Riva Split Waterfront

The city of Split and its waterfront is designed by 3LHD architects in 2005 and the project is completed in 2007.

The Riva, as the paradigm of its history and character, are among the most interesting and most specific sites in the Mediterranean. Split waterfront is an urbanized, public, open and accessible space, 1700 years old.

It stands in front of Diocletian’s Palace, once the home of the Roman emperor. The modular Roman form of the palace in the latter phase became the framework that shaped the city and directed its expansion; in the same way, the dimensions, materials and form of the modular network of concrete elements laid on Riva directed the arrangement and positions of all the other elements of the public space.

before the project:

Before the intervention. Despite its tremendous historical and architectural value, Split’s waterfront was spoiled by the disorder that reigned among its commercial premises. Of an array of forms, sizes and colours, the awnings, sunshades and canopies of the restaurants and cafes made any kind of unitary perspective impossible.

after the project:


After the intervention. The intervention has freed the waterfront of the former clutter of accessory elements, dignifying it and improving its appearance.

Aerial view of the promenade. A row of palm trees separates the lateral strip next to the buildings from the central promenade that is some twenty metres wide. Again, the central zone is separated by a double row of palm trees from a third thoroughfare strip that runs along the water’s edge.

The identity of the promenade has been reinforced and its use rationalised. Now, all the elements that comprise it respond to a single, coherent and harmonious order that highlights its Mediterranean character.

Night-time view of the central part of the promenade.


The intervention follows the pattern of a reticulum of square modules of a metre and a half by a metre and a half. The reticulum materialises in a breaking up of the paving, which consists of slabs of concrete in different hues of greenish-grey with very clearly marked junctures. All the elements of lighting, street furniture and gardens are organised according to the guidelines marked out by the paving.


The poles on the northenside, set into the ground each four modules, are used to support large fold-away sun shades that provide protection from the sun for the tables of the cafes and restaurants. The poles on the southern side, each thirteen modules, act as supports for street lighting that has been achieved by means of an innovative system of LED lights of variable intensity.


In the shade of the first row of palm trees, between the central promenade and the sea, there is a green strip, twelve modules wide, which is full of garden plots of variable forms but always cut out in keeping with the reticulum of the paving. These parterres concentrate all the Riva’s shrub vegetation, consisting of Mediterranean plants of low water consumption and resistant to the salty air coming off the sea.


Some white wooden benches have been fixed on to paving slabs that have been set at a slight angle.


Some benches consist of a simple paving slab raised from the ground and folded back on itself..

The waterfront is the focal point where the city meets the sea. 250 meters long and 55 meters wide, it is also the main public square, the space for all kinds of social events, promenade by day, parade by night, the site of sport events, religious processions, festivals and celebrations. The project rearticulates the space for all the mentioned events and harmonizes them on a new integrated surface. The solution uses not only architectural design, but also materials, to respond to all the challenges of utilization set before the Riva.
All urban elements and equipment was specially designed for this project and they try to meet local spirit and atmosphere.

text&images: http://www.publicspace.org, http://studio3lhd.hr

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