Crested — Architecture Competition by

Architecture Design Competition ‘Crested’ Launched by UNI —
Waterfront pavilion design challenge near river Arno



Fig: 1 — Florence has many rivers that hold importance in the country of Italy.


The Arno River has been an important part of the growth of Florence as a city. It divides the city into two and has a number of bridges bridging the gap. The city witnessed the decline of the Roman Empire and emerged as the hub for Europe’s financial stability including the powerful and influential families such as the Medicis.

Originating at the Monte Falterona in Casentino, the river Arno flows through Florence, Empoli and Pisa making it an important source of livelihood in ancient times. The river delta that lets it flow into the sea was reclaimed making it narrow down to one mouth.

It has historically been an important source of work such as for the sand diggers, millers, tanners and wool workers while acting as a recreational tool for festivities and sports. This acted as an important transit route between the mouth to the sea and the Apennines which acted as the source for the timber needs for the city’s architectural works. Today the city and the river attracts millions of tourists every day and has been declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Fig: 2 — The banks of the Arno River near the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence.


Despite being in such a public position in terms of heritage and beauty, despite having a river running throughout, the city’s precautionary steps against flooding have turned out suboptimal after the incident of 1966.

On November 4, 1966, the river overflowed its embankments invading major parts of the city and destroying the valuable heritage of the city including buildings and galleries. It also accounted for the loss of property and a considerable amount of lives. Most lives were spared that day, being a holiday to celebrate their victory during World War I. With establishments closed along with the site, most people stayed home.

Nonetheless, the river overflowing the embankments already built, made the authorities raise it even more, and after 56 eruptions of the river and precautions are taken, people have now started panicking about history repeating again as the river has reached its highest level in 20 years.

The natural fluctuations of the river have had the citizens in a state of uncertainty. In what manner can this site be utilised as an effective space?

Fig: 3 — Many shops along the bridge were destroyed by the disastrous flood that hit the city. (Credit. Associated Press)


The great flood of 1966 led to the public disengagement with many areas and attractions along the bank including the Terzo Giardino. This open public garden, after lying neglected for over 50 years, was retouched in 2017, but its potential to reconnect the people of the area to the river and its rich history remains unexplored.

Brief: The architecture competition brief calls for a redesign of Terzo Giardino, to make it a flood-resistant waterfront public space along the banks of the river Arno.

Designing a waterfront development that would both fulfil the function of acting as a flood barrier as well as act as a non-disruptive addition to the public spaces of the city is the goal. The location is sensitive so the negative impact of design must be reduced while ensuring the comfort of users.

The nature of activity in the area must be oriented to serve the needs of the public. The built form must be able to connect with the people, through its form, layout or spaces. The relationship of the building with the context, both in physical and mental terms must be explored. The function can be retained or changed as per the participant.

The aim of the competition is to come up with unique design solutions to preserve and conserve the river Arno waterfront.


  • Concept: The style and the spatial programming of the spaces need to be contextual and culturally appropriate making them blend with their surroundings.
  • Resilient: Reduce the negative impact of design on the environment, by improving building performance, reducing waste and ensuring comfort for occupants.
  • Landmark: The visual impact must be exemplary with standout features. The aesthetics and functionality must be balanced to create a mix of open, semi-open and closed spaces.
  • Context: The design must respond to the (existing) site conditions. The wider socio-cultural, economic and environmental settings are to be considered in the design approach.


Fig: 4 — Site image

The site is the Terzo Giardino, along the banks of river Arno. It faces the old centre of Florence providing a picturesque and historical view as well as its strategic position close to the city’s attractions. Providing new urban viewpoints, the location also acts as an escape to the residents from the busier tourist spots.

  • Site area = 25,052 sq.m
  • Height restriction = 3 metres
  • Ground Coverage = 60%
  • Setbacks (as per CAD plan)

Coordinates = Terzo Giardino

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: Crested | Urban Design Competition on UNI | About

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