Between Myth and Reality

The Frontiers of Waterfront Redevelopment in Nigeria



By Dr. Felix Osita Ikekpeazu and Arc. Vitalis M. Irouke

Nnamdi Azikiwe University

Anambra State, Nigeria



This paper is at once an evaluation and investigation into the economic viability and the architectural possibilities of waterfront redevelopments in Nigeria, in terms of the residential and commercial developments. It commences with a historic overview of waterfront redevelopments, highlighting the evolution of programmes for waterfronts; and furthermore, emphasizing the role of commercial developments in waterfront redevelopments. The paper then progresses to the issue of the public perception of waterfront redevelopments elaborating on the fact that public skepticism, in this regard, is attributable to the factors of technical feasibility, enforceability, resource and affordability and cultural validity concerning waterfront redevelopments. It then provides an insight into the economic context of waterfront redevelopments in Nigeria, elucidating the potentialities of waterfront redevelopments for tourism and economic development in the states of Nigeria. The paper then makes some policy recommendations stating that the potentialities of waterfront redevelopments for job creation and investments are immeasurable. It then reaches the conclusion that investors would no longer look further than the waterfronts of coastal states for profitable investments in properties and tourism – indeed, that waterfronts are new investment havens.

Keywords: Redevelopment, Commercial development, Public perception, Economic context, Investment potential and New investment haven.


The rapidity of waterfront redevelopments in the coastal and riverine areas of metropolitan cities in Nigeria is indicative of their economic viability, in terms of the volume of the residential and commercial developments. Essentially, waterfront redevelopments are commercial and residential developments in form of shops, restaurants, aquariums, entertainment facilities, office and housing on the coastal areas or alongside large rivers, seas or oceans.

Globally, the revitalization of the waterfront has been a principal feature of urban development over the last thirty years. The herd mentality of city planners and developers has given rise to generic models of success that ignore local characteristics. Opportunities exist for more experimental approaches that accommodate a wide range of uses and users and that adapt their forms to the uniqueness of their place and topography.


The Evolution of Programmes in Waterfront Redevelopment

The obsolescence of the port began in America during the late 1950s. The rest of the world followed suit in the 1960s and 1970s. Advances in transport technology – the intercontinental jet aircraft, the automobile and the railway – weakened the dominance of the city port as principal transport centre. Maritime passenger traffic rapidly disappeared, eliminating the need for liner berths and terminals. At the same time, the emergence of containerized shipping forced many ports to relocate further away from the city where land was in abundance – enabling quick and inexpensive access and construction of railroads and highways.

The combination of large plots of derelict land in the heart of cities with the rapid growth in the sector industry made waterfront redevelopment an obvious and valuable opportunity for city planners and entrepreneurs. Programmes for renewal and rebuilding in waterfront redevelopment first began in major North American cities such as Boston, Baltimore, St. Louis and Toronto in the 1960s and ‘70s. These were followed in rapid succession by projects in Europe – the Docklands in London and Liverpool, the Vieux  Port in Marseilles – and on the other side of the world, Darling Harbour in Sydney and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in South Africa.

Our the last two decades, cities as diverse as Barcelona, Baltimore, Bangkok an Buenos Aires have attempted to reclaim their waterways. City officials and developers have radically restructured abandoned and underused urban waterfronts; transforming their physical layout, function and use. In the 19th Century, the waterfront was a place devoted to commerce and industry. A post-war shift away from the manufacturing economy to the informational and service economy (leisure, recreation and tourism) led to the emergence of a wide array of new uses for waterfront – from parks and walkways, restaurants and casinos to mixed-use and residential projects. 


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How to cite this article:

Ikekpeazu, F., Irouke, V. (2018), Between Myth and Reality: The Frontiers of Waterfront Redevelopment in Nigeria, PM World Journal, Volume VII, Issue 5, May 2018. https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/pmwj70-May2018-Ikekpeazu-frontiers-of-waterfront-redevelopment-Featured-Paper.pdf

About the Authors

Dr. Felix Ikekpeazu

Nnamdi Azikiwe University
Anambra State, Nigeria



Dr. Felix Ikekpeazu holds a Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arc) and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Architecture, specializing in Housing delivery systems. He joined Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Anambra State after serving as Chief Architect at the Enugu State Housing Development Corporation. He is currently a senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture. His research interests are in Housing delivery systems, Green buildings and energy efficiency in buildings. Dr. Ikekpeazu is a registered Architect and has published in many local and international journals. He can be contacted at [email protected]


Arc. Vitalis M. Irouke

Nnamdi Azikwe University
Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria



Arc. Vitalis M. Irouke holds a Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arc) and a Master’s Degree in Architecture. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Anambra State. Arc. Irouke is a registered Architect and has published in many local and international journals.