Bratislava, the capital city of Slovak Republic, is one of the youngest capital city in Europe. It is situated in the central Europe with a surface area 367,9km², at the foothills of the Little Carpathians. Bratislava lies on both banks of the Danube River – the second largest river in Europe, which crosses the city from the west to the south-east. The Danube river, which is one of the multimodal transport system in Europe, is one of the city's main assets. Bratislava is the only national capital which borders with two another independent countries: Austria and Hungary. The proximity to their national metropolis (to Vienna cca. 60 km and to Budapest cca. 200 km) makes from the so called “Golden triangle” (Vienna – Bratislava – Györ/Budapest) a dynamically evolving region. The economic vitality of the Bratislava region (NUTS 2) represented by the Regional gross domestic product (PPS per inhabitant), was in 2008: 167% of the EU-27 average, which was the 9. highest among EU regions. Bratislava with its population of 432 801 (31.12.2010, according to the Statistical office of the Slovak republic) as well as with the political, economic and scientific position is on the top of the national urban hierarchy. The city is a target of daily mobility to work and schools (about 150 thousand people per day). The wide range of educational institutions and the largest science and research capacity of the Slovak Republic are concentrated here. The rate of unemployment is relatively low (according to Eurostat the unemployment rate by NUTS 2 - Bratislava region, was in 2010: 6,2% and in the larger urban zone 2007-2009: 3,9%).
Postsocialist cities like Bratislava, Prague and others, can be considered as examples where postindustrial and postsocialist transformation runs simultaneously. While one has a fundamental impact on the spatial and functional structure of the city, the other causes inflexibility or even inability to respond to today’s global economic challenges.
The waterfront redevelopment is already a global phenomenon which is with the influence of global economy interconnection, gradually spreading to smaller cities. In many cities, the waterfront redeveloped acts as a driver for the re-launch of the entire economy of a city. Bratislava has recently experienced dynamic acceleration of urban dynamics. This dynamic is also visible on its riverside. However the gap between winners and looser on the waterfront has a growing tendency. For understanding of future development of Slovak capital is necessary to analyze chosen locality and processes which are influencing it. Therefore the main research questions of our team are:
• Why should the city hall in Bratislava pay specific attention to complex waterfront regeneration? (opportunities and threats)
• Who is revitalizing waterfront in Bratislava today? Are involved stakeholders in equal position, or are there some which have significant predominance over the others? Who is the most powerful to make significant changes?
• What are the main differences and consequences between publicly and privately driven revitalization?
• What are the current experiences with revitalization and how do significant investments influence and change social structure in the location?
• Do public stakeholders have common vision for waterfront in Bratislava? If not, how do they differ and what are their mutual hierarchical/power relations?
• Are there any conflicts over the waterfront development? Who are the winners and who are the losers?
• What planning policies could be helpful in cities with fiscally fragile position of the city hall?
The understanding of processes and influences which are changing the face of today’s waterfronts has a key impact on taking the temporary chance of radical city core transformation. Due to this fact the overall objective of our team is to evaluate the current stage of waterfront regeneration in Bratislava in the international context. Consequently our team identified following sub-objectives:
1. Summary of the main reasons for the importance of complex waterfront regeneration for the city development.
2. Identification of stakeholders (public + private sector + citizens NGO), their relations to each other and current cooperation.
3. Identification of the current position and approach of decision makers to the revitalization of Bratislava waterfront and what are the risks and consequences of privately driven revitalization without significant participation of the public sector.
4. Identification and suggestion of normative solutions, which may help to reach sustainable urban regeneration in terms of social, environmental, economic, functional and physical change, which could be applicable to postsocialist Bratislava.