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Competition: Baku Waterfront, Azerbaijan

The Union of Moscow Architects has launched an open international contest to regenerate the waterfront area of Baku in Azerbaijan (Deadline: 15 July)

Backed by the Union of Architects of Azerbaijan, the anonymous contest seeks proposals to transform the capital’s former industrial quays into new public spaces.

Proposals may include new public squares and boulevards, sports and recreational facilities, retail, cafés, hotels, parks and transport infrastructure.



Baku’s industrial waterfront

According to the brief: ‘The main object of the competition is to suggest an original conceptual solution demonstrating a contemporary and innovative approach to the complex development of the coastal territories with elements of public and tourist infrastructure.’

The brief continued: ‘The participants shall propose functional zoning and the principles of area improvement for active public use and recreation.

‘An indicative nomenclature of buildings to be accommodated in the designed area should be developed, and easy access for maintenance of technical services as well as an adequate number of parking places both for cars and tourist buses should be provided.’

Overlooking the Caspian Sea, Baku is a major centre of oil production and cargo shipping which together dominate large areas of its eastern waterfront.

The city’s prestigious waterfront boulevard has been expanded eastwards into the former industrial area in recent years.



Baku waterfront contest site

High-profile redevelopment projects include Benoy’s 120,000m² Caspian Waterfront shopping mall which is currently under construction.

HOK’s 39-storey tall Baku Flame Towers – featuring apartments and offices – are among other new landmarks nearby.

The contest has been organised as part of the sixth ‘Eco-Shore’ international conference which will be hosted locally from 21 to 25 September.

Submissions should feature conceptual visuals, a masterplan, 3,000-word explanatory essay and basic economic projections.

The winning team – set to be announced on 24 September – will receive $2,000 USD, and a second-place prize of $1,500 USD and third-place prize worth $750 USD are also available.

Prize holders may also be invited to design and deliver their projects as part of the city’s ongoing boulevard redevelopment programme.

How to apply


The registration deadline is 15 July and submissions must be completed by 7 September

Contact details

Union of Moscow Architects
Granatniy Per. 9
Tel: +7(495) 694-59-22

Visit the competition website for more information

South East Coastal Park case study: Q&A with Alejandro Zaera-Polo

The co-founder of AZPML discusses lessons learned designing a new waterfront park in Barcelona



Alejandro Zaera-Polo

How did your South East coastal park project create new public spaces reconnecting the waterfront to the city?

The grounds of the Barcelona waterfront park were gained to the sea. Previously, the land use on this waterfront was a water purifying plant, which has now been covered with a new public space, and our waterfront auditoria were mediating topographically between the new public space and the sea level, producing an entirely new interface between the coastal public spaces and the new beach.

Which material, structural and other techniques are available to architects seeking to achieve a similar impact?

We do not know if the real question now is to produce something ‘impressive’, or rather aim at producing something ‘effective’ in terms of promoting the public life of the city, recycling the urban capital and to treat the delicate coastal environment appropriately. There are many technologies that are new and interesting when treating a coastline. The list will be too long to discuss here, but we could mention, for example, tidal power technologies, or the development of resilient vegetation ecosystems for coastline environments.



Source: Image by Jordi Todo, Tavisa

South East Coastal Park by Foreign Office Architects

What considerations are important when regenerating a former industrial waterfront such as Baku’s?

We think it is very important to overcome the idea of a comprehensive removal of industrial activities from waterfronts. In the last few decades, waterfront developments in Bilbao, Buenos Aires (Puerto Madero), Baltimore and Boston have followed a total replacement of industrial activity by residential and commercial development. We believe that such an integral reprogramming is not necessarily effective and should be avoided, allowing new activities with those industrial uses which are still vibrant. The hybridisation of productive and industrial functions with residential, commercial and leisure uses is not only more resilient over time, but produces a more interesting urban texture. We now know that the neoliberal idea that cities have to become pure consumption enclaves is not sustainable, and industrial waterfronts should be considered now as spaces where production and industrial facilities can and should be reinserted in cities.



Source: Image by Jordi Todo, Tavisa

South East Coastal Park by Foreign Office Architects