Challenge for Lisbon’s riverfront

AN AMERICAN university professor has called for the deindustrialisation of Lisbon’s River Tejo waterfront.

Dr Matt Kondolf, the Director of Portuguese Studies at the University of Berkley in California, says that, these days, former industrial areas on the riverfronts of historic capital cities are being dismantled and moved to free up riverfronts for leisure and tourist activities.

Lisbon had a “tremendous opportunity” to once again be linked to the River Tejo by clearing old dock zones while not blighting the riverfront with unsightly new industrial projects.

The university professor said that Lisbon’s biggest challenge was how to regenerate and redevelop the riverfront, while its greatest obstacle was the railway running along the docks and the still existing industrial port buildings.

“In these places the river is clearly divorced from the city, but by moving the merchant shipping traffic further down the river the riverside area in front of the historic part of Lisbon could be released and landscaped” he said, adding that of course there “were limits.”

Professor Kondolf, who is also an expert in architecture, landscaping, and geography, and specialises in rivers, said that eventual building development pressure on the riverfront was “inevitable.”

“Of course some private interests should be allowed because this is an excellent area for people to live on, but it should all be done in a sensible and tasteful way, without burdening the riverfront skyline with tall buildings and ruining the picturesque features of the area,” he concluded.

The university professor was in Lisbon for a conference comparing riverside regeneration and redevelopment issues in the United States and Europe.

In the United States, 17 billion euros had been spent on riverfront regeneration initiatives of this kind, whereby polluted and industrially blighted areas were cleaned up and made attractive again for new, more environmentally friendly uses, such as water sports, parks, riverside walkways, boating activities and housing.

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