The river becomes the mediator – urban river restoration creating new spaces for intercultural dialogue and mediation
At a basic level, water is a fundamental part of the human experience. Cities are, for the most part, founded on rivers. Water and rivers form a significant metaphor in describing, recording and celebrating historic and personal narratives. The title of this paper is inspired by a Persian fairy tale where a lovelorn princess, needing reassurance that the man she had fallen in love with was true, spoke to and heard back from the river. Symbolised by the river, water is the bringer of life and the connector of people. And yet… in many cities the small urban river is a problem, something to be fenced off and ignored. While cities have rediscovered the importance of major rivers in driving regeneration, smaller tributaries, streams and creeks are covered, diverted or hidden away. But it doesn’t take much for the focus to change. Revitalised riparian public spaces provide a natural and neutral meeting point for all members of the community with the river acting as a physical and metaphorical mediator. Previously unloved and unknown spaces can become a key part of a city’s infrastructure. More importantly, the city residents have a space to meet becoming, in turn, known and loved.
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