoyed. From the walkway botanical gardens can be viewed with the full extent of the lush Ivorian trees and plants which will be featured, as well as water features, ponds, flowers and grasses. The smaller ‘drop’ to the north-east consists of a smaller raised walkway surrounding the Botanic Enclosure and Herbarium, with further gardens underneath and more paths and scenic areas.Between both of these ‘water drops’ is another garden area housing the main parking area for this part of the site, as well as functioning as the buffer/entrance point to this area from the Boulevard de France. Here the gardens contain a mini-golf area, small recreational areas aimed at children and young people and the landscaped features and ponds surrounding the Aquarium.  Towards the south this entire garden area will become the new threshold to the Baie de Cocody, where the proposal includes a new, dredged erosion-proof boundary. A series of raised bridges will connect the botanic gardens to the raised waterfront walkway which brings together every different area of the entire project. Situated as “islands” within the Baie are two smaller ‘water drops’, one containing the leisure and sports complex to the north of the main walkway and on the other a stunning waterfront restaurant to the south of the walkway. The leisure/sports island will contain basketball, volleyball and football pitches, as well as a gym area and a club house/changing area. It will be connected to the walkway by two independent bridges. The leisure island will be built as a floating structure, held up by concrete pile foundations. The other island will consist of an iconic waterfront restaurant featuring a large terrace as well as a small marina for private boats to moor up. It will be connected to the walkway by an independent lightweight bridge and will be built as a floating structure also held up by concrete pile foundations. The central area is bordered by the main pedestrian walkway and covers the main public/urban zones within the masterplan, as well as the principal pedestrian connections to the city of Abidjan. In contrast to the north area, which creates the atmosphere of an oasis or private park, the central area includes the main pedestrian connection to the Plateau via the Avenue Chardy. Here one of the main ‘drops’ of the entire scheme will be housed, covering the main public plaza and connected to the Plateau via a sweeping pedestrian tunnel under the Boulevard de Gaulle.  This plaza is marked by its amphitheatre which can be used to watch regattas in the sea or enjoy cultural events, theatre, music and dance performances. Alongside this plaza will be a series of small gardens and information pavilions; including tourist information, a police booth, a small café, and the ticket booth for the taxi-boat. Slightly above the main plaza is the ‘waterdrop’ which will house the marina for smaller, private boats. This marina will include a small club-house as well as one of the main taxi-boat stops, which is to be completely renovated in this proposal.  This taxi-boat stop will have a large canopy, providing cover from rain and sun for those waiting to board the vessels. Between this marina and the Boulevard de Gaulle is the main car parking area within the whole masterplan, providing roughly 500 parking spaces and covered by a green roof. Adjacent to this car park are two pedestrian bridges creating a link between the Stade H Boigny and the Cathedrale Saint-Paul to the proposed Waterfront walkway, creating a fluid link between these icons of the city, both old and new. Across the Lagune bay, and adjacent to the Hotel Ivoire is the last ‘waterdrop’ of this central area, which is connected to the rest of the waterfront via the continuous raised walkway. This ‘drop’ will house a marina for larger vessels and another taxi-boat stop as well as another viewing platform for regattas and a small clubhouse.  The south area is bordered by the main pedestrian walkway and includes a large park and picnic area, tennis club, the fishermen’s dyke and Lighthouse, as well as a gym and a waterfront restaurant on the southern tip of the Lagune. It also includes a further two taxi boat stops which are connected to the main network. The park area will become an important recreational area for the city, allowing people to gather in its various picnic points, meet for a game of tennis, petanque or chess, or to go down to the fisherman’s dyke for some recreational fishing. The fisherman’s dyke marks the end of the new water depollution drainage system and also provides a dyke to control the erosion of the waterbed caused by underwater currents from the South West. At the end of this dyke a sculptural lighthouse is proposed, providing an iconic entrance to the Baie of Cocody. The southern stretch of our waterfront project, which runs alongside the Boulevard Lagunaire de la Paix, contains the third large parking space within the whole waterfront, as well as the gym and waterfront restaurant. These will directly face the Palais de de Culture to the other side of the Lagune and will mark the end of this waterfront intervention.  The design of the park’s green areas takes inspiration from the great Brazilian lansdscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, who designed the waterfront of Copacabana in Rio as well as many other of Brazil’s best landscaped parks.  Marx’s work can be summarized in four general design concepts—the use of native tropical vegetation as a structural element of design, the rupture of symmetrical patterns in the conception of open spaces, the colorful treatment of pavements, and the use of free forms in water features. These principles underline the inspiration for the gardens which have been designed for this waterfront project. There are 3 main garden/park areas: The northern Botanical GardensThe Central Urban ParkThe southern Recreational Park The gardens in all of these areas consist of a fluid mix of landscaping materials and features, all of which are based on free organic forms. This means that the paving material in one garden will be a grass surface in another and a water feature in the third. The forms are playful and instinctive, and provide a strong visual identity which can be both intimate and grand, depending on its scale and location.  It is in this diversity of green spaces for the whole community to enjoy together that this waterfront will become a beacon for the future of city planning. Architecture: DOS architects collaboration with Koffi & Diabate architects Rendering courtesy of DOS architects

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