Dublin Riverwalk
REG 01 - 09 - 2010

Dublin treats the River Liffey, which runs through the heart of the city - as an asset. Buildings trace a generally well-developed riverwalk that is teeming with pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobiles. The continuous facade of urban buildings focuses one's attention to the river, which in turns provides an ever-changing perspective along its gentle curve. The river itself is channelized and crests several meters below the bustling street, but the riverwalk still manages to integrate the river with daily urban activities. The riverwalk - a comfortable pedestrian space, scaled to the human form and detailed to create a culturally-relevant urban environment - incorporates history, architecture, and modern recreation. Calatrava's bridge, which spans the River Liffey, evokes the culturally signicant symbol: the harp, with its smooth, sweeping armature and string-like sinews. Light fixtures, benches and railings capture the essence of the bridge's elegant form, further reinforcing the continuity of form and style throughout the space. Surrounding buildings respond and complement the design of the bridge and their position along the river, allowing the passers-by to appreciate the view from multiple perspectives. Public art, in the form of sculpture, strengthens the historical context. Ireland's great potato famine is depicted by several gaunt figures struggling for their next step. The art serves both to narrate the country's unique history and populate the space with a physically and intellectually interactive intervention. The expression of art and architecture, as such, is less an expression of the artist's ego than a celebration of culture. Calatrava's bridge may formally stand-out from its urban context, but its integration into the urban fabric and success as cultural narrative earn it a place in the heart of the residents. In all, the river becomes a forum for historical remembrance, cultural celebration and modern recreation. It is embraced as a means to showcase the city and cater to that which gives the city its life: people.

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