AIVP Days – Personal Comment

AIVP Days – Personal Comment

AIVP Days – Le Havre – June 2017

The theme of congress, port-city animation, invited from the beginning to have a holistic approach, considering different perspectives, from academia to practitioners, from municipalities to port authorities.

The same week before the congress, we had the opportunity to discuss the most innovative practices in terms of social interaction between ports and citizens, during the 4th meeting of the Port Center Network. This tool, empowered by the AIVP, has evolved from simple explanation centers, with the typical port model and ancient images, to interactive platforms where the local residents can actually play a more active role in the port clusters and planning. We saw innovative examples from private companies, such as Contship, education and cultural institutions, like the STC from Rotterdam. Also Port Authorities participated, such as Livorno and Marseille, explaining the development process of a Port Center in the different scales and strategies. Urban agglomerations, like Lorient, proposes first to establish a local network and only after to consider a physical location and the associated investment. All these approaches contribute to enhance and clarify the role of the port in society, explain their importance and give disclosure to aspects that often remain hidden, only seeing the light for the most negative reasons. The local inhabitants, either port neighbors or city residents, sooner or later will become involved in the port development process, being either participants in the externalities, or, worse case scenario, players in NIMBY phenomenon. It has been proved that it is better to prevent than to fight, to avoid the conflict, to bring them inside the planning process, and find common strategies. It is important that the peopled feel as part of the solution, not of the problem.

During the congress we were able to see the combination of different strategies, from more traditional perspectives, to others more innovative. The keynote presentation, by landscape architects Michel Desvigne and Inessa Hansch, introduced their project for Le Havre’s waterfront, that tries to establish a new contact with from the street to the port. One of the key features of their design is flexibility. It is achieved by creating a new simple public space where temporary facilities and events can be made. In their presentation they introduced an important concept, that of port beauty, and how challenging it is to share it.

Base Projet N&B  A0_1-500
New waterfront Project for Le Havre. By Michel Desvigne. Source:

The following round table brought representative from different European cases, with different backgrounds. We could see initiatives from Genoa Porto Antico, Rotterdam STC, and Dublin Port Authority (DPA). One relevant detail is the fact that, with the exception of Dublin, the other organizations were not the usual players in the port-city animation, showing the different paths that can be taken to increase citizens presence on the waterfront and provide them a more complete image of the port.

Mr. O’Reilly, from DPA, highlighted a relevant point, that two realities were being discussed. On the one hand, the animation of regenerated waterfront locations that historically hosted port activities, e.g Genoa Port Antico. On the other the challenge of developing a sustainable social relationship with the active port, such as what happens in Marseille Bassin Est, Lisbon or in Dublin itself. The core issue is the possible combination of both strategies.

In academia the descriptive geographic model developed by Bird, Hoyle and others, describes the separation process and port exodus from central historical waterfront location. Although this model has been broadly accepted, it can also be discussed. Waterfront regeneration projects, as the ones presented by the keynote speakers of Le Havre, the one from Las Palmas, or Quebec, still do take place. However, as more restrictive environmental legislation and ecological public conscience is developed, blue and green field port development will probably find stronger opposition and limitation. As said in other publications, port retrofitting is an alternative to consider. This strategy raises the problem of peaceful coexistence and the acceptance of certain port landscapes within urban tissues. Further on, the ISPS code presents additional challenges regarding the port-city-citizen interaction. However, the code has existed since 2001, giving enough time for creative solutions to be developed, as it was indicated by Mr. Renaud Paubelle, from the GPM of Marseille, mentioning  the Terrasses du Port project in the same city.

Terrasses du Port Source:

Port retrofitting can be seen in some cases aforementioned. Although challenging , it might be the most sustainable alternative when we consider the global scale. The fact of being “under surveillance” of the public eye forces companies and institutions to innovate taking advantage of new technologies that are already available. During the conference, examples of this technology were discussed, such as the ships that are able to produce more energy than the one they consume, the electrified docks, providing power to the ships avoiding fossil fuels, or the use of LNG on cruise ships. These advances require initial investment to later produce economical benefits. In cities is where port companies will feel the pressure to implement these innovations, that later will also benefit them.

In order to achieve what is commonly known as the (Social) License to Operate (LTO), ports have to use all available resources. The simple hard figures expressing the economic impact in terms of employment or turnaround traffic are not enough. As Mr. O’Reilly mentioned, Soft Values (Van Hooydonk, 2007) have to be explored. The

The book Soft Values of Seaports by Prof. Van Hooydonk (2007). In this publication the soft values are explained, as well the evolution of the relation between the ports and societies. In order to improve their disclosure the author proposes a new figure in port authorities, the soft values manager.

associated cultural and social elements, explained by Hein, that ports used to produce as unplanned externalities provide an opportunity to explain the port and other positive, often intangible, values, such as port-city identity. This concept, studied mainly in the academic world, is key for a sustainable port-city relationship. If Lynch (1960) once was able to define the image of the city and how people absorb information in the urban environment, our challenge is the definition of the image of the port-city, a task to which all stakeholders can and must contribute. In this sense social sciences are one of the key paths, as pointed out by Hein, where innovations can be made, also to inspire and set the course for institutional change and later concrete actions in each port-city.

If we use Soft-Values, we have to consider unquantifiable elements such as “port beauty” as mentioned by the keynote speaker, Mr. Michel Desvigne. Although “beauty” can be considered a subjective element, it is undeniable that even modern ports are able to have a certain fascination beyond logistic or economic values. This is a key element, combined with extensive socio-economical projects that involve the community and spread out through the entire port-city, including all kinds of actors, from private companies to educational college such as what we saw in Barcelona´s maritime cluster or Rotterdam STC.

To conclude, two remarks. The first one refers to the composition of the audience. The presence of delegates from very different geographical regions highlights one particular characteristic of the port-maritime world. Although it is one of the pillars of globalization, with private actors and organizations often operating in a continental or global scale, each context has its own idiosyncrasies. It is not possible to copy-paste solutions seen during the conference. The goal of these meetings and of the AIVP is the exchange of experiences that can inspire to animate each port-city adapting global strategies to the local context and available resources.

The second remark refers to the return on investment, probably one of the main challenges port-city animation faces. It is not easy to explain and convince certain sector and political leaders to make the investment into port-city animation. Sociological, management and other academic studies could be used to explain the issue and gather the necessary support. However, if we consider the alternative, not doing anything, as it happened during most part of the 20th century, we should find some justification for the investment. If we observe the consequences of this long lasting inaction in the social port-city relationship during decades, the opposition that has gradually emerged, the lack of awareness we can find a strong enough motivation to invest and take action. As Eamonn O´Rielly said regarding social initiatives, and by extension port-city animation: “we do it because we have to”.

Art Installation by Vincent Ganivet. One of many works and events celebrating the 500 anniversary of the city. Source:



Bird, J. H. (1963). The major seaports of the United Kingdom. Hutchison.

Hoyle, B.S. (1989) The port City Interface: Trends, Problems and Examples, Geoforum Vol. 20, 429-435.

Lynch, K. (1960). The image of the City. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Van Hooydonk, E. (2007). Soft values of seaports. A strategy for the restoration of public support for seaports. Antwerp: Garant.

Port-City researchers

Port-City researchers

Young scholars investigating port-cities

Since this blog started I have been contacted by many interested on the port-city relationship. Initially I was surprised and pleased to see how many people share a common passion for this topic. During the time past I have gotten in contact with other researcher developing interesting investigation projects, from different perspectives that somehow complement themselves. This blog has been since its beginning a platform to share information about port-cities, for this reason it seemed appropriated and useful for its readers to briefly present the research from these colleagues and give their contact for networking opportunities.

In this first post about fellow investigators I will present four of them with whom I have shared discussions and coffee breaks during (sometimes boring) congresses. We all share the same passion for this topic and their work is worth knowing. The following lines give a short introduction to the research of Karel Van den Berghe, Beatrice Moretti, Paolo de Martino, Hilde Sennema, Marica Castigliano and Fatma Tanis. You will notice they all have different backgrounds, but share some similarities. The project descriptions have been provided by themselves.

Karel Van den Berghe

Analyzing the Relational Geometry of the Port-City Interface

Karel bnThis PhD research (Ghent University 2014-2018) applies a relational approach to the study of port city interfaces. Such approach allows us to analyse how actors are connected, transact and assign meaning and value to local development. Much of the literature and studies on the port-city interface have primarily focused on late 20th century transformation processes at the urban waterfront. This fails to appreciate the often continued presence of port activity within cities and falls short in understanding how development agenda of port cities are relationally constituted. Therefore, this PhD research has three main goals. First, we theoretically develop the hypothesis that the port-city interface is not a closed system, but a relational construct through which heterogeneous flows of actors, assets and structures coalesce and take place. Second, using this theoretical framework, a conceptual framework capable of categorizing different relational port-city interfaces is presented and applied in a schematic way to the port cities of Ghent, Belgium, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. By mapping the relational geometries of these port cities, our results show how both public and private actors through networking strategically relate in different ways, across different territorial scales, within different institutionalized structured and between different economic sectors. Third, by analyzing the relational geometries, they provide us with examples of different dynamic actor-relational interplays and how this results in particular development trajectories. Eventually, this research questions the perceived geographical dichotomy between port and city.

Follow Karel in Researchgate or Linkedin

Beatrice Moretti

PORTUALITY XXI – Models and Strategies for the Urban-Port Dynamic Threshold

Beatrice bn‘Portuality’ is a concept rooted in some urban centers from the very early on. A territorial quality which specifically denotes those cities born and developed through strong historic/symbolic and economic/functional relationship with its own port. So, ‘portuality’ is a landscape requirement or a constitutive specificity of some territories. The research supports the recognition of ‘portuality’ as a specific character and together believes that the urban-port threshold, – in its various shapes and patterns -, could emerge as the main symbolic field of exploration where the ‘portuality paradigm’ is expressed also as a planning principle for coexistence strategies between port and city. The urban-port threshold materializes in the complex space along the margin between the two authorities, in that recurring landscape in which the city and the port are side by side. This heterogeneous but unique system is marked by an administrative boundary and is subjected to continuous hybridizations becoming a medium, an accumulator of change and transit. The urban-port threshold is, indeed, a dynamic system, a ‘filter space’: precarious, discontinuous, fragmented into parts where the juxtapositions take sufficient shape to acquire a dimension and be recognizable. According to this approach it is possible to update the old dichotomy ‘city-port’ outlining a new vision in which the port city is a forma urbis in progress, a composite, plural and open figure affected by the speed of changing processes and influenced by the many factors that every day are embodied in its territorial palimpsest.

Follow Beatrice in Researchgate or Linkedin 

Paolo de Martino

Port-city development. An interdisciplinary analysis for port city in transition. Naples as case study

Paolo_di_Martino bn

Numerous actors have been involved in the planning of the port and city of Naples; actors who have different ideas and goals, different tools, and even time-frames. The European Union, the Italian nation, the Campania Region, the Municipality of Naples, and the Port Authority act upon the port at different levels of planning. Each entity has different spatialities and temporalities. Their diverse goals have led port and city to develop into separate entities, from a spatial, functional as well as administrative point of view. The different scopes of their planning are particularly visible in the zone between port and city. As a result of these different development goals, the interface between port and city, particularly in waterfront zones that form the geographical area between the old city and the modern port, is undefined and its future is in limbo; in fact, the whole relationships between city and port requires rethinking.

Since the XIX century, the multitude and heterogeneity of planning authorities has produced many uncertainties for the port-city relationship in Naples, and a stalemate for the areas where the port physically meets the city. Today, a real regeneration process of the port areas is not yet started, for different reasons and city and port are really separated. This research explores why the city and port of Naples, one of the most important historical ports in Italy, seems resistant to urban plans, as well as co-operation between various actors involved in the urban planning processes. Using the concept of path dependency theory, the research aims to develop an actor-institutional and spatial understanding of the changing port-city relationship in Naples and the resulting urban transformations.

You can know more about Paolo in TUDelft website, in the CGHD, or Linkedin. You can get in contact with him through:

Hilde Sennema

The Port-City as their Business: the involvement of entrepreneurs in the Rotterdam policy network, 1930-1970.

Hilde bnDespite changes to the physical structure of port cities during the twentieth century,  ports continue to be connected to the urban scale through local policy systems, business networks, and labour markets. Moreover, ports are still recognized through city names and often build their marketing strategies on a port city identity. In her PhD research, Reinhilde Sennema (Erasmus University Rotterdam) looks at the case of Rotterdam analyze this phenomenon between 1930 and 1970, a time of severe crises (Great Depression, Second World War) and immense infrastructural innovations (petrochemical industry, container). She focuses on the role of port related associations, institutions and individuals in the Rotterdam policy network between 1930 an 1970, and asks why these actors were involved in urban developments, such as the reconstruction of the war damaged city center. In order to do so, she uses archives of, for example, the association for port interests (Stichting Havenbelangen), which was seen as the marketing department of the port of Rotterdam. It is expected that, already in the 1930s, the city of Rotterdam was considered to be an important asset in the world-wide marketing of the port. Conversely, from the 1930s until well in the 1960s, policy makers constructed and used a narrative that a strong port was the foundation of a wealthy city. This study therefore looks into early forms of public-private partnerships, and aims to shed light on the interests and values that are at play within present day collaborations between port and city as well.

Follow Hilde in Researchgate or Linkedin

Marica Castigliano

Port Systems as Driving Force of Regional Development Strategies – Planning towards Logistics and Urban Regeneration Scenarios

fotot bnThe research project focuses on port systems as networks of infrastructures that spread in the regional territory, for instance through seaport areas, inland terminals, logistics platforms and corridors.

The study starts from the question “how the ‘economies of the sea’ shape the lands?”. It specifically aims to investigate processes of governance involving Port Authorities, Cities and Regions and how they could support new strategies for development, beyond the border of the seaport and according to their specific ambitions.

The ‘spaces of flows’ (like flows of goods) are influencing contemporary landscapesand affect human behaviours and built environments. For this reason, the study investigates global networks focusing on the effects that the supply chain issues produce in the local context of port regions.Port areasof logisticsthat are part of the contemporary urbanized worldare also strategicin planning, especiallywhen new scenarios and urban regeneration programs are set up.

The theoretical framework of the study is based on Post-Metropolitan Urban Studies. According to this theory, the city is no longer a compact urban form. Urban planners have to deal with new ‘splintered’ forms of urbanization and urban structures spreading in wide regional areas. Considering that logistics areas vary in size, distribution and location, the study investigates the port system in a multi-scalar perspective focusing on the multiple actors involved in its governance processes. The port system, with its infrastructural nodes and links, is part of this multi-scalar urbanization and – as source of important transcalar economies–becomes the hard structure of port territories and the study argues that it should be considered in urban development strategies. This infrastructural armour constitutes the ‘operational landscape’ which supports the urban life as –even if it doesn’t seem part of our lives–it provides daily services and influences the organisation of the contemporary society.

The research project aims to investigate the port system and the aspect of governance, trying to answer to the main question “How the improvement of the port system could lead planning strategies for urban and regional development in Italy?”. It includes three sub-questions related to logistics, geographical and historical aspects:

  1. How do port economies shape the territory and whatare the infrastructural geographies of port regionalization?
  2. How do these new geographies affect the “surrounding environment” and how do they modifyspaces and plans of the Port-City at the local scale?
  3. How can we address the gap between transport/logistics and urban development policies?

The study focuses on different European port regions and it investigates the aspect of distribution related to processes of logistics geographies and the aspect of relations among Port Authorities, City, Region and other actors.International cases are used to identify key variables in spatial and governmental evolution of the selected port region.

Follow Marica in Researchgate or contact her through her email

Fatma Tanis

PORT CITY CULTURE OF IZMIR AS A CROSS-CULTURAL CONSTRUCT – Narratives of Izmir’s Border Crossing Practices since 16th Century

tanaThe thesis explores the importance of port city culture through narrative analysis of social-spatial developments in Turkish port city of Izmir. The research aims to investigate how city was constructed by short and long term immigrants and how narratives took position during this construction.Izmir is a particularly appropriate case for this analysis. Travelers have left narratives of the city since the 16th century describing daily life, events, Izmir’s built environment on waterfront and also hinterland. The PhD project has an intention and motivation to achieve to the present and points out how contemporary city and port city culture relation could be re-established through its trans-cultural history.

Port cities with their long-standing and diverse histories, their global networks and changing fates have attracted numerous commentaries and decision-makers have used them carefully to help build a local port city culture. This local culture thrives throughcontinuously evolving of international relationships, goods, people, and ideas, etc. Its locus is the contact zone, a range of diverse spatial figures—industrial, residential, leisure, religious, education, offices-  that are centred around the waterfront but also dispersed through the city.

Port city culture is related to numerous different cultures that clash in port cities, “under impacts of internal and external political, economic and social forces”[1] for beneficial of port and trade activities. Plenty of actors, users, protagonists from different countries, from different backgrounds contributed to Izmir’s port city culture. Collaboration of local and European knowledge created unique form.

[1]Alfred Louis Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn, “Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions,” Papers. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University  (1952).


Follow Fatma in Researchgate or Linkedin

Are you also a young researcher investigating the port-city relation? contact us!

We will do future posts featuring other researchers. I take this opportunity to invite young scientist dealing with the port-city relationship to get in contact and explain the research project to be featured in another similar article.

Evolution of the port-city relationship between 1974 and early 2000s

Evolution of the port-city relationship between 1974 and early 2000s

During the last couple of months it was difficult to find time to craft an article worth posting. Finally the third piece explaining the evolution of the port-city relation in Lisbon is here.

Socio-political context

Portugal was in a complex political situation after the end of the dictatorship in 1974. The carnations revolution brought democracy to the country, a period also known as the 3rd republic, but the socio-political situation was yet unclear. Until the political climate settled the major economic decisions remained unaltered.

During the early 1980s the country was still in a unstable socio-economic situation. For this reason it was forced to ask for a loan from the IMF, who intervened twice in these years, in 1978 and 1983. Portugal joined the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1986, along with other south-European countries like Spain and Greece. The arrival of European funding allowed important investments, particularly in infrastructure.

Port evolution during the 1970s and 1980s

The changes taking place on a global scale in the maritime sector also affected the port and industrial development in Lisbon. The introduction of new technologies, i.e. the container, changed many port dynamics and the space the port required. During these decades, 1970s and 1980s, the port saw the creation of new container terminals adapted to the new cargo. The two main examples were the terminal of Sta. Apolónia and the one in Alcântara. Sta Apolónia terminal opened in 1970, it was the first infrastructure dedicated to containers in the Iberian peninsula. The facility in Alcântara was inaugurated in 1985. According to Nabais & Ramos (1987), this terminal was severely deteriorated in the 1960. The AGPL (Administração Geral do Porto de Lisboa) decided to invest on it and prepared for containers.

Terminal Sta Apolonia - Sotagus
Sta. Apolonia Container Terminal today. Since the original project the infrastructure has been updated and expanded. Retrieved from
Terminal Alcantara - portosdeportugal-pt
Alcântara Container terminal today. Retrieved from

During these decades other port facilities were created. Particularly relevant were the new silos for bulk cargo, linked with several industries, such as concrete manufacturers, agri-food companies, mainly dedicated to cereal derivatives or liquid bulk. The new infrastructure caused an important visual impact in the estuary, but increased the throughput of this type of cargo. This investment helped the port of Lisbon to become the leading port in cereal bulk cargo in the Iberian context[1].

At the same time these investments were taking place the maritime business was changing, causing transformations in the port-city relation, world-wide and obviously also in Lisbon. The port and industrial activities of large conglomerates diminished drastically. These industrial settlements, located on the eastern section of the city and the south side of the Tagus[2], developed during previous decades, originated large urban voids and brownfields. As in other port-cities there was a process of socio-economical decay in the urban areas linked with port and industrial activities. (Figueira de Sousa and Fernandes, 2012)

The social perception of the river and the port management model also changed during these years. People demanded an access to the Tagus, and the Port Authority (hereafter PA), like many other worldwide, changed to a landlord port functioning scheme after 1995 (Cabral, 2001). Later, in 1998, also following international port governance trends, the PA became a public owned company, (Administração do Porto de Lisboa – APL S.A)[3]. The economic and technological changes along with the increasing social pressure to get a free river accessibility, motivated a compendium of planning initiatives, led by different stakeholders, that changed the port-city-river relationship.

The most relevant issues for the current investigation is the evolution of the initiatives concerned with the use of the waterfront, and the development of new infrastructure testing the port-city relationship. During the late 1980s and early 1990s the attention towards the use of the waterfront for public areas and facilities started to rise. We will see how the situation changed drastically when compared with the previous decades. Four key processes took place almost simultaneously, we will briefly comment them and see what role did the PA played. The consequences caused by these planning initiatives marked the PA scope for the following decades, pointing out an institutional rigidity process.

Many planning initiatives with different results

During the second half of the 20th century, particularly since the 1980s, several private projects were developed along the railway barrier, on the city side. These new constructions gradually changed the programs of these buildings, from industrial to office and housing, although they were not part of any general plan nor considered the connection with the river a relevant goal. The new buildings were simply answering to market needs and city development, gradually increasing the urban pressure over the port (Costa, 2006). Simultaneously, there was a growing interest on the historical value of certain heritage buildings near the river, related with former port activities. This attention can be seen in the refurbishment project of “Casa dos Bicos” (op.cit. 2006).

Changes in the maritime sector and in the industrial tissue had left abandoned areas on the waterfront, affecting the general image. These spaces were seen as an opportunity. National and municipal (hereafter CML) governments, and port authorities, were interested in the waterfront regeneration. During this period we will see several parallel plans taking place at the same time, with different leading figures. For the scope of this research we will only focus on the ones directly affecting the waterfront, requiring negotiation with the PA.

The first relevant moment was the 1988 competition, organized by the Architectural Association and supported by different public bodies, including the PA. Besides this event, in this chapter we will mainly discuss the plans of the EXPO 1998, the POZOR and the 1990s municipal strategic and City development plans – PDM (Plano Director Municipal).

One of the most interesting characteristic of this period is the evolution of the port’s role, both internally and in relation with the society. Several authors have highlighted how, inspired by the international waterfront regeneration trends and to find financing for new port infrastructure, the PA deviated from its original focus to be more concerned with urban planning issues (Matias Ferreira, 1997, 1999; Ressano Garcia, 2006; Costa, 2006; Rego Cabral, 2001). This attitude change earned the port strong criticism from different sectors of society, claiming that it was going beyond its realm and accusing it from privatizing public territory, since the PA was only authorized to rent or lease port land, not to sell it for tertiary redevelopment projects (Ressano Garcia, Op. Cit)

First waterfront redevelopment initiatives – “Lisboa, a Cidade e o Rio” competition – 1988

Most scholars agree that the definitive moment for the new approach towards the waterfront and the river-city relationship occurred in 1988, when the competition “Lisboa, a Cidade e o Rio” (Lisbon, the city and the river) took place[4]. This event organized by the Architectural Association (AA) and supported by the PA, had the goal of providing ideas for the riverfront, admitting the presence of the port, and mostly to raise a debate about the connection between the city and the river.

"Lisboa, a Cidade e o Rio" Competition catalog, 1988.
“Lisboa, a Cidade e o Rio” Competition catalog, 1988.

The Tagus has always been considered the key identity element for Lisbon. It has been the inspiration for artists from different times, and welcomed kings from foreign countries. It was one of the key reasons for the original settlement by the Phoenicians, and provided transport, protection, work and food. The main public space of the city, the Praça do Comércio, opens up to the water and in the social psyche there is a certain false nostalgia for the free access to the river, something that never really happened, at least the way most residents picture it (Morgado, 2005)[5]. During the 20th century the separation between the city and the river increased, due to the presence of industrial activities that, as we have seen in previous chapters, blocked the visual connection or turned the riverfront into an inhospitable space. The new port landfills progressively changed the “face” of Lisbon creating a new artificial territory, increasing the distance between both.

Gradually, during the second half of the 20th century, the water, rivers and seas, gained a new role in the city´s urban structure, a phenomenon taking place worldwide. There was a new perception, and therefore economic use of water, as an identity and landscape element that could increase the property´s value (Ward, 2011). New waterfront projects were often created around the contact with the water, seen it as strong development concept, and possibly as an asset to increase the profitability of the real estate operation. The examples known at the time often included new leisure facilities, office building or housing. Several projects in the USA and Europe showed a new image for “water cities”, based on what is often considered the urban post-fordist society (Olivier & Slack, 2006; Schubert, 2011). The new international waterfront image, the partial decadence of some port areas, an intense cultural program and the interest of several stakeholders, such as the PA and the AA, raises the awareness of local residents and created an interesting debate about this issue.

In the introduction of the competition´s publication (Brandão, 1988) the innovative character of the competition is clear. In this text there are several relevant statements. The author points out, as one of 6 key premises, the port activity as inseparable from the city, in a certain way appealing to the necessary coexistence between both realities.

“A actividade portuária é cidade – elemento indissociável da centralidade que a cidade oferece, pode rentabilizar a cidade com a sua própria vitalidade.”

Brandão (3: 1988)

Further on he also describes the riverfront as both 15 km of conflict and a key element of the urban and metropolitan structure for the connection with hinterland, Europe and the Iberian peninsula. In the same text Brandão also highlights the variety of layers existing in this port-city interface, including cultural and heritage elements, relevant economic activities and important landscape features.

In the competition 23 proposals were presented. The final statement of the jury indicates that none of the competitors was fully aware of the technical aspect necessary to include the port activity in their proposals. Therefore, the majority of the projects worked in idealized scenarios in which the port activities were either not considered or oversimplified. Only one proposal, from Arch. Manuel Bastos, was considered to have potential influence in the future planning of port activities. Another important entry was the one presented by Gravata Filipe. His project was focused on  Cais do Sodré, and was later further developed to include commercial areas and housing in this area. In this work, mostly in the later development, the influence of American and British waterfront projects was clear. Several companies and the PA were later interested in the further development of the project, but never became a reality.


Figure 1 Bird's eye perspective of the winning entry.
Bird’s eye perspective of the winning entry.


primeiro premio 1988 planta
Winning entry floorplan. Team led by Arch. Carlos Marques. Retrieved from the competition catalog “Lisboa, a cidade e o rio”

The competition played an important role, raising considerable media attention. It set the foundation over which the debate about the riverfront and the port would be built. Some ideas were later retaken or included in other plans, however the main issue of the port-city coexistence was not addressed. Although this competition was sponsored by the PA, the CML was also very present. Later both organizations would develop separate visions over the same problem, deepening the conflict. One particular plan that we will later see, the POZOR, damaged PA´s public image, and by association of port activities.

To conclude this section, when we observe the project areas, the issues they tried to solve and the images of the sites, we see that not much changed during the following years, although there was a strong debate. The first important intervention would start in the early 1990s, being inaugurated in 1998, the World Expo, in the eastern section of the city. Some priority areas, as stated in the competition catalogue, were gradually improved, although, some of them, only today are being completely developed, after years of discussion and frustrated attempts.

First major plans – 1990s

The idea competition brought a new vision of what could take place in Lisbon´s waterfront. The following years we would see different initiatives taking place, sponsored by different public bodies. The national government, responsible for the PA, developed different projects and plans with an international reach, and massive public investment. The waterfront was rediscovered by the municipality, and mostly by the people. There are several examples of the transformation process taking place at the time.

Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB)

In 1987 the plan for the regeneration of Belém, by Prof. Costa Lobo, was focused on the area where the 1940 Expo took place. This section of the city had several urban voids from the exhibition and required a general plan for its regeneration. In this plan was included the CCB project.

In the same plan for Belém, the burial of railway lines was suggested. This issue would be discussed several times during the following decades in the different planning initiatives that affected the waterfront.

After Portugal was accepted in the EEC, it was in charge of hosting the commission presidency in 1992. This event was used as motivation to promote the creation of new large public building, with a cultural scope. The location for this new facility was in Belém, in a sensible place, next to the Jerónimos monastery and the railway line. The competition for the new facility took place in 1988, for a site of 5 Ha. Several well-known archistars competed to develop the project, in total 53 proposals were presented, being the final winner the team formed by Gregotti and Risco Ateliê (the office led by Manuel Salgado, current urban development responsible in the municipality).

The design included five sections connected with an interior street that would link the Praça do Império to Belém Tower. The project´s geometry and the sensible location raised considerable discussion and controversy, particularly among certain sectors of society, that considered the new building an aggression to the monastery, a protected monument (França, 1997).

CCB - Atelie risco
Aerial view of the CCB. Project by Gregotti and Ateliê Risco. Retrieved from:

This case, although built in municipal land, not port land, was one of the first major intervention on the waterfront, implementing cultural programs and trying to develop a connection with the river through its elevated public space (Pagés Sanchez, 2011). The controversy already indicated how delicate the riverfront is for the local society and how any intervention would be closely examined.

From the five elements that composed the project, two remained unbuilt, including a congress centre and hotel. The proposal´s completion has remained in municipal masterplans and detail and sector plans. No specific deadlines have been set, and other cultural projects on the waterfront have been developed in the meantime.


Portugal was, at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s, a country aching to achieve international recognition and establish a fast development process to match its European partners. The country needed to show a new image to distance itself from the dictatorship times, and overcome the existing challenges. Spain, the Iberian neighbour, had successfully applied to host international events that would raise the international profile of two major cities, namely Barcelona with the 1992 Olympics, and Seville with the 1992 Expo.

Hosting international events would also bring funding and generate an opportunity to implement new key infrastructures in Lisbon, allowing it to compete with other cities. The investment required would be justified in terms of image, marketing, tourism generated income, and positive externalities. For the city it was also an opportunity to impulse a transformative process that otherwise would take longer time and face greater difficulties. Although the main driver was the central government, local government appreciated the investment brought by the international exhibition. At the same time, the scale of the intervention would go beyond Lisbon, affecting the entire metropolitan area, the region or even the country.

During the drafting of application, an internal debate took place to decide the best location for the Expo. After much discussion, three options were finally brought to the table by the project committee[6]. The first included a poly-nucleus concept, with several locations spread over the metropolitan area, a second option was the western part of the city, on the boundary between Lisbon and Oeiras. The third option was the eastern section where several declining industries existed. The first option was immediately discarded since it presented several difficulties that could make the event unmanageable. For the final discussion remained two possibilities, both on the waterfront, affecting port territory.

Lisbon has historically suffered an unbalanced urban development, particularly visible in the east-west dichotomy. The western section had an organic development, including the presence of historical monuments that potentiated the identity of this part of the city. In previous chapter we have seen how during the 20th century this section of the city was the first place to undergo an urban waterfront redevelopment plan, increasing its cultural and social profile, with museums and representative buildings. In contrast, the eastern section of the city hosted large industrial settlements and the port expansion for new cargo, such as containers. In the long term, particularly when the industrial activities started to decay, the eastern section became a depressed area, suffering socio-economic problems, poverty among the local residents and chaotic urban development, including slums, large social housing projects and gradually industrial brownfills. In this area we could also find companies from the petrochemical sector, whose activities were no longer considered suitable for the urban environment, presenting diverse hazards (Matias Ferreira, 1999).

The final decision, reached in 1991, was to develop the Expo in the eastern section of the city, on the boundary with Loures, in port territory, that hosted different companies from aforementioned petrochemical sector. The reasoning behind the decision was that it was an opportunity to balance the urban development and impulse a regeneration process in this section, implementing a new centrality that would attract private investment between the city´s downtown and the new development. Also relevant was the presence of logistic infrastructure, close to the airport, railway lines connecting the city with the rest of the country and Spain, and the possibility of integrating a new connection with the south side of the river.

Expo site
Expo site before the construction started. We can see several industries, including an important petrochemical area that was later transferred to Sines. Retrieved from

The case of the Expo 98 in Lisbon can be observed from very different perspectives. It has been broadly used as an outstanding example of urban intervention, that brought quality public spaces to the city, new leisure and cultural facilities, unique in the region or even in the country, and a successful real estate scheme, with considerable private investment after the event (Guimarães, 2006). The fast reconversion of the exhibition area into a new element of the urban structure was also considered exemplary, avoiding abandonment situation like it happened in Seville six years earlier. Officials from the municipality and the central government have also, frequently, used the expo to show the Portuguese capacity when competing to host international events, such as the Euro cup in 2004, or international summits, such as the EU meetings. However, the plan and development of this section of the city also had its flaws and negative aspects, or at least less positive issues, that could have been handled differently. In this investigation we will focus on the general urban regeneration process, the effects on the port territory and the role of the PA.

In 1992 Lisbon beat Toronto in the final vote of the BIE (Bureau International de Exhibition). The inauguration date was set for May 1998, implying a fast development process. Given the tight deadlines the government decided to create a new agency, named Parque Expo[7], that would operate outside the usual urban legislation, and benefited from special capabilities. The area where the exhibition and associated real estate operation would take place was removed from the PDM being drafted at the time. The new public company had total authority for the redevelopment of the area, including building permits. The financial capacity introduced two speeds in Lisbon´s development (Costa, 2006), enabling an unprecedented urban transformation rhythm. [8]

Aerial view of the Parque das Nações - Post-Expo98.
Aerial view of the Parque das Nações – Post-Expo98. In this image the real estate operation was not concluded yet. Retrieved from:

The government set three main goals (Matias Ferreira, 1997): (i) to reconnect the city with the river, (ii) to impulse the regeneration of this area, and (iii) to develop the plan with no cost for the state, being financed through the real estate scheme for the aftermath, associated to the operation. The first goal was also included in the municipal plans. In this area the Olivais dock, the former maritime airport, was considered a great opportunity to establish a new connection with the river.

The regeneration of the area was complemented with the Plano de Urbanização da Zona Envolvente da Expo 98 (Plan for the surrounding area of the 1998 Expo). This part of the city was already a priority in the new PDM. The social issues present in these neighbourhoods, the lack of public facilities and unbalanced urban developed between east and west was seen as a major problem. Municipal plans considered the regeneration should be based in the “gate” character of this area, that included connections with major transportation chains, such as railway, port and airport. At the same time the redevelopment of the depleted industries was considered, including its consolidation and the construction of new facilities linked with education and investigation. When the expo location was decided, the PDM was modified, and the 350 Ha for the operation given to the new public company. Different authors mention how the original intention was to avoid the “island” effect, that eventually did happen. The connection with the surrounding did not happen as fluently as expected, particularly in the social sense, the contrast between the poor areas and the new modern neighbourhood was, and still is, clear[9]. The pressure to complete the project on schedule has been often used to justify the lack of public consultation that in other conditions would have taken place. At the same time, to achieve the goal of minimal state investment[10], the real estate scheme favoured luxury housing and higher densities introducing a strong gentrification process.

PA role

The site for the expo included a considerable section of port territory. In the law DL 207/93 14th of June the decommission of the land was made official, being the Parque Expo responsible for the compensation to the APL (Matias Ferreira, 1997). When the exhibition was concluded the PA demanded a considerable indemnification for losses, mostly caused by the contract breach with the concessionaries. This operation it is subject of controversies since the compensation from Parque Expo to the APL was never paid, the APL had to carry with the losses. Also, as Castro and Lucas (1997) point out, the port land release took place in a particularly sensitive moment, when the tension between the APL and the municipality was increasing. Being the Parque Expo a government company, not a municipal one, certainly eased the path. However, as the same authors explain, the losses caused by the aforementioned transfer were accounted in 1994 in 65 mill €[11].

During the application and planning process the role of the PA was rather passive. If the PA would have been owned by the CML there could have been considerable differences. In Portugal the port management model follows what it is known as the Latin tradition, the central government controls all PAs in the country. In the central  government agenda, to do an international event in port territory was more important than the port plans or even the compensation payment, that in case it had been paid, could have compromised the operation. In this particular case the centralized port management scheme diminished the possible confrontation. The agreement regarding the port land was made between two government companies.

Comparison with other plans

Particularly interesting is the fact that at the same time the expo process was taking place, the PA was drafting its own waterfront real estate operation, the POZOR (Plano de Ordenamento da Zona Ribeirinha). This plan, that we will later describe in further detail, included the reconversion of a central waterfront section into housing and office buildings. There were several key differences: (i) the location was considerably more sensitive, since it affected a consolidated area of the city, contrasting with the eastern section where the expo was going to take place. Another key difference (ii) was the lack of central government support, being an initiative mostly defended by the PA, with the opposition of the local government and civil society. Another issue (iii) was that, while the expo real estate operation, was developed by a new public company created for the occasion, the PA collaborated with a private corporation, also developing itself the urban plan, a task beyond what was by many accepted as its realm.

Comparing both cases we see that there can be substantial differences when developing a waterfront plan, pending on the national port system and who are the operation´s main drivers. In this case, as it is said in the official documents (Mega Ferreira et al., 1999), the national ownership of the port authority was considered an advantage, avoiding possible conflicts[12]. In the POZOR, the situation was exactly the opposite, social confrontation was present since the beginning. There was no clear political back up to the project and the confrontation eventually stopped the plan.

POZOR and Port Plans

The riverfront competition supported by the PA brought considerable media and social attention to the relation between the port, the city and the river. In the international context, more cities were implementing waterfront development plans. In two American cities, Baltimore and Boston, the first major plans took place. During the 1980s several port-cities in Europe redeveloped their urban waterfront, including the famous case of London, with a liberal approach, and others that followed a concept more focused on public spaces, housing or new leisure areas (Schubert, 2011). As it happened with every planning tendency, it expanded, reaching Portugal and inspiring the PA to act in a certain manner.

The gradual decrease in port activities during the 1970s and 1980s, forced the PA to reassess its role and evaluate the port  territory, identifying where were the active port facilities, and what land could be destined to other uses (Figueira de Sousa and Fernandes, 2012). During early 1990s, the PA saw its role and influence diminished by the ambitions of the central government to do the 1998 Expo. For the PA losing control over the Expo territory meant releasing almost 20% of its land and seen how the petrochemical cargo handling was transferred to Sines, both issues were a significant for the APL. At this point the PA decided to elaborate an strategic plan to answer the contextual changes.

In this investigation we will focus on the process and reactions the plan caused, just as we have done with previous documents. There are other investigations developed by well known scholars that enter into further detail, and that have been broadly referenced in this paper.


Before the POZOR the PA already realized it was necessary to change its attitude towards the city. The growing pressure and the option of gaining certain revenues from the waterfront regeneration became a strong motivation. After the competition that took place in 1988, one of the proposals received considerable attention. The project presented by Gravata Filipe included the redevelopment of waterfront between Cais do Sodré and Praça do Comércio. His project offered a new commercial vision for this area, including a shopping centre. (Ressano Garcia, 2006).

Gravata Filipe partnered with British architect David Colley to further develop the project into a more concrete plan. The project affected 2,5 km of the riverfront, stretching from Santos to Sta. Apolónia, the historical central section, including land from the PA, the municipality and the central state. With a strong commercial approach, influenced by the British examples, the plan included several key ideas that later would be again discussed and some implemented. The most relevant ones were the vertical transport node and the road tunnel to solve the barrier effect in this section. The first one was later developed, including the connection between trains and ferries  with the subway, while the second, although often discussed, was never built (Costa, 2006).

This proposal marked the beginning of a new approach towards the waterfront and its commercial value. The PA saw an opportunity to satisfy the public demand of greater access to the water, avoid possible social conflict and profit from the land, that later could be reinvested in the development of a new container terminal on the south side of the Tagus. One of the most relevant aspects of this proposal was bringing together different actors to negotiate about a concrete plan. As Costa (op. Cit.) mentions, the sensitive location also caused considerable debate, somehow giving a continuation to what had taken place some years earlier. During the second half of the 1990s the argument about this particular section would continue, even seen the creation of an ad-hoc company for its redevelopment, including the tunnel. As said before the tunnel would not be built, the transport node would be developed years after, and finally the public space would be designed twice.

Strategic Plan 1992

Simultaneously to the Project for Cais do Sodré, the PA had taken a pro-active role and decided to do the first strategic plan to establish a development course for the port. Following the public debate and the evolution seen in the international context, it seemed inevitable to potentiate port development on the south side of the river and consider the waterfront regeneration on the north.

In the port strategic plan, developed between 1990 and 1992, the pro-active approach implied the construction of a new container terminal on the south side, in Trafaria, and further waterfront regeneration on the north side. According to Costa (2006), the main issue was not the construction of new terminals, but the way it was proposed, linking Trafaria with Bugio Fort, an island in the middle of the river’s mouth. The environmental impact of this project, and the opposing local government of Almada, presented the first controversy. The strategic plan later evolved into a more concrete plan, the POZOR, published in 1994. This new document would create unprecedented  tensions in the port-city-citizens relationship.


The POZOR was presented to the public in June 1994, proposing to restructure the complete waterfront, from Algés until to the Expo, giving 12 km of riverfront to the city. The commercial approach was clear, following in some areas a similar scheme to the one introduced by Gravata Filipe.

One of the characteristics of the plan was the dense construction for certain areas, influenced by the British model. It organized the waterfront in six different sections, each one treated differently; at the same time catalogued the existing buildings, either to be kept, refurbished or demolished. The new buildings would totalize 450 000 m2 between Sto. Amaro and Alcântara, and 160 000 m2 in Rocha Conde d’Óbidos – Santos. Included in the plan was the construction of a new shopping mall with 82 000 m2 in Cais do Sodré, by Multi Development Corporation International (MCDI) (Ressano Garcia: 71, 2007).

General Plan of the Intervention Units and the programs. Retrieved from

Social contestation

The public discussion process  was particularly interesting. The project was presented with a public exhibition including a large model and plans, an innovative approach, particularly coming from an organization such as the PA. There were several debate sessions for public participation, taking place in a representative placement like the Alcântara cruise terminal.

Since the plan became public it faced fierce opposition, not just from the civil society or NIMBY[13] movements, but also from reputed specialists from architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning. Social figures from the media and popular intellectuals supported the opposition movement, reaching large press coverage, taking the conflict to a previously unseen polemic. Also in the political sphere the POZOR did not counted with much support. The mayor at the time, Jorge Sampaio, rejected the proposal of the PA, claiming that the port land recovered for urban uses should be planned for the city’s general good (Costa, 2006). This author explains how the discussion reached the national political debate, being even argued whether the planning capabilities of the port ought to be limited[14].

POZOR newspaper clip
Newspaper clip from 1994 describing the debate around the POZOR Pland and the different positions. Jornal de Noticias, October 11th 1994, Retrieved from the Architectural Chamber Library.

POZOR in the newspapers


The massive social contestation forced the PA to retract itself immediately and offer an alternative. In 1995 a second version of the plan was presented, removing the new planned construction and the real estate operation, focusing on new public spaces for the city. The plan kept the same scheme, dividing the waterfront into six different sections, with 4 different vectors (buildings, connections, parking and zoning). The main point was to study each case without proceeding to large scale transformations.

Another difference to the previous POZOR was the collaboration between public organizations. If in the former plan the PA practically operated by itself, cooperating with private companies, for the new document it established an intense dialogue process with the municipality.

Short after the new plan was presented, a new board took charge. Cabral, the new head of the board, stated the PA would, from that point on, focus on port development (Matias Ferreira, 1997)

POZOR Results

Finally, the POZOR 2 was never concluded, but, as with other plans in Lisbon on the 20th century, it guided several PA’s waterfront interventions. Although in this second version the public space and leisure facilities had an important role, the trust of the local residents in the PA never recovered. The results of the plan were mainly visible in the western section of the waterfront, where a new access to the river was created, including green areas. In Santo Amaro former warehouses were refurbished to host restaurants and clubs. Several parking and marinas were also developed. In 1995 the APL and CML began to cooperate, mainly for the redevelopment of certain public spaces and connections, particularly in the western section, from Cais do Sodré until Algés, including three priority interventions and identifying 11 crossings in different levels (Craveiro & Soares, 1997), some of which several were built.

Sto Amaro Docks
Sto. Amaro Docks today. This was one of the regenerated areas on the waterfront after the POZOR

Personal Comment on the POZOR Process – Institutional Framework

The POZOR is an interesting case to analyse the repercussions of path dependency, institutional plasticity and social expectations. In this article we have seen how the PA intended to act beyond what we can strictly consider its core activities, i.e. port activities management. The formal institutional framework gave the PA the capabilities to draft urban development plans, in the legislation it is indicated that it would be allowed to manage its territory beyond the port activities, including leisure or cultural programs. With this plan the PA saw the opportunity to do an “all around” operation, theoretically creating positive externalities to all the involved stakeholders.

The financing of the new terminal in Trafaria was connected to the real estate operation on the northern side of the river. As we have seen, the main intervention was between Cais do Sodré and Alcântara, curiously an area without any relevant public spaces on the port level, and with a strong infrastructural barrier, including a bright avenue and the railway line. The city should also benefit from this operation since the new waterfront would theoretically be open for all the citizens, increasing the public riverfront area. The issues before described, lack of public and green spaces, visual impact and possible gentrification, were the main drawbacks.

The process of institutional plasticity and change, as explained by Buitelaar et al. (2012) implies a complex succession of factors, that eventually leads to an institutional change. In the case of Lisbon we can actually see the reverse process. Although the institutional framework allowed the PA to execute the plan it proposed, since it was entirely within its territorial boundaries, the social context along with certain planning decisions, triggered a reverse procedure in which, instead of institutional plasticity, institutional rigidity took place. The general society had created specific expectations for the PA role, the riverfront and the relation between the river and the city. The PA was seen as a non-democratic organization, pending from the central government, with a very specific function, in charge of managing a specific territory for a certain function, port activities (Matias Ferreira, 1997). In other words we could say there was a certain expectation, a path dependency, not decided by the PA or the port community but by the social image of this particular body. On the other hand, the process started in 1988, concerning the relation between the city and the river, created a certain desire among the inhabitants, to gain an access to the river, seen as the key identity element of the city. The proposals presented in the competitions privileged this point of view. The municipal plans were also drafted in this direction.

The timing, location and scope of the POZOR also affected its fate negatively. There was already a significant waterfront regeneration process taking place in the city, the Expo, that hindered the possible institutional support from the national government. The municipality was already “left out” of the Expo process, due to the creation of the Parque Expo, therefore there was a precedent distrust. This corporation, created by the central government, had, as we have seen, supra-municipal powers, similar to the PA, and operated above the traditional urban planning scheme. The priority for the central government was the success of the Expo, therefore the support for the POZOR was compromised from the start.

The location also presented issues. We have seen how this central section of the waterfront has stronger roots in Lisbon´s history, hence any intervention could easily awake certain sensibilities. On the opposite side, the EXPO was on the eastern part of the city, where the urban tissue was not (and still is not) so consolidated. Any intervention here would imply less discussion or protest.

Finally the plan´s character and design principles were unfitted for the context. The influence of British plans for urban waterfronts, which often included dense real estate operations,  affected the POZOR negatively, passing an image of a strong gentrification development, in an area for which the local population had higher expectations. It is important to consider that, in general terms, the civil society, might well not understand the issues of planning boundaries, been an apparent continuum, therefore a strong image can easily be created. The density and program of the first draft triggered the social protest we have seen. Curiously, the process was innovative and could be considered a positive example for its participatory nature. Although the public discussion did not provided the positive feedback expected by the PA, it did set an interesting example for future planning initiatives.

The bricoleurs, the actors that in Buitelaar et al. (2012) model would pressure to change the institutional framework, in this case did the opposite, pressuring politicians and decision makers to install a process of institutional rigidity, reducing the PA planning powers. In this context we could say the PA´s path dependency harmed its expectations of acting beyond its usual realm, and finding an extra financing resource for other port infrastructure. Although eventually the proposed legislation change did not succeeded, probably linked to the retreat of the plan by the PA, the complete process did narrowed the development path of the PA in several ways. It was clear that any sort of large urban planning intervention led by the PA would be critically observed. The general role of the PA was associated with port activities, and only certain low-impact actions to implement leisure programs, linked with heritage refurbishment would be socially accepted. We can find different examples of this in the last 20 years. The release of riverfront areas for public and green spaces would be accepted. The connection with the new municipal plans had to be consulted and encouraged, since one of the main critics by the municipality planners was the apparent disregard towards the new masterplan and partial plans.

Among the issues and path narrowing process installed in the PA after the POZOR, one of the most worrying ones is the reduced interaction that followed this period, concerning public consultation processes. The NIMBY phenomenon that took place during the plan’s public presentation might have been reinforced due to the openness of the PA. We could then argue to what point would be on the PA´s best interest to encourage public participation in future plans and projects that might have an impact in the riverfront. Also, as said in an interview[15], the PA the communication is done using the official channels, contacting the municipality or other representative institutions, not directly with the citizens as it was with the POZOR. In this case we could ask ourselves to what extend will the CML explain the APL´s point of view, needs or even positive impact. This issue will be explored in the cruise terminal project, an example of port facility that has been considered crucial to experiment with the port-city-citizen relationship (Figueira de Sousa, 2003).

PDM and Municipal Strategic Plan 

In 1989 a new political[16] team arrived to the city hall, starting an intense period of municipal change and planning (Leite, 2008). Previously we have seen the state initiative with the Expo 98 and the port ambitions for the waterfront in the POZOR plan. In this section we will briefly describe Lisbon´s first strategic plan and the successive city masterplan. The transition from the 1980s to the 1990s potentiated the notion of Lisbon as capital of a Metropolitan area, and the need to compete in international context to attract investment. The city suffered several unsolved problems. During this time the first city development plan, drafted during democracy, was published and implemented.

Strategic plan

Lisbon´s strategic plan, approved in 1992, was the first document of new strategic planning system, also including the PDM and the priority plans and projects (Craveiro, 2004). The PEL (Plano Estratégico de Lisboa) was mainly a socioeconomic instrument to define the principal development vectors and areas, and support the political and decision making processes (Leite, 2008). This new scheme proposed a new urban development model, including eight key points. To connect the city with the river was one of the top priorities, also including the redevelopment of historic areas in the centre, the regeneration of the eastern section, improvement of public transport system and reducing urban expansion towards the north. The main general goals for the strategic plan were to modernize the city, improving the general life quality and allowing it to compete with other European metropolises, reassure Lisbon´s role as metropolitan capital and improve the administrative system. During this period Lisbon was already losing population, a tendency that would increase along the 1990s.

For the scope of this investigation, connecting the city with the river is the most important aspect.  The plan considered four different city sections, being one of them the riverfront. For this sector the municipality pretended to recover the connection with the Tagus, without harming the port (Craveiro & Soares, 1997). In this scenario the competition concerning the waterfront organized by the architectural association and sponsored by the PA, created positive precedent. The municipality recognized PA´s effort in the recent waterfront regeneration projects, particularly the new public spaces by the river.

PEL 1992
PEL 1992. Retrieved from Neves, 2013 (

During the following years the municipality developed several plans for the riverfront surroundings, in which the reuse of heritage elements played an important role. These plans concerned mostly areas in the western and eastern sections of the city. Once again the idea of burying the railway, and later also the road, was discussed. In the scope of the plan several key operations[17] were identified to reinforce the connection between the city and the river, mostly taking place in the western and central waterfront section, affecting several locations with relevant monuments. These concrete actions were destined to areas controlled by the municipality, such as Praça do Comércio, or in which port activities were not suitable, mostly from Alcântara to Belém. To improve the connection several crossings in different locations along the barrier were planned.

The PEL was adapted during the drafting process, to include the development of the expo in the eastern section of the city. Initially this plan proposed to develop in this area the gate of the city, profiting from its connectivity with national and international transportation networks, as we have previously seen.

PDM 1994

The PDM approved in 1994 was the first city masterplan since 1977. This document was part of the new planning strategy promoted by the new municipal government, following the development path set by the strategic plan aforementioned. It was also coordinated with other documents drafted at the same time, such as the PROT-AML (Plano Regional de Ordenamento do Território – Área Metropolitana de Lisboa), or the detail plans drafted for different city locations.

In the plan, as it happened in the PEL, the territory was organized in 4 different areas, being one of them the riverfront. Among the key goals was again the connection with the river, identified as one of the key elements Lisbon should relate with, the second one was the metropolitan area. In the PDM report the connection with the estuary is highlighted defining Lisbon as a river-city (cidade ribeirinha). The port is not assumed as a key identity element, although we could consider it is included in the river-city character, port activities, as we have previously seen, had a strong influence in the city’s economy, identity and urban development (PDM, Relatório Síntese, 1994).

To improve the connection with the river several actions were proposed. The first one was to integrate port areas, improving the port access and complementary services. Other measures included better organization of river transport with Lisbon’s transport interfaces, enhancing public areas on the riverfront, integration of the infrastructural barrier formed by the railway and roads, and establish the view system defended in the same PDM, strengthening the visual relation.

One interesting issue was the Expo area. Parque Expo was responsible for the land where the event would take place, including its after-expo development. For this reason the municipality had to discuss with them the solution and redevelopment of the section of the city. The APL and Loures municipality were also included in the conversation. In the PDM, the eastern edge of Lisbon was still considered the new logistic platform. The integration of port and transport infrastructure was one of the main goals, considering these area crucial for the productive activities in the metropolitan area.

PDM 1994
PDM 1994. In orange we can see the Expo area, controlled by the new public company Parque Expo. Retrieved from:

The basic PDM intervention unit were the UOP (Unidade Operativa de Planeamento e Gestão). There were 30 UOP identified in the whole plan of which seven affected the riverfront (Costa, 2006). This author explains that the PDM was more specific than the PEL regarding the possible land uses, including industrial buildings refurbishment to host other programs, such as offices or housing. The relation with the APL was made via specific agreements for concrete issues, such as the port communication, roads and railway.


Once the Expo was finished, the planning horizon for the post-event period expanded until 2009. The municipality began to work on the redevelopment of the surrounding territory to integrate the “new urbanity island” the EXPO area was about to become (Matias Ferreira, 1999).

The new plan to regenerate the eastern edge of Lisbon was named PUZRO (Plano de Urbanização da Zona Ribeirinha Oriental – Urbanization Plan for the Eastern Riverfront) and continued the work developed in the plan for the surroundings of the Expo, practically assuming the same boundaries. The intervention area was structured around four axis, three running parallel to the river (Av. Infante dom Henrique, the interior street from Rua da Madre Deus to Rua Fernando Palha and the railway line) and the avenue Marechal Gomes da Costa expanding from the riverfront towards the north. In total, the covered area was 418,1 Ha, including 4,5 km of riverfront.

A first version of the plan was presented in 2001, although not approved, partly due to the remarks given by the regional development commission. Afterwards it was decided it would become an strategic document, finally republished in 2008,  renamed: “Documento Estratégico de Monitorização da Zona Ribeirinha Oriental” (Strategic Document for Eastern Riverfront Control).

Planta Puzro
PUZRO Plan The doted line indicates the boundary of the planning area. Retrieved from.

The original plan, although was never approved, it guided the redevelopment of the area during the following years, a process we have often seen in Lisbon’s recent urban history. The PUZRO included a detailed analysis of the existing industrial heritage, while at the same time, potentiated the redevelopment of large industrial sites and planned new public facilities. From this document several relevant detail plans were drafted, of which we will briefly mention two, Plano de Pormenor do Braço de Prata and the Plano de Pormenor da Matinha.

The first one, from 1999, consisted in the redevelopment of a military industrial site. Although initially included larger areas, it finally affected 10 Ha of land. Renzo Piano was the leading architect behind the project. Some of the most relevant features included the integration of the avenue Infante dom Henrique into the new urban structure, releasing the riverfront for a new public garden. This new green space was supposed to take place in port territory, and be paid by private developer. In figures the project proposed 142500 m2 plus 5500 m2 for public facilities. Being 72% for housing, 16% for economical activities and 12% for services. (Costa, 2006). The project has suffered several setbacks, and is today under development. For the moment only few structures are visible being unknown the completion date. In an interview with planners from the CML[18], it was said the property developers had presented an updated version of the project for approval, therefore it was supposed the construction should be resumed shortly.

In this plan the riverfront park was a relevant issue. It implied the release of port land for public use and a new green space financed by the private developer. In this case we can observe the possible malfunction and inefficiencies of the planning system. The APL released the land for the new green area in 2009[19]. The plan could bring positive outcomes, since it would give this area a new access to the river, increasing its appeal for further private investment. The problem, as it often happens when the public redevelopment depends of private investors, was the project delay. During this time the land has remained abandoned, without any maintenance. Since previously it used to be port land the port image is affected, due to the assumption the PA is still responsible for its caring. This situation raises the question about the relevance of public plans if the development of key elements relay on private hands.

Braço de Prata plan. In the image we also see the Matinha plan. Retrieved from:

The second detail plan (Plano de Pormenor), concerns Matinha, between Braço de Prata plot and the Expo. In this territory we can find gasometer structures, acting as landmark from an industrial past. The final version of the plan was published in 2011, included the redevelopment of the area from the gasometers until the riverfront, affecting an area of 31,5 Ha, included in the UOP 28. Initially, the uses planned in the 1994 PDM for this area were related with investigation and technology. After the PUZRO was cancelled the municipality changed the program to mixed use including housing and tertiary activities. The project is characterized by a central green axis, framing the industrial heritage on one extreme, connecting with the riverfront park on the other. The new buildings are designed perpendicular to the river, following a similar concept to Renzo Piano’s project, but on a larger scale. The total construction area would be 339.305 m2.

matinha - risco
PP Matinha. This plan links the former Expo area with the new real estate development in Braço de Prata. Retrieved from:

Since the plan was published the plot has not suffered any alteration. No construction nor real estate development has been announced, remaining an industrial landfill during this time. The location could be considered quite attractive, since it is near a new area such as the Parque das Nações (former Expo 98), but until now there has been no private investor. Once again the issue aforementioned appears, the municipality might produce plans but the redevelopment depends on market operations.

In the strategic document the interaction with the port was explained on article 7, indicating that any urban action to be taken within the realm of this plan must include PA approval.


The decade between the 1988 competition and the EXPO 1998 meant a significant change in the way local residents looked at the river. The Tagus was no longer just reference in literature and history, but a space for the citizens to enjoy. This period was also relevant in terms of planning and stakeholders positioning. The PA development/action path was narrowed due to the social protest, and to some extent marked its role for the following decade.

During these years the foundations for Lisbon’s contemporary development were built. The planning frenzy gave many projects, some of them still under construction today. The image of the city was transformed, as so it was the ambitions of the inhabitants regarding public space and riverfront areas.

Four key moments, happening almost simultaneously, decided the interaction between the actors. Although two of them did not left the drafting table, motivated either by their nature (ideas competition of 1988) or by the public repulse (POZOR), they set the course for action for the following years. The first brought attention to an issue until them ignored for decades, the relation between the city and the river, while the second introduced an innovative approach, such as the participative process, although it played against the own  interests of the APL, narrowing its future realm. The Port Authority, in the good tradition of Lisbon, did eventually developed some projects included in the plan although the document itself was not properly implemented.

The public discussion about the POZOR had a greater relevance than what it might have seen at the time. It was not just a rejection of planning ideas and design, it eventually decided what the PAs are and are not allowed to do in Portugal. The institutional rigidity did not occurred immediately, but, as we will see in following articles, it indicated APL’s future path and functions. Eventually new legislation was passed, a decade after the first plan, that narrowed the scope of the PA, limiting its capabilities.




Administração do Porto de Lisboa.(2007) Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento do Porto de Lisboa – Relatório Síntese. Lisboa: Administração do Porto de Lisboa, 144 p.

Brandão, P. (1988). Prefácio. In P. Brandão & F. Jorge (Eds.), Lisboa, a cidade e o rio – concurso de ideias para a renovação da zona ribeirinha de Lisboa. (pp. 3–4). Lisbon: Associação de Arquitectos Portugueses..

Breen, A., & Rigby, D. (1994). Waterfronts: cities reclaim their edge. McGraw-Hill.

Buitelaar, E., Lagendijk, A., & Jacobs, W. (2007). A theory of institutional change: illustrated by Dutch city-provinces and Dutch land policy. Environment and Planning A, 39, 891–908.

Cabral, N. (2001). Giving New Life to the Riverfront Areas of the Port of Lisbon. Portus, (1), 32–37.

Castro, A., & Lucas, J. (1999). A Expo’ 98 – Cronologia de um Processo. In V. Matias Ferreira & F. Indovina (Eds.), A cidade da EXPO 98 (pp. 345–422). Lisbon: Bizâncio.

Cid, M. S., & Reis, D. (Org.) (1999). Documentos para a história da Expo ’98 1989-1992. Lisbon: Parque Expo 98 SA.

CML – Salgado, M. (2011) Proposta 2/12/2011.

Costa, J. P. T. D. A. (2006). La ribera entre proyectos : formación y transformación del territorio portuario, a partir del caso de Lisboa. Barcelona : Universidade de Catalunha.

Craveiro, M. T., & Soares, L. B. (1997). Ligar a cidade ao Tejo: zona ribeirinha – estratégia e programa de intervenção CML/APL – 1990-1995. In A. Caessa & M. Gomes Martins (Eds.), Actas das sessões do II Colóquio temático Lisboa Ribeirinha (pp. 401–406). Lisbon: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa – Departamento de Parimonio Cultural Divisão de Arquivos.

Craveiro, M. T. (2004). A retoma do planeamento estratégico 2001-2005 na cidade de Lisboa. GeoInova, 10, 221–239.

Desfor, G., & Jørgensen, J. (2004). Flexible urban governance. The case of Copenhagen’s recent waterfront development. European Planning Studies, 12, 479–496.

Figueira de Sousa, J., & Fernandes, A. (2012). Metamorfoses da cidade portuária: transformações da relação entre o porto e a cidade de Lisboa. Confins, (15). Retrieved from ; DOI : 10.4000/confins.7702

França, J. A. (1997). Lisboa: urbanismo e arquitectura (3rd ed.). Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Guimarães, F. J. (2006). Cidade portuaria, o porto e as suas constantes mutações. Lisboa: Parque Expo.

Leite, M. A. D. F. D., & Craveiro, M. T. (2008). Entrevista a Maria Teresa Craveiro: O processo de Planeamento Estratégico em Lisboa: Dilemas, desafios e resultados. Oculum – Ensaios, Revista de Arquitectura E Urbanismo, 165–174.

Matias Ferreira, V., Rodrigues, W., Casanova, J. L., Castro, A., Wemans, L., & Amor, T. (1997). Lisboa – A metrópole e o rio. (V. Matias Ferreira, Ed.). Lisbon: Bizâncio.

Matias Ferreira, V., & Indovina, F. (1999). A cidade da EXPO 98. (V. M. Ferreira & F. Indovina, Eds.). Lisbon: Bizâncio.

Morgado, S. (2005). Protagonismo de la ausencia. Interpretación urbanística de la formación metropolitana de Lisboa desde lo desocupado. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona. Retrieved from

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (1987). 100 anos do porto de Lisboa. Lisboa: Administração do Porto de Lisboa.

Pagés Sánchez, J. M. (2011). Frente ribeirinha e cidade. Equipamentos públicos culturais como solução de conexão e regeneração. Universidade Técnica de Lisboa.

Olivier, D., & Slack, B. (2006). Rethinking the Port. Environment and Planning A, 38(8), 1409–1427.

Ressano Garcia, P. (2007). Life and death of the Lisbon waterfront – Vida e morte do porto de Lisboa. Universidade Portucalense Infante D. Henrique.

Salgado, M. (2012). Reconquista da Frente Ribeirinha de Lisboa. Portusplus, 3(12).

Schubert, D. (2011). Seaport Cities: Phases of spatial restructuring. In C. Hein (Ed.), Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (1st ed., pp. 54–69). New York: Routledge.

Ward, S. V. (2011). Port cities and the global exchange of planning ideas. In C. Hein (Ed.), Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (1st ed., pp. 70–85). New York: Routledge.

Wemans, L. (1999). A EXPO 98 – da avaliação económica aos custos sociais. O custo zero, a engenharia financeira e od défice de setenta milhões. In V. Matias Ferreira & F. Indovina (Eds.), A cidade da EXPO 98 (pp. 252–287). Lisbon: Bizâncio.

Legal Documents:

Decreto Lei 207/93 14 de Junho

Decreto Lei 100/2008

Decreto Lei 336/98 3 de Novembro

Projeto de Lei 85/VII presentado in 1996

Resolução em conselho de ministros 87/2009, em 3 de Setembro de 2009

[1] According to the strategic plans and activity reports, the Iberian peninsula is the main hinterland of the port of Lisbon, more specifically the western side from Madrid. For this reason it is relevant the competition with the Spanish ports. The agro-food industry grew considerably due to the investment in the 1980s. Currently the port still is one of the leading players in this type of cargo, competing with Girona and Barcelona. (APL, 2007)

[2] The large industrial conglomerates had a stronger presence in the south side of the river, with companies related to heavy actitivies, such as Quimigal in Barreiro, Lisnave in Almada and Siderurgia Nacional in Seixal (Costa, 2006, Nabais& Ramos, 1987)

[3]The law for this change was the DL nº 336/98 3rd of November. Lisbon’s Port Authority was then renamed as “Administração Portuária de Lisboa” (APL).

[4] Although this statement is widely accepted, some scholars like Costa (2006), mention the Casa dos Bicos refurbishment project, referred previously, as another important moment for the waterfront regeneration movement. This project had an important impact, however, from our perspective, is not as relevant as the following plans, since it was an isolated intervention, more linked with the identity value of the heritage and historic waterfront.

[5] The riverfront, as we can see in paintings and photographs, was mostly build, without a continuous public space along the water. In previous chapters we have seen how the concept of a Tagus promenade appeared in the 19th century, remaining in the general psyche. The access to the water were limited to the places where some economic activities were taking place, such as port, commerce or fishing. The only locations where a “leisure” by the water would take place was on the beaches in the western part of Lisbon.

[6] The committee was formed by representatives of the different stakeholders involved in the project. Initially it did not counted with the participation of the PA, but eventually, after the location of the exhibition was decided, the PA was invited, along with Loures municipality. However, the final decision depended of the national government. Different experts were also consulted, particularly in the initial stages to decide the location. The process has been well documented and can be consulted in: Cid, M. S., & Reis, D. (Org.) (1999). Documentos para a história da Expo ’98 1989-1992. Lisbon: Parque Expo 98 SA.

[7]Parque Expo was a QUANGO (Quasi autonomous Non-Government Organization). This sort of publicly owned development companies has been a common vehicle for urban development operations. We can see them in Hamburg, Oslo, Helsinki, and other port-cities. In the case of Lisbon, it continued to operate after the Expo, being responsible for urban management and facilities in the Parque das Nações. The company developed more projects, not just in Portugal. During the early 2000s it developed several riverfront green areas in different Portuguese cities integrated in the POLIS program. Parque Expo was deactivated on December 31st 2016, although its fate had already been decided in 2011 (, consulted on 4/6/2017 11:50).

[8] This sort of operation it is not exclusive from Lisbon. In other waterfront operations similar schemes were followed, for example in Copenhagen. See Desfor& Jørgensen, (2004).

[9] Particularly relevant for this matter is the work developed by Matias Ferreira. Two books were published with the testimonies of different experts. “Lisboa, a Metrópole e o Rio” (1997) and “A Cidade da Expo 98” (1999). In the latter the issues that would affect the overall operation were predicted. The main critic was that in the end the operation was a requalification with new uses and high socio-economical classes, and not a proper regeneration as it was announced during the entire planning process.

[10] During the first stages of the planning and application process the state and the committee defended that the Expo would not cost the state anything, thanks to the real estate operation (Wemans, 1999)

[11]Castro and Lucas (1999) originally indicate 14 million contos, equivalent to 65 mill € approx. According to the National Statistical Institute of Portugal (INE) 65 mill€ adjusted to 2016, after the inflation would be ca. 105,8 million € (

[12] In the answer to the BIE survey from October the 7th of 1991, to evaluate the Portuguese application the committee explicitly indicated that the public owner ship of the PA by the central state was an advantage, granting the absence of any social conflict. (Parque Expo, 1999)

[13] The acronym NIMBY stands for: Not In My Backyard. These sort of civil movements opposing real estate or infrastructural developments can often be found in port related situations.

[14] There was a law project presented by deputies of the PCP, to reduce the powers of the APL. The project was: Projeto de Lei 85/VII presented in 1996 and finally dismissed. (

[15] Interview with APL representatives, Mariana Teixeira and Carla Matos, on December 16th 2015.

[16] The new major was Jorge Sampaio, later to become Portugal´s president.

[17]According to Craveiro & Soares (1997) the anchor projects were: Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, Cordoaria, Standard Eléctrica, Alcântara-Rio, Janelas Verdes, Aterro da Boavista, Ribeira das Naus, and Terreiro do Paço.

[18] Interview with Arch. Pedro Dinis, head of the public space department inside the CML. The meeting took place on December 21st 2015

[19] This agreement was based on the law DL 100/2008 stating the release of port land no longer hosting port activities. The official accord was approved by the Minister Council on September 3rd 2009  (Resolução do Conselho de Ministros 87/2009). In the Analysis Unit 3 this operation between the CML and APL will be further explored, since it included other riverfront locations.

Rethinking the Clyde Waterfront

Rethinking the Clyde Waterfront

On October last year I had the chance to participate in a workshop organized by the ISOCARP and ITACUS, in collaboration with Glasgow city council. The scope of the workshop was to gather a group of young professionals from different fields, such as (underground) engineering, architecture and planning, and produce visions for Glasgow’s waterfront, more specifically the western section. During one week we worked together in groups of five trying to find a coherent concept for the riverfront, combine our expertise. The final result was a report with the proposals developed by the groups.

Here we explain the proposal of the group formed by Juan David Herrera, Tierney Lovell, José M P SánchezWouter Pocornie and Nicolas Ziv. The work of the other groups is available in the report.

Welding the Weegie Waterfront:

The story of Lucy

As a result of decades of industrial decline, the Clyde waterfront is lacking in vibrancy, coherence, built character and a sense of place. There are a significant number of vacant and derelict sites, large areas of surface-level car parking, a number of sizeable monolithic land uses and little sense of the area’s historic legacy.

In addition, the site examined has particularly poor pedestrian connectivity. Both as a result of the Clydeside Expressway, poor east-west connections along the river walkway, poor north-south connections across the river and little access or visual connection with the river itself. This has created a sense of isolation away from the vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods around it, particularly Govan and the West End.

Industrial heritage on the site

The site has a rich heritage of great significance for Glaswegians (see section 2.3), although little tangible built evidence of this remains. Our group title ‘Welding the Weegie Waterfront’ makes reference to the area’s historic past, where the term ‘Clyde Built’ was once a world-renowned description of ships built with outstanding craftsmanship and quality. It is our intention to explore how the regeneration of the Clyde could take a similarly carefully-crafted approach that is rooted in the area’s sense of place and can once again become an area for which Glaswegians can take pride.

The site investigations that informed this report explored the extents of the area, from the City Centre to the working Govan shipyards, including both north and south of the Clyde. Surveying Finnieston, Partick, Govan and Pacific Quay, as well as the Riverside Museum, Govan Graving Docks and a number of vacant and derelict sites, we navigated the barriers of water and motorway infrastructure in the process. Evidence was gathered from conversations with local users of the river, and by getting down onto the water itself, with a boat ride. Both these particular perspectives have been primary inspirations for our strategy for the Clyde.

This has led to an approach that re-frames the city from the point of view of the river and re-examines the river from the perspective of the people of Glasgow themselves (or ‘Weegies’ – a perhaps controversial but familiar local term).

In line with this approach, we have created a persona through which to test our strategy for the site. While there will be more than one person’s perspective of the site, for the purposes of this study, we have explored one experience in detail. She has become an example of a Weegie who is exploring the Waterfront. We have called her Lucy MacDonald.

Lucy’s story and Lucy as a planning/participatory tool

The methodology

The methodology we have developed during the workshop is based on systems engineering and systems thinking. Our methodology is summed up in the diagram below:

The Methodology

Study the environment – site visits, maps and GCC presentations

The first step of the methodology consists of analysing the environment by a territorial diagnosis; both its constraints and its opportunities. Due to time limits and the format of the workshop, we analysed the environment with the help of Glasgow City Council’s (GCC) presentations, maps (provided by GCC) and two site visits. One visit was alongside the river walkway by foot and another one was by boat on the river itself. This analysis allowed us to define the present state of the Clyde waterfront:

  • Activities (site visits + GCC presentations)
  • Climate (site visits + GCC presentations)
  • Topography (site visits + map)
  • Built environment (site visits + maps)
  • Urban form (site visits + maps)
  • Geology (maps + GCC presentation)
  • Space use (site visits + maps + GCC presentation)

Define the needs –Lucy’s story

The next step in our methodology consisted of defining people’s needs near the Clyde waterfront. We asked the question – what do people want to do on, and near the waterfront? This focuses on assessing needs through desired future realities. This approach could be considered a ‘bottom-up’ approach because it emphasizes citizens as primary stakeholders.  What would we (as planners consulting the Council) like the people to be able to do in this area? This approach is more ‘top-down’ as it emphasises the public institution of the Council as a point of departure. Using both of these approaches – ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top down’ – will help to shape the future activities alongside the Clyde Waterfront.

A problem with urban planning is that needs are related to spaces, however, spaces are shared resources and people all have different needs. Therefore, it could be very difficult to satisfy every citizen of Glasgow with limited available space. Importantly, the renovation of the Clyde does not only require the determination and analysis of needs, but also frames the area’s evolution over time.  For example, for the next 20 years or more.

In order to understand how the site could be attractive to Glaswegians, we wrote the story of a fictional character: Lucy MacDonald. She’s a young woman who represents one experience of living on the Clyde Waterfront in the year 2040. Within the YPTDP workshop, we chose to imagine what life would be like for the people of Glasgow in the next 20 years as well as what could inspire them. During this workshop, we imagined one week* of Lucy’s life on the waterfront (but other timeframes could also be explored further – one day, one year, etc.). In essence, we are using Lucy’s story as a narrative for city development. This narrative could be further researched and more extensively analysed and enriched. Lucy is adopted as a persona that represents a specific demographic, and investigative research can help to build her story: What are her needs in 2040 that would help to attract this demographic to Glasgow?

In this workshop, we only used one persona. We used the story of Lucy, but stories of other Glaswegians with different characteristics (varying demographics – gender, age, socio-economic background, etc.), could also be imagined to explain the needs of other Glaswegians. While infinite stories could be told, for the purposes of this planning tool, the number of personas should be limited and carefully targeted, in order to explain the necessary variation of experience, while allowing people to focus on the planning proposals. The story should be used to assist the planning process. It’s an enabling system that allows the principal focus in the project to remain at the centre: Rethinking the Clyde Waterfront. In our project this is: Welding the Weegie Waterfront.

Ideally, even Lucy’s story itself is written by Glaswegians themselves. If made possible, Lucy’s story could be used as a participatory tool.**  Glaswegians writing the story themselves could be arranged, for example, by using a combination of big data and social media. Popular channels on social media could enable various ways of interacting, rating, and providing content. Examples of these are Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.



Locate Lucy’s activities in space and time

Lucy’s needs are then translated into activities. This step consists of assigning spaces as well as a specific timeframe (i.e. time of day/week/year) that allow activities to take place. Activities are allocated to space and time independently. Since one of the objectives by GCC was to implement place-based solutions, we use the Clyde as our main spatial departure point. Looking from the Clyde, we explored potential zones along the Waterfront, crossing the banks and, in so doing, reactivating them. Lucy’s story provides this perspective from the Clyde to the city.

Allocate activities on the surface

The first space allocation takes place on the surface, on the banks of the Clyde, above ground. During the workshop, and as a direct result of site analysis undertaken, we created a series of layered maps allocating various activities to different spaces. Each map layer explored one type of activity distributed along the waterfront.[1]

As a starting point, we identified where Lucy’s activities were already present near the Clyde and developed them, where necessary, by improving or expanding their program and functions.

For new activities to the Waterfront, sites were allocated in relation to the varying spatial requirements for different activities. These were then strategically coordinated in order to have activities throughout the day (and night) alongside the Clyde.

Allocate activities in time

One objective of the Glasgow City Council is to transform the Clyde Waterfront into a vibrant place. According to this statement, activities should be allocated to have activities on the Waterfront throughout the day. Certain activities had to be re-allocated to meet this requirement.

Allocate activities on the ground, above the ground or underground

The result of this methodology was that different activities were superimposed on the same space. The following possibilities were formulated:

  • To use the same space for different activities at various parts of the day;
  • To use underground and above ground spaces for a multitude of various activities;
  • To combine both possibilities;

[1]Layer such as:  Business; Green/Landscape; Living; Road network & infrastructural nodes: station, highway, bridges; Sport & Health; Education; Culture

Design and engineering

After activities have been located in both space and time (in a way that addresses citizens’ needs as much as possible), it is then necessary to develop spatial solutions for each defined activity. This moved the process from planning towards more architectural- and engineering-based conversations. Within the group, architects and engineers then worked together to define the best solutions within the technical constraints.

These engineering and architectural constraints then led to further strategic conversations around the allocations of activities in both space and time. There were two main types of constraint; the constraints arising directly from the product itself (structural constraints, technological constraints, geological constraints, etc.) and the constraints caused by the enabling system (organizational, regulatory, contracting, financing, etc.). During the development of the product, they both interact and influence each other. In system engineering this process is explained by the “Vee-cycle” development tool:

Vee-cycle development tool

This cycle explains the classic development of a product starting with defining the needs towards its operation, and later the destruction/reuse. It starts with formulating “system requirements” towards “component” requirements in the evolution of the project. During the workshop, we only studied the system requirements due to time constraint. We can see that both constraints from the proposed system and the enabling system can influence the solution.

For example, at times, we decided that it could be useful to have two underground storeys and four aboveground storeys to house the activities defined by Lucy’s needs. However, due to geological constraints 2 underground storeys were not possible (this constraint comes from the proposed system) and because of the Local Development Plan it is not possible to have more than 3 floors (this constraint comes from the enabling system). Then we will have to find another solution to undertake the activities, for example to find a new space on the Clyde, or to lower the quality of service related to the chosen activities. There is a feedback loop between the citizens’ (personas like Lucy) needs and the architectonic solution developed by architects and engineers.

Vision/Strategy: From the city to the river and from the river to the city – working with the edges

Lucy on the waterfront

During our analysis and site visits, we were able to experience the river directly from the water. Our perception of the river was transformed when viewed directly from a boat rather than from the more conventional viewing points along the riverbanks. We also noticed that the river is unique in its ability to connect the city from east to west. In order to change the role of the waterfront in the city and to reactivate it, we decided that it was crucial to work with the edges and to capitalize upon the river’s potential to connect the city from east to west.

In our story, Lucy Macdonald is able to spend her whole day along the waterfront. In this imagined future, it is possible to be by the river, experience different interactions with the water and enjoy the unique atmosphere found along the Clyde. At the moment, the riverbanks work almost exclusively as a fast bike-lane. People use it to travel east-west, from the outskirts to the city centre. One of the goals of our proposals is to complement the existing program, creating spaces where people would like to stay, not just pass by quickly.

RDM Campus in Rotterdam

Lucy’s typical day would begin in a new start-up hub, next to the shipyards, where an opportunity area has already been detected by the municipality. After an entire morning working in her new company, she would then cross the river to go for a run. Lucy could cross the Clyde with a new ferry service or the Clyde Tunnel, now improved and more pedestrian-friendly. On the north side of the Clyde, she would jog along the river enjoying the widened and improved public space that now continues more seamlessly to the city centre. Later, she could either study in the knowledge centre, meet a friend in a café or go shopping in a new retail area.

The Edges – Active topographies

Riverfront of Lyon by In Situ Architectes Paysagistes

The quay walls of the river Clyde currently act as a vertical barrier that keep the people far from the water. To improve this situation, we propose to deconstruct these edges, creating a “soft” transition between the river level and the city level. Bringing people closer to the water, and ‘softening’ this transition is, we believe, crucial to the redevelopment of the Clyde. Within the site boundary, several locations where the idea of platforms at different levels could be implemented, were identified. These varying heights could allow a more intense integration of different programs, creating a complex and “active” topography.

Chicago Riverwalk by Sasaki

The following images illustrate different examples of urban waterfront regeneration, bringing people closer to the water. One example, Lyon, creates several typologies of public spaces by the water, where people can stay, run or play. These lower spaces offer protection from the traffic existing on the ground level and give people a new perception of the river and their city’s relationship to it. Chicago has adopted a similar approach, but on a different scale. The river, which clearly has an urban character, is far lower than the street. Making the most of this height

EWHA University Campus by Dominique Perrault

difference, it was possible to implement a program of cafés and restaurants under street level and closer to the water. This intervention has brought life and diversity to the river bank. It is no longer just a place for sports but also a place to go out at night or have coffee after lunch. Working with different levels brings a panoply of possibilities, from educational programs to roof gardens. The Ewha University of Seoul provides an example of the possible integration strategy the Knowledge Centre where Lucy might study could adopt. The possibility of reading, studying or seeing an exhibition while also looking at the Clyde is a luxury that should be explored in Glasgow.

Sketch of the possible reconfiguration of the Clyde edges

The aforementioned idea requires certain features that are not available along the Waterfront. For this reason, our approach has been tailored to specific sites, and some locations require a totally different approach. On the western section of our intervention area, the new Glasgow Harbour residential development is situated. These new buildings are located close to the river’s edge, making it harder to implement the idea of the deconstructed edge. However, the main goal of experiencing the Clyde from different perspectives can nonetheless still be achieved. Instead, increasing the existing public space with a cantilever platform would also bring people closer to the water and to the centre of the river. This intervention would help to strengthen the continuity of public space along the waterfront, creating an atmosphere that is civic and public. In different places on both banks we noticed the feeling of privatisation of common space. The edge was in some cases fenced and impeded the parallel circulation and connection. The new platform could also be complemented by a second floating element along the same section. Here people might be able to touch the water or engage with boats and other floating elements. These ideas, which could also be implemented in other areas along the river, aim to regenerate the relationship between Glaswegians and the water.

Sketch of an alternative reconfiguration of the Clyde edges

Identity on the waterfront

Our proposal is titled “Welding the Weegie Waterfront”. This term appeals to the vernacular of Glasgow and Glaswegians. It refers to a sense of place based on local identity. We believe the plan to be developed in this city should respect and enhance its existing heritage and identity. Along the edges of the river, the idea of identity and heritage is found in remnants of the river’s shipbuilding past. For example, the different former shipyard ramps could offer a third type of interaction with the water. These elements, on both banks, are presently abandoned. They present interesting characteristics that could provide another dimension to the waterfront: the connection with the past.


The final idea for the edges, which affects the entire Waterfront from east to west, is to develop a common identity for this part of the city. The use of a common design language could improve Glaswegians’ perceptions of their river, and could also emphasize the history of the activities that took place in the past along the waterfront. Despite their absence, they continue to contribute to the identity of the city. Remaining heritage elements, from the crane to the former shipyards and the bridges, are currently isolated episodes along the Clyde. An intervention that celebrates the area’s historic assets could improve the quality of the space and the mental image of the Waterfront. We can find an example of this approach in Oslo, where the Havnepromenade works to connecting the entire waterfront. This project stretches along 14 km, linking 14 stations, which explain the history of the local industries along the river. A common language could also be found for urban furniture, graphic design and the design of public spaces. This intervention would be able to, on the one hand, respect different character areas along the waterfront, while also ‘welding’ the river’s edge in its entirety on the other.  It would result in a more coherent image of Glasgow in the mind of Glaswegians and visitors.

Site projects

Lucy’s needs and activities have helped define the main features that may need to be developed along the banks of the Clyde and its vicinity. This section focuses on the site-specific approaches that have been developed at three sites along the river. Building on the approaches outlined in the previous section, a multi-level/multi-purpose approach has been developed to give the river back to the “Weegies” and to weld their roots, needs and well being.

Clyde river banks and Quay walls:

Site Project 1: Clyde river banks and Quay walls

Here is where Lucy’s story showcases a new way to interact with the Clyde river. As outlined above, the intervention alongside Glasgow Harbour could be enriched by the use of cantilevering platforms and floating pontoons. In other zones along the river banks, the quay walls may be able to be modified in order to allow a softer transition between the water level and the current street level. In those locations, the use of concrete structures and prefabricated modules may help to establish a strong water connection for both the north and the south banks of the Clyde.

Another important approach to the quay walls is maintenance. In some places of the Clyde river, there are some quay walls that have failed or are showing some structural affectation. This could be a unique opportunity to implement new structures that connect the street level and the river. They would be less robust than the actual walls and more durable (time). Referring to relevant hydraulic information of the Clyde river would help define where this kind of solution is feasible, taking into account the new uses the river will have (there is no need to have strong quay walls to support the ships docking, etc.), thereby giving to the community a new space for commercial activities.

Some complementary works and further exploration of the particular characteristics of the structures (water resilience, easy cleaning, etc.) will need to be carried out in order to create a new environment that can withstand water level variations as well as enable more active uses of the river banks.

Multi-Level North-South Multilevel Connection (MLNSC)

Site project 2: MLNSC

Even given the short time surveying the Clyde, it became evident that between the “Clyde Arc” bridge and the Clyde tunnel there exists an immediate need to establish stronger physical north-south connections. In developing this idea, it became apparent that two important landmarks could define destinations and zones where this new infrastructure could be placed. The Kelvin river, which flows north to south, and the Riverside Museum standing isolated where the Kelvin meets the Clyde, provide a strong axis and key nodes for what we will call the Multi-level north-south connection (MLNSC).



In order to define the characteristic of this MLNSC, there are two main features that have to be evaluated. The first is the Clydeside Expressway; the east-west motorway along the north bank of the river, and the second is the River Clyde itself.

One common approach could be to bury at least two kilometres of the highway to create a new pathway for north-south connections. However, there is another opportunity that could also overcome the highway “barrier” as well as delivering new useful and weather-protected spaces to Glasgow. This alternative is an underground gallery which starts near the Yorkhill hospital development site between Finnieston and Partick and ends to close to the Clyde river quay walls in front of the Govan Graving Docks.

Is important to note that this underground gallery is conceived and designed as thoroughly integrated with surface level activities. Instead of being conceived as underground, it is viewed as a shifting ground plane. Indeed, the “interface between the above and below ground realms appears to be a critical factor in the acceptability and success of underground spaces.”[1] In this kind of underground work, Glasgow has the advantage of easily excavatable geological conditions in which several tunnels and underground passages have already been developed.

Proposed location for the MLNSC


Schematic drawing of the MLNSC

The other main feature of the MLNSC is the crossing of the Clyde river from the north bank (next to the underground gallery exit) to the Govan graving docks. This connection is conceived as an elevated ‘green’ bridge, with no intermediate pillars nor cables that could interfere with the view from the bridge to the river and the new public spaces along both banks. The use of high strength materials (concrete, steel, etc.) must be considered during the detailed design of this structure.

Finally, the MLNSC will need to be complemented with multi-storey and active buildings that facilitate accessibility to different levels and hence ‘activate the section’. These developments should be used to strengthen the connection between ‘underground’ and elevated passages as well as the ‘deconstructed river edge’ as described earlier. These shifting ground planes will establish new relationships with the river and help Glaswegians to get in touch with the water once again.

Govan Graving docks multipurpose, heritage-focused activities

The Govan Graving Docks offer a significant opportunity to bring new activities into the existing heritage structures to both reflect Glasgow’s important history of shipbuilding, and host new and diverse events.

Site project 3: Govan Graving Docks

First, a renewal of the old dock gates will be required in order to guarantee their watertight function. Next, the emptying of water out of the docks will provide new and unique spaces to the city to be used for local markets, commercial venues, cultural meetings, etc.

Another use for these newly revitalized Graving Docks could be a water retaining structure. A new connection to the sewer system, based on a complete hydraulic design, could enable this empty space to retain excess water during rain periods, allowing the collected flow to be disposed to the Clyde river in delayed stages. The purpose of this design is to ensure that the total flow in the river channel would never exceed its design capacity. As a stand-alone water retaining structure, the Govan Graving Docks could not be the city’s sole method of flood control, but if complemented with similar spaces located elsewhere along the Clyde river course, the cumulative effect could be of great help in mitigating Glasgow’s flood risk.

Conclusion: Welding the Weegie Waterfront takeaways

Our proposal is a way to address the core issue in planning the Clyde waterfront: its lacking in vibrancy, coherence, built character or a sense of place. The proposal aims to improve the connectivity through ‘welding’, which is a process of connecting various areas across the Clyde via new and existing infrastructure. The process is rooted in place and referencing the legacy of the place’s history.

The workshop provided the opportunity to explore how the regeneration of the Clyde could take a carefully-crafted approach that is rooted in the area’s sense of place and can once again become an area for which Glaswegians, or Weegies,  can take pride. This approach can consist of a planning methodology that adopts the persona of Lucy MacDonald and recounts her daily activities in a narrative style.

This methodology could very well be expanded to allow more participants from Glasgow to be involved and become stakeholders. It has a potential to become a participatory tool in planning and our proposed channels are social media and big data. Therefore, Lucy’s story is an approach that re-frames the city from the point of view of the river, while re-examining the river from the perspective of the people of Glasgow themselves. From the perspective of implementation, the story should be used to assist the planning process as an enabling system, which allows the principal focus in rethinking the Clyde Waterfront to remain: Welding the Weegie Waterfront.

It is place making through systems thinking. In systems thinking, two types of constraints must be taken into account:  the constraints arising directly from the product itself (structural constraints, technological constraints, geological constraints, etc.) and the constraints caused by the enabling system (organizational, regulatory, contracting, financing, etc.). During the development of the product they both interact and influence each other and, in systems engineering, this process is explained by the “Vee-cycle” development tool.

Our vision is to change the role of the waterfront in the city and to reactivate it. In essence, the project site is both the problem and the solution. Our strategy could be understood as threefold:

  1. Lucy’s story provides a persona and narrative that focus principally on the Clyde Waterfront. Lucy Macdonald is able to spend her whole day along the waterfront. In this imagined future, it is possible to be by the river, experience different interactions with the water and enjoy the unique atmosphere we find when visiting the Clyde.
  2. The Edges – Active topographies are examples of urban waterfront regeneration, where the result is bringing people closer to the water. In order to achieve this, it is crucial to focus on the edges and also to capitalize upon the river’s potential to connect the city across the river.
  3. Identity on the waterfront: interesting characteristics that could provide another dimension to the waterfront, which enable a connection with the past. In terms of the image of the city, this component aims to unify the area on a larger scale through a design language.

Our proposed approach to planning and our strategy are illustrated with three site projects:

  1. Clyde river banks and Quay walls is primarily reconsidering the edges of the Clyde river. It aims to create a new environment that can withstand water level variations as well as enable more active uses of the river banks. In other zones along the river banks, the quay walls may be able to be modified to create a softer transition between the water level and the current street level.
  2. Multi-Level North-South Connection (MLNSC) portrays the potential of involving engineering in urban design in an early phase. To restructure major infrastructural components, for example by shifting ground planes, new relationships with the river will be established. This will enable Glaswegians to get in touch with the water once again.
  3. The Govan Graving Docks look at the potential redevelopment of the docks in Govan, south of the Clyde. They have a high potential for becoming a water retaining structure and, if integrated into wider city networks, could reduce the risk of flooding.

[1] Think Deep: Planning, development and use of underground space in cities. ISOCARP, ITA-AITES, ITACUS. Netherlands, 2015.

Evolution of the Waterfront and the Port of Lisbon from 1887 to 1974

Evolution of the Waterfront and the Port  of Lisbon from 1887 to 1974


In the previous article we could see the pre-industrial evolution of Lisbon´s waterfront during the 18th and 19th centuries. We got to know the alternative visions for the port and the riverfront, and how the process to reach a final proposal for the new industrial harbor took some time and was considerably complex. As we saw this process culminated in 1887 with the final competition for the port development plan.

FInal plan by Hersent, based in the one developed previously by Loureiro. Retrieved from Arquitectura – A Cidade e o rio. Actas do seminário Internacional “renovação urbana nas zonas ribeirinhas”, 1988

This article will explain how the winning proposal was developed during the first decades of the 20th century. We will also see how the industry and the port evolved, implementing new infrastructure that gradually separated the city from the river and the port.

Finally we will also a second key moment of the port-city relation, at the end of the first-half of the past century, when the waterfront starts to be specialized, segregating different functions At the same time this change allowed the implementation of urban programs on the waterfront for the first time. The changes here mentioned crafted the current image of the port and the riverfront. The final discussion at the end of the 20th century about the regeneration of the water edge and the relation with the river will be left for the next article.

Construction of the first section of the 1887 port plan

On October 31st of 1887 the construction of the new port of Lisbon began. That day was marked by celebrations both for the inauguration of the port development construction and the birthday of King D. Luis (Silva, 1923). The project was divided into 4 sectors. The first one considered the central part of waterfront, went from Sta. Apolónia railway station to Alcântara, the second from Alcântara to Belém, the third one was the eastern section of the riverbank and the 4th one was the south side of the Tagus river (Nabais& Ramos, 1987) (Costa, 2006)

The civil Engineer Hildernet Hersent was considered the winner of the competition in April 1887. His project took the one from Loureiro and Matos as starting point, but included several changes due to technical and economic issues. He was in charge for the development of the first section while the national railway company was responsible for the second one. The other two sectors were left for future construction.

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The construction of the first section of the port of Lisbon was not easy and found several problems along the way. Some authors (AGPL, 1958)(Costa, 2006) have divided the process into two phases, a first one from the competition date until 1894, and he second one from 1894 until 1907. During this period the court of arbitrage was forced to intervene twice in conflicts between the contractor and the state. In 1891 the contract was reviewed, extending it for 10 years. A new contract was made in 1894 and the court of arbitrage decided in 1902 to extend the arrangement until the final date of 1907 (AGPL, 1926). Although the construction was supposed to be finished several issues affected it´s normal development, afterwards there were several works necessary to the full completion of the plan, which was not finished until several years after. In 1907 the state took control of the new port facilities and the new territory. For the management of this infrastructure the Minister of public works created an autonomous board formed by seven elements coming from the different actors involved in the port and maritime activities[1]. The new organizations was named the Administração Geral do Porto de Lisboa (AGPL). (ibid.)(AGPL, 1938) (Nabais & Ramos, 1987).

The second section of Lisbon´s waterfront included, besides the railway infrastructure, several docks, but were mainly destined to the navy or other uses rather than the usual commercial activities of the port. The landfills made in this section offered a location for the new industries related with the energy production sector. One example of this sort of settlements was the Central Tejo in Belém. This coal power plant started to be built in 1908[2] (Silva,1997). These sort of industries would remain in this part of the city until the 1940s (Costa, 2006), as we will later see.

During the first decades of the 20th century we see an increase in the maritime traffic of Lisbon. In several texts of the time we can find criticism to the development path of the port, mainly concerning the slow construction and some management issues (Silva, 1923). The construction of the first sector was not finished until 1926. During that time the existing infrastructure suffered few changes, including the transformation of the fluctuation dock into a “normal” one. In 1923 Silva complained about the delays in the completion of the works, the lack of new investment in machinery, the fact that the 2nd sector could not be used for real port activities, but only railway connection, leisure sailing or industrial areas. He also criticized that the 3rd sector was plan but never financed and the 4th section not even discussed.

Political Context

The first quarter of the 20th century was a period of political instability in Portugal. This situation did not contributed to the conclusion of the first port project and the development of the other sections. The increasing tension culminated in the assassination of the king D. Carlos I and his son and successor in the throne D. Luis Filipe in 1908. On October the 5th of 1910 the 1st democratic republic of Portugal was declared. During the following years the new regime was as well characterized by a very instable democracy with many changes in government. Finally in 1926 a coup d’état ended the democratic republic and started the military dictatorship. From 1928 to 1933 the regime evolved to become the “Estado Novo”, being António de Oliveira Salazar the key figure. First invited to the government of 1928 to be the minister of finance, gradually increased his influence until he became the president of the board of ministers in 1933, establishing the authoritarian regime that would rule Portugal until the revolution of 1974 (Saraiva, 1996) .

First decades of the 20th century.

In 1907 when the state regained control of the new port the infrastructure consisted in seven docks, with the correspondent technical apparel, a territory including 3500 m of ramps and embankments, 4700 m of piers, two dry docks, and over 14 000 m2 of warehouse space (AGPL, 1938). According to some texts of the time, during the following decades less construction was done, the interventions were mainlythe two new ship repair docks, more storage space and the conclusion of the pier of Santos.

The image of the port as it is known nowadays, started to be forged during this time (Costa, 2006). The separation between the city and the port became stronger and the difference of scale reduced the interaction between the citizens and the port.

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The political climate during the 1910s and early 1920s affected as well the port development. Until the new regime gained power and a certain stability was found, there were not many relevant constructions. During the late 1920s and 1930s the new government pushed further port development. The third section, planned in the competition, and already designed in 1916, was finally under construction. The dry docks 3 and 4 for naval repair were built, and the Alcântara and Santos docks were also rebuilt[3]. The construction quality of the first section of the port was far from ideal and different reinforcement works were necessary in the following years after its opening (ibid.) (Silva, 1923).

During this time other relevant infrastructures were built on the land side. The new buildings were designed with the predominant style of the time, the Português Suave[4] (Fernandes, 2003). This architectural expression, very valued by the regime, was chosen for many public constructions of the time. This style was related with the international movement known as rationalism, mainly used other countries with fascist dictatorships. This architectural language was used by the regime as propaganda to communicate their ideals, emphasizing the national identity. As result several relevant port buildings were constructed with this style, particularly the ones that hosted functions related with the public or that had a prominent location in the port-city interface.

The maritime stations

The passenger traffic, both regional and international, was quite relevant for the port of Lisbon. In 1937 more than 350 000 persons arrived or departed from Lisbon by boat (Brito et al. 2007). Three maritime stations were planned during the 1930s, but only two were finally built during the next decade. The maritime stations of Alcântara and Rocha Conde d’Óbidos are two examples of the mentioned architectural style and had an important role in the city´s structure, being the doors to Lisbon for the foreign passengers. Both buildings were designed by Pardal Monteiro, an important architect of the 20th century in Portugal, and the one in Alcântara included murals by AlmadaNegreiros, increasing their artistic value. The first one was inaugurated in 1943 and the second one was built between 1945 and 1948 (Gama, 1997). These stations remained the main connection with foreign countries until the construction of the airport. Afterwards were used mainly to welcome cruise ships.

To respond to the increasing traffic of people crossing the river from north to south several stations dedicated to the passenger fluvial traffic were planned. The first one was the south-southeast stations next to Praça do Comércio, by Cottinelli e Telmo in the late 1920s (ibid.). Several years later, inaugurated in 1940, another one in Belém was built. In this case the project was by Caetano de Carvalho, in the same style the stations from Rocha Conde d’Óbidos and Alcântara would be built in the same decade. This terminal was linked with the railway station in Belém, and also played an important role in the Exhibition of the same year that we will later explain (ibis.)

Fluvial station of Belém, built in 1940 for the Portuguese Expo. Arch. Caetano de Carvalho

Another interesting building was the refrigerated warehouse for cod fish, placed next to the rail line and the Av. 24 de Julho. This construction of large proportions had a strong visual impact due to its proportions and the architectural language including, a bas-relief with national heroes. We can see in the architectural expression or texts of the time that the port was still a an important element of civic pride was.

“(…) O que seríamos se esta esteira maritima nos nãos facultasse o precioso acesso ao Oceano e daí para todos os mares?O que seríamos sem este rio que preparous para os mares traiçoeiros os primeiros navegadores? A importância cital de Lisboa, não só para os portuguese como para o estrangeiro, é de tal modo, que a Europa  não teria outra entrada fluvial para o comércio africano e americano se este pôrto não fosse como é.”

Sanches(216: 1944)

In the same decade a relevant change regarding the jurisdiction of the Port of Lisbon took place. The AGPL gained control over the entire Tagus estuary, including the south side, from Alcochete until the bar of Lisbon (AGPL, 1938). This decision should facilitate the expansion of the port and port related industries to the south side. The possibility of moving certain activities to the other bank of the Tagus nurturedthe idea of releasing some sections of the waterfront in the north side to public use, regaining an access to the water for the inhabitants[5]. Several authors discussed this issue, particularly in the section between Cais do Sodré and the Customs, that included the Praça do Comércio[6] (Cid de Perestelo, 1938). In this same sector was the navy arsenal, one of the possible activities to be relocated to the south side, as eventually did happen.

“esta zona marginal debe ser aproveitada pelo municipaio para a construção de um jardim miradouro sobre o tejo, para o embelezamento da cidade e o gozo dos Lisboetas, visto os armazens do porto terem ocupado os antigos passeios marginais.”

Curado in O porto de Lisboa. Ideias e Factos (1928)

The expansion of the port towards the east in the third section included the construction of another 910 m of quays, 3830 m of stone slopes, 46 000 m2 of quayside area, a new dock, and 800 000 m2 of usable surface (Cid de Perestelo, 1938). The third section allowed as well the expansion of large industries in the east, later on enabling the transfer of the gas factory from Belém to Matinha, and the creation of the new avenue parallel to the river, Av. Infante D. Henrique.

During the 1930s and 1940s , once the regime had achieved a certain economic stability, the law for the economic recovery (Lei de Reconstituição Económica nº1914) was passed, planning the expenses for the following 15 years in the key infrastructure (Saraiva, 1993). The port received considerable investment for machinery and at the same time the different activities started to be more segregated. The development of the eastern section facilitated the settlement of larger industrial conglomerates in this area of the city, gradually releasing the western area, mainly Belém, from these activities. This way the urban programs existing in this section were enhanced, leaving this area with a representative function, related with its historical meaning and political connection (Costa, 2006).

If the first decades of the 20th century there were few planning initiatives regarding the port and the city. However, during the 1930s and 1940s, we could see several new plans that would affect the development of the waterfront. The first major urban intervention was the 1940 Expo, that implied the regeneration of the area adjacent to several national monuments such as the Jerónimos monastery and the Torre de Belém, the ex-libris of the city, that since the end of the 19th century until that decade had been surrounded by heavy industrial facilities diminishing its visibility and impact. At the same time, during the1940s, the first Masterplan for the city was being discussed. For this new document international experts were consulted to improve the existing urban environment and to organize the expansion of the city. Simultaneously, between 1943 and 1946, the port of Lisbon expansion plan was prepared. This document would set the path for the port development during the following decades. Also during this period the ZIP (Zona Industrial do Porto – Industrial Zone of the Port) was presented. We will discuss these different document and interventions in the following lines.

Major waterfront interventions in Lisbon during the 1930s and 1940s.

At the end of the 1930s and during the 1940s three key projects affecting the waterfront of Lisbon took place: the move of some industrial facilities from Belém to the eastern area of the city, the conclusion of the Tagus avenue in front of the Praça do Comércio, eased by the new location of the navy yard in the south side of the Tagus, and the Expo of the Portuguese World in Belém. These interventions had a significant impact in the image of the waterfront and would remain as the main projects on the by the riverside until the 1980s when the issue of the relation with the Tagus would be brought back to discussion.

Relocation of the energy industries from Belém to Matinha.

Before we have seen how, during the 1930s and 1940s, the third section of the port plan started to be develop. This area was already an important industrial core, that had grown linked with other structural element of the territory, the railway. The junction of both infrastructures potentiated development of larger industrial facilities in this area (Costa, 2006).The possibility of new industries eased a certain separation of activities on the waterfront, leaving the western section for leisure, culture and other urban activities. In 1937 the Ministry of public works issued an official statement in which insisted in the idea of releasing the area adjacent to the tower of Belém from the industrial facilities. The relocation of the CRGE (CompanhiasReunidas de Gás e Electricidade) gas factory from the west side of Lisbon, where it had existed since 1888, to Matinha, in the eastern section of the city, had been previously decided in 1935 with the law  25.726. This bill stated the need to move the industry and to regularized the edge of the river in the oriental section of the city, improving the connectivity of this area (Folgado, 2015).

Gas Factory of Belém in 1938. Photo by Kurt Pinto. Arquivo Municipal Doc: PT/AMLSB/KPI/000238

Finally the change only took place in 1944 (Costa 2006). The issue of the location of heavy industries next to this important landmark had been subject of controversy, criticism and public discussion since the end of the 19th century[7]. Not been even clear what was the need of such a facility in this place considering that there were others providing the same service (Ramos, 2004). In 1910 the tower received the status of national monument. The change here described was one of the firsts concerning the new uses and the programs to be implemented in the west part of the city. During the following decades the transfer of industries from west to east continued, accentuating the different roles of each part of the city (ibid.)

East-West connection on the waterfront

In the central section of the waterfront, from Cais do Sodré to the customs –  placed in the eastern section of the Praça do Comércio – the landfills proposed in different plans were never executed. The main issue in this area was the connection from the east to the west part of the city. The plans presented during the second half of the 19th century often included a railway or a road in front of the square. In the previous article it was clear that this issue was particularly complex. The historical meaning of the place, named by described by Costa (2006) as representative pier, and the difficulties caused by the presence of the navy yard delayed an intervention until the late 1930s.

Finally, the new location for the navy was decided during this decade, the facilities would be relocated to the south bank, in Alfeite, next to Seixal. The long awaited connection was, after several decades, technically possible. Although in previous plans a railway linehad also been discussed, the final solution was the construction of a road. The new avenue, executed in 1939, connected the two railway stations, from Cais do Sodré until the Sta. Apolónia. Linking in this point with the newly planned Av. Infante D.Henrique. The new road was possible due to the development of new landfills, until that moment the buildings were literally on the edge of the river.

Bird’s eye view of the central section of the waterfront of Lisbon, short after the construction of the landfill that would allow the completion of the road connecting the east with the west.

In the late 1940s a new plan for this area that was made, but never developed. In 1947 a design by Faria da Costa was released. In the project it was planned a regeneration of the area previously occupied by the shipyard, the redevelopment of Cais do Sodré, including a maritime station next to the railway one, and a tunnel connection to Restauradores Square. This intervention planned the creation of new monumental square in Cais do Sodré with two new 14 floors buildings, where the AGPL headquarters were supposed to be located (Pedras, 2014). In the drawing we can also see how the Tagus edge would be rethought, including new public spaces next to the water.

Plan for the connection between the Av. 24 de Julho and Praça do Comércio. Arch. Faria da Costa. Arquivo Municipal: Doc. PT/AMLSB/CMLSB/UROB-PU/10/174

Although the development of the landfills along the entire waterfront damaged the relation with the river, they allowed the construction of a more efficient connection between the two extremes of the city, including the incipient public transport (Costa, 2006). At the same time, the East-West axis, running parallel to the river, consolidated the barrier of traffic and infrastructure between the river and the city.

As we saw in the previous article the Tagus avenue was an old ambition of some port and urban planners. Several times projects with a certain grandiosity were dreamt. The riverside road was eventually completed, connecting the eastern section of the city with Algés in the western boundary, but with less impact than what it was conceptualized (Barata, 2010). The main concern remained the efficiency as a key element of the road network of the Portuguese capital.

The issue of crossing the downtown, the Baixa, has remained one of the biggest challenges until today. The construction of underground connections has been discussed several occasions during the last 50 years, but the road intervention of 1939 has remained has the main east-west axis on the waterfront.

1940 Portuguese world Expo

The new regime of the Estado Novo had been in power since 1928. During this time there was a certain quest to praise the national pride. The history brought an opportunity to uplift the Portuguese spirit, since in 1940 there would be the possibility of celebrating a double anniversary. In 1140 D. Afonso Henriques was recognized as the King of Portugal, remaining this year as the official date for the foundation of the country. In 1640 Portugal regained its independence from Spain (Saraiva, 1996). At the same time there was the goal of establishing Lisbon as the capital of the empire (França, 1997). The colonies still played an important role in the political and social debate, it seemed necessary to have a metropolis that would represent the grandiosity of the overseas territories.

Plan of the 1940 Exhibition of the Portuguese World

In 1932 the first discussions regarding the celebration of an international expo began to take place, but only in 1938 an official statement regarding the approval of the “Celebration of the Centenary of the Nationality” was published (Costa, 2015). The original idea was to create facilities that later would remain and be practical for the city. However, the tight deadline and the delay in the decision making process obliged to build temporary pavilions that later would be dismantled. Only in 1939 the final model of the expo was shown to the head of state, Salazar, leaving one year for the construction of the facilities (Acciaiuoli, 1998).

Panoramic view of the construction site of the 1940 Expo in Belém. From Estudio Horacio Novais (1939 – 1940)

The location of the exhibition, in the western part of town, was clear since the beginning, being the only doubt if it would be in the landfill in front of the Junqueira, where the Cordoaria is, or if it was better in the land in front of the Jerónimos monastery. Finally the greater historical meaning of the second prevailed, playing the monastery a key role in the planning and image of the event (Nobre, 2010). In this location the plan for the Expo used an area of 45 Ha to implement its program[8] (ibid.). It was seen by the masterminds behind the project, mainly the Cotinelli e Telmo and the mayor and minister of public works Duarte Pacheco[9] (França, 1980), as the opportunity to reconnect the historic monastery with the river with square of great proportions. The intervention changed the scale and perception of Belém, bringing a new sense of monumentality contrasting with the previous smaller dimension of the popular architecture (ibid).This location was the first place along the Tagus where a new kind of relation with the river was established.

Panorama of the imperial square, the central space around which the 1940 Expo was organized. we see the predominant urban role of the Jeronimo’s Monastery. Image from Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa,

The exhibition, which opened its doors on June the 23rd of 1940, was organized around the main square (Praça do Império) with clear boundaries. There were pavilions dedicated to different topics, from the former colonies and overseas territories or invited countries, to the national history, the traditional culture and the newest developments in the railway and the port. In the exhibition there was a conjunction of different architectural styles that somehow expressed the duality of the regime´s image. On one side there was the intention of establishing an imperial character, in line with how other fascist regimes were doing in Europe, but at the same time there was a certain exaltation of the popular/vernacular architecture from the traditional village, as the source of the Portuguese values. This dichotomy was visible comparing some of the main pavilions with the reconstruction of a Portuguese village as part of the exhibition. Ironically one of the main critics to the event, at the time and still nowadays, was the fact that to release the land necessary for the new construction and the imperial square a considerable amount of demolitions were required. The buildings that were destroyed were a part of the traditional urban fabric of Belém (Nobre, 2010). Another replica that became one of the highlights of the exhibition was the “Portugal” ship, an imitation from a 16th century galley. The boat was docked in the Belém dock during the exhibition. (Acciauli, 1998).

Jeronimos Monatery before the 1940 Expo. We can see part of the former urban fabric that was demolished for the Exhibition.

One of the main intervention that improved the connection with the water were the new crossings of the barrier that separated the river from the city. These bridges had as well a predominant role in the image of the event. They functioned as the east and west gates of the Expo. Another project with the same goal was the pedestrian tunnel placed near the dock of Belém. By the river, next to the new tunnel and symmetrical to the dock, a water mirror with a restaurant was built, giving the impression that the river was nearer to the city in that point. This restaurant, along with the museum of ethnography, has been one of the few remaining buildings of the exhibition. They were adapted to be used after the exhibition.

Panoramic view of Belém during the 1940 Exhibition. Photo taken from the top of Padrão dos Descobrimentos. In the image we see two building that were refurbished after the Expo and are still in use nowdays

One of the most remarkable projects was the “Padrão dos Descobrimentos”, a monument to honor the memory of the great explorers. This sculpture of considerable size, 50m high and 695 m2 of surface, was originally built to be dismantled after the exhibition, but since it was a significant success it was afterwards rebuilt, (re)inaugurated 1960 (Acciaiuoli, 1998). The location of the statue, directly on the river edge, between the dock of Belém and the aforementioned water mirror, is, in the opinion of the author, a key decision in the relation of the city with the water. The river edge is no longer just for industrial or port activities, but can be used for cultural programs or artistic interventions. Also the presence of the new monument created a new language, following the example of the tower of Belém, vertical elements with considerable proportions, placed by the river, giving a certain visual rhythm to the waterfront, particularly in the western section.

Padrão dos decobrimentos. Exposição do Mundo Português, 1940 – António Passaporte. Arquivo Municipal.

In terms of architecture the exhibition was considered a success. Under the direction of Cottinelli e Telmo several pavilions were exercises of creativity and helped to expereiment with aforementioned national style. Some of the architects and artists that participated in the event were: Cristino da Silva,Carlos Buigas, Lacerda Marques, Antonio Lino or Antonio Duarte, just to mention few of them.

The Expo did not attracted the number of visitors it was expected[10]. However, the event did helped the local and national governments to implement a series of large projects inLisbon, crucial for the development of the capital (Pedras, 2014). In the local scale the Av. da India became an important  axis due to the connection with the Av. 24 de Julho and Marginal (Nobre, 2010). Some other examples are the road network connections to Cascais, both the riverside road and the highway, the national stadium in Jamor, the park of Monsanto, the airport, and the maritime stations above mentioned, that were aimed to receive the international guests of the exhibition. Many of these projects were only finished during the next decades.

During this decade the waterfront suffered significant changes. The project of the Portuguese Expo was in some aspects a predecessor of what would happen in the post-industrial port-cities (Costa, 2006). This operation was the most successful cooperation between the Municipality and the ministry of public works, both lead by Pacheco, and also one of the key examples of the “New Lisbon – Capital of the Empire” (Elias, 132: 2013). Although Belém suffered important changes in its urban structure, there was the goal to leave “useful” facilities and there were plans for what would happen once the exhibition was over, after the event the area remained as an expectant space, without a clear program (ibid.).

Plano Director de Lisboa – Plano de Gröer

During the 1930s and 1940s the authorities of Lisbon Municipality were aware of the need to plan the expansion of the city and to transform it into a capital of the 20th century. The demographic growth was a significant challenge, the population grew from 486 000 in the 1920s to 709 000 in the 1940s (Pedras, 2014). During the first decades of the regime several international experts were consulted for the development of Lisbon. Forrestier in 1927 presented a plan for urban improvements which included several changes that eventually did took place, such as the relocation of the nay arsenal to the south bank of the Tagus or the connection of the Av. 24 de Julho with the Praca do Comércio (Barata, 2010). Later on, Donald Alfred Agache was as well called for the development of the Plano de Urbanizacao da Costa do Sol[11]. This internationally acclaimed planner would afterwards recommended Etienne de Gröer[12] for the development of the urban masterplan (André, 2015).

The year 1938 can be considered a turning point for the urban planning of the Portuguese capital (Silva, 1994) (Tostões, 2001). We have seen that in this year Duarte Pacheco, was elected mayor at the same time he kept his position as minister of public works. His direct connection with the government eased the flow of funds for the development of key projects in Lisbon. Besides the public financing new  juridical[13] and technical capacities were developed during this period (Brito et al. 2007). One of his decision was to give to de Gröer the responsibility of developing the PGUEL (Plano Geral de Urbanização e Extensão de Lisboa – General Plan for the Urbanization and Expansion of Lisbon). The plan started to be developed in 1938 but was only approved by the municipal assembly in 1948, already with a different name, the PDCL (Plano Director da Cidade de Lisboa). The document was never officially ratified by the central government, a mandatory step, but it guided the development of Lisbon during this time and the following years (Silva, 1994).

Plano Director de Urbanização de Lisboa. 1938 – 1948. Work led by Ètienne de Gröer. Retrieved from:

One of the original goals of the plan when the process started in 1938 was to correct the urban development direction. De Gröer, as many others before him, believed to be a mistake to plan de growth of the city in opposite direction to the river, considering it the” main beauty element of Lisbon” (Silva, 15:1994 ). Forrestier had already defended this idea before, recovering the old aspiration of building an avenue by the Tagus. The new plan for Lisbon might have been influenced by the plan for the Sun Coast. This document enhanced the development of the capital towards the west, connecting with Estoril and Cascais. De Gröer implemented some of the concepts that had influenced his education, such as the principle of the Garden City, an anthropomorphic organization with strong zoning (Brito et al., 2007). The key ideas in the PDCL according to Silva (1994) were:

  • Create a radiocentrical road network
  • Organize decreasing population densities from the city center towards the periphery.
  • Create an industrial area in the eastern section of the city, lied with the port development.
  • Build a bridge crossing the river, linking Poço do Bispo with Montijo. Connected with one of the circular roads.
  • Build an international airport in the north area of the city.
  • Create a new monumental axis from the Av. Antonio Augusto Aguiar towards the road to Porto
  • Create a green ring around the city, from the new park of Monsanto to Loures until the river.

The two most relevant ideas for the port-city relation were the goal of reconnecting the city with the river and the development of industrial areas in the eastern part of town. The interaction with the port activities was not one of the main issues, the discussion around this topic was limited to the connection with the national infrastructural network. The main concerns of this time in the capital were the housing needs, planning the predicted expansion and establishing the main road network of the city (Silva, 1994). This plan would eventually have an important influence in the development of Lisbon and the documents that were developed after. It created the image of the city that we know today (França, 1997).

Port changes in the 1940s

During the 1940s several bills were published that structured the port development in the national and local context. In 1942, following the ideas of the de Gröer plan previously explained, the bill 19/10/1942 was approved, which stated that the eastern section of the city should host the bigger industrial facilities. This bill demanded new infrastructure from Poço do Bispo to Matinha first, and after until Beirolas, already in the limit of the city. Associated with this development several important industries were established, such as the Gas factory in Matinha, Oil refineries in Cabo Ruivo, the slaughterhouse of Lisbon, the milling of Lisbon and the factory and deposit of war material, all of them in Beirolas (Nabais & Ramos, 152, 1988). This industrial development of the eastern section of town was complemented on the south bank with the bigger autonomous industrial complexes, affecting the port economy and territory. They were the Quimigal in Barreiro and Lavradio, the Siderurgia Nacional (National steel plant) in Seixal, and the Lisnave shipyards of in Almada (Costa, 2006).

In 1944 the national government passed the law DL 33922 5/9/1944, responsible for the 2nd phase of the national port plan. The port of Lisbon was not included in this document since it was considered that it required a separate plan due to the size and complexity of the infrastructure. The “Plano de Melhoramentos do Porto de Lisboa”- Plan for improvements for the port of Lisbon, was approved on the 24th of June of 1946, with the bill DL 35716. This new document, besides setting the path for the port development, also assigned the necessary financing. The key works included in the plan, many of them related with the aforementioned industrial area, were: In the eastern section: the construction of new piers and dock in Poço do Bispo, new pier in Xabregas, regularization of the coastline between Matinha and Cabo Ruivo, and Cabo Ruivo and Beirolas, including the new dock of Olivais (destined to work as maritime airport). Also new warehouses and industrial facilities were planned, such as the refinery of Cabo Ruivo. In the western part, the main project was the dock of Pedrouços, dedicated to fishing activities, also known by the name of the managing society Docapesca. New landfills on sludge areas were also planned, with the goal of improving the general hygiene of the port and the city. On the south side the main intervention was the regularization of the coast line between Cacilhas and Alfeite (Nabais& Ramos, op. cit).

Plano de Melhoramentos do Porto de Lisboa, 1946.

Finally, in 1948 another relevant law was passed. In the 2nd article or the DL 36976 20/7/1948, the jurisdiction of the AGPL was updated and increased, including 110 km of riverbanks. The new boundaries were the bridge of Vila-França de Xira, on the east, and the line defined by the fortresses of S. Julião e Bugio on the west. This area included 50 km of river banks on the north side and 60 km on south. The area and river edge controlled by the AGPL had borders with 11 municipalities.

1940s – 1974

The period that goes from the late 1940s until the end of the regime, in 1974, was characterized by the implementation of national plans for the development of the country and the key infrastructure. These plan were also known as the “Planos de Fomento”. During this time three main plans and a partial one were prepared. The first one went from 1953 until 1958, the second from 1959 until 1964, then the intermediate plan, from 1965 until 1967 and finally the third development plan from 1968 until 1974. These documents set the path for the key investment in the main infrastructure and also influenced the urban development strategies (Silva, 1994).

The Port

The first development plan (1953 – 1958) was mainly focused in financing and completing the projects scheduled in the document from 1946, without major innovations. The second development plan (1959- 1964) was focused in general interventions to improve the conditions of the port and be able to host the bigger ships, mainly in the third section. In this plan the Docapesca in Pedrouços was one of the project that received more investment, mainly with new buildings and facilities for the fishing activities (Nabais, Ramos, 1987). The infrastructure for fluvial traffic, mainly the ferries, was also improved. In this second plan was also foreseen the change of use of the dock of Bom Sucesso, in Belém, from navy activities to nautical sports and leisure.

The strategic investment decided in these plans had a clear goal of gradually increase the industrial activity in the country. During the 1950s and 1960s we see how the municipalities next to Lisbon received financing to develop key infrastructure, easing the path for the private sector. During these decades the large industrial conglomerates in Lisbon metropolitan area, mainly in the south side of the Tagus as we have already seen, grew from a local/regional scale to compete in the Iberian market (Costa, 2006). The industrial facilities employ thousands of workers in activities related with the petrochemical sector, steel plants and shipyards.

Finally, during the 1970s, the port started to receive container traffic. This new type of cargo, in use since1950s, gradually gained more importance in the international logistic chains. The first terminal prepared to handle this kind of traffic was the one in Sta. Apolónia, adapted with the necessary technology since October 1970. This change opened a new phase in the history of the port activity and the relation between the port and the city (Nabais & Ramos, 1987).

Mas os efeitos da escala ainda tardam, pois a revolução da contentorização só se impõe no Porto de Lisboa, a partir de 1970. Esse é o momento da criação de uma autêntica barreira física na Lisboa ribeirinha, desde Cabo Ruivo àAlfândega.

Folgado & Custódio,1999

Only later, in 1985, the dock of Alcântara would be prepared to handle containers. This terminal was, and still is, operated by a private company named Liscont, working with a concession contract.

The urban development and plans from 1940s until 1970s

After the de Gröer document, and until the end of the regime, other two plans were prepared to tackle the urban development of Lisbon. Both of them used the previous plans as the base for their work, establishing a certain continuity with core ideas, but, at the same time introducing key changes that would shape the future of the Portuguese capital. Another common feature is the fact that both were approved in municipality, and guided the development of the city, but were either never or much later approved by the central government.

The plan published in 1959 (PDUL – Plano Director de Urbanização de Lisboa) was a revision from the one of 1948, with few new concepts and ideas. From an initial vision closer to the garden city in 1938,  it evolved to embrace the concepts defended in Athens Charter. One of the key changes was the relocation of the connection between Lisbon and the south side of the Tagus. Instead of placing it in the eastern sector of the city, it was planned between Alcântara and Almada. The bridge would eventually be built in this location, but only opening to the public in 1966. New road connections, including two urban highways, were also planned, enhancing the role of the car in the society.  This plan was led by Guimarães Lobato.

Aerial view of Lisbon in the 1960s, before the construction of the Salazar Bridge (later known as 25 de Abril)

The second plan started as revision of the previous one, led by George Meyer Heine, but eventually it became a new full plan, approved in 1967 by the municipality. This new document, also known as the PDUL, had to deal with the increasing traffic of vehicles and the evolution of the demographics. At the same time the new plan identified several issues related to the previous development. The radio-centrism was considered a problem, the delays in some key infrastructure was affecting the urban development of the city, and there was a deviation between the expected population in the existing plans and the real one. The recently inaugurated infrastructure, such as the subway system and the new bridge, required new strategies for the city. The plan proposed a new south-north highway, connecting the Salazar bridge (today known as bridge 25 de Abril) with the airport. A new monumental axis, like in previous plans, from Av. Da Liberdade, was also planned. The concept for distribution of population densities changed in comparison to the previous documents, from a model that defended a decrease from the center to the periphery, to establish an uniform distribution of the population. This plan was only approved by the national Government in 1977 with the ministerial ordinance n.º 274/77, of 19 of May.

In the map of the plans we can see that the port area is considered outside the boundaries of the municipal control. The AGPL (nowadays known as APL) was, and still is, a central government body, responsible for the management of a territory that belongs to the state, not the city. For this reason, the connection and interaction between both institutions, and also between the different plans, has been often limited to the connection nodes necessary for the infrastructure. In the last plans we see a more functionalist approach, where the relation with the river is not as important as it was previously considered. The debate about the interaction between the Tagus and Lisbon would only be recovered in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Both realities, city and port, regained a certain need to cooperate and to find a way to give to the city and citizens a new contact with the water.


The main goal of this research is to discover how the relation between the port and the city has worked in the context of Lisbon and it can be improved. It is widely accepted that to understand our present and plan our future it is necessary to comprehend the past, the path that has taken us to our current situation. In these three articles, the two written so far and the next one, we try to understand how have the port and the city evolved during the last 300 years. We have seen that the international models presented by other senior researchers are more or less accurate in Lisbon, although with slightly different timeline. We can also observe that in the history of this port-city, as in many others, the evolution is not lineal, but rather marked by long periods of stagnation interrupted by moments of intense activity. However, the evolutions does not stop. Since 1755 we have seen how a myriad of small piers evolved into a large industrial port. How in the process several alternatives for more balanced port – city – river – citizen alternatives were dismissed. We could identify the break up moments, the change from a local industry to international, the changes in the waterfront. In the process we have also seen how in the first transformation of the waterfront, the public space regained a lost central role, and how, at the same time, the segregation and intensification of port activities could have caused a certain sense of negligence in the areas of the city that hosted these activities. This last issue, particularly clear since the arrival of the container traffic, along with the infrastructural barrier could be one of the reasons causing the distancing between both realities.

In the following article we will see how the riverfront debate becomes once again a hot topic in the public realm. Since the 1980’s there have been several planning initiatives to recover the city – river relationship. But then, what role has the port played? What were the key concept of this rapprochement? The port remained as a barrier or became an active element of change? In the past decades there has been considerable research done related with this topic, from Master and PhD investigations to architectural and urban planning competition, even initiatives focused in the cultural value of the port and the river. We will see all these activities before we focus in the analysis of the current situation and we try to formulate possible solutions.


André, P. (2015). A CITY MADE OF CITIES Lisbon in the first half of the XX century: new Lisbon (1936) and Lisbon new (1948). Urbana, Cec. Unicamp, 7(10), 89–111.

Acciaiuoli, M. (1998). Exposições do Estado Novo 1934-1940. Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Barata, A. C. M. (2010). Lisboa “Caes da Europa”: realidades, desejos e ficções para a cidade (1860 – 1930). Lisboa: Edições Colibi – IHA/Estudos de Arte Contemporânea, FCSH – Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Brito, V., & Camarinhas, C. (2007). Elementos para o estudo do Plano de Urbanização da Cidade Lisboa. Cadernos Do Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa, 164–189.

Costa, J. P. (2006). La ribera entre proyectos : formación y transformación del territorio portuario, a partir del caso de Lisboa. Barcelona : Universidade de Catalunha.

Costa, J. P. (2007). A renovação urbana dos grandes complexos portuários do século XX: novos territórios, novas dinâmicas. Portus, (14), 4–7.

Costa, J. P. (2008). Cinco gerações de renovação urbana na ribeira de lisboa. Estuarium, 12–17.

Costa, S. V. (2015). Pensar Lisboa. A obra capital de Duarte Pacheco. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (5), 84–97.

Curado, B. De P. (1928) O Porto de Lisboa. Ideia e factos.Livraria Rodrigues. Lisbon.

Elias, H. (2013). A monumentalização de Lisboa ocidental: arte pública e intervenções urbanas na frente ribeirinha de Belém. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (2), 130–141.

Folgado, D., & Custódio, J. (1999). Caminho do Oríente – Guía do património industrial. (J. Sarmento de Matos, Ed.). Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Folgado, D. (2015). Lisboa industrial. Um caminho da e para a modernidade. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (5), 98–109.

França, J. A. (1980). Lisboa: Urbanismo e Arquitectura (1a ed.). Lisbon: Instituto de Cultura e Língua Portuguesa Ministério da Educação e Ciência.

França, J. A. (1997). Lisboa: urbanismo e arquitectura (3rd ed.). Lisbon: Livros Horizonte.

Gama, E., & Miranda, I. (1997). Lisboa ribeirinha e as suas estações – síntese histórica. In A. Caessa & M. G. Martins (Eds.), Actas das sessões do II Colóquio temético Lisboa Ribeirinha (pp. 201–224). Lisboa: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa – Departamento de Parimonio Cultural Divisão de Arquivos.

Lobo, L. M. (1976). Porto de Lisboa (1963-1974). AGPL. Lisbon.

Mangorrinha, J. (1999). Papéis de(o) Arquitecto na intervenção municipal urbana: notas sobre projectar Lisboa no século XX. Cadernos Do Arquivo Municipal, 1(3), 216–229.

Matias, R. (Ed.) (1961)O porto de Lisboa , in: Portugal de Hoje(1). Eco. Lisbon.

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (1985). Porto de Lisboa: Subsidios para o estudo das obras, equipamentos e embarcações na perspectiva da arqueologia Industrial. AGPL – Administração Geral do Porto de Lisboa. Lisbon.

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (1987). 100 anos do porto de Lisboa. Lisboa: Administração do Porto de Lisboa.

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (1991).Referências Históricas do Porto de Lisboa. Administração do Porto de Lisboa. Lisbon.

Nabais, A. J. C. M., & Ramos, P. O. (199x?). Roteiro das fontes da História do Porto de Lisboa. Administração do Porto de Lisboa. Lisbon

Nobre, P. A. (2010). Belém ea Exposição Do Mundo Português: Cidade, Urbanidade e Património Urbano. Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Pedras, M. R. (2014). Uma Capital para o Império: a Lisboa sonhada do Estado Novo. Rossio – Estudos de Lisboa, (4), 198–215.

Perestelo, A. M. C. (1938) in Cinquentenario da inauguração das obras da1ª secção do Porto de Lisboa, feita em 31de outubro de 1887. Discursos proferidos na sessão solene de 30 de outubro, presidida por S. Exª o Presidente da República, Sr. General Antonio Oscar de Fragoso Carmona. Administração Geral do Porto de Lisboa. Lisboa, Imprensa Nacional. Lisbon.

Ramos, P. O. (1992). Lisbon’s Historic Waterfront. Industriekultur Und Arbeitswelt an Der Wasserkante – Zum Umgang Mit Zeugnissen Der Hafen- Und Schiffahrtsgeschichte / Industrial Culture and Industrial Work in Coastal Areas – How to Handle the Heritage of Port and Shipping History, Arbeitshefte Zur Denkm, (11), 41–45.

Ramos, P. O. (2004). A Torre de Belém e a Fábrica do Gás – Contra o gasómetro, marchar, marchar. Pedra & Cal, (21), 12–14.

Ribeiro, O. (1987). A formação de Portugal. Lisbon: Instituto de Cultura e Língua Portuguesa Ministério da Educação.

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[1]The new organization was a significant innovation in the port management models existing at the time. The port of Lisbon was the first one to have this kind of structure, discussed for the first time in the 10thinternational Maritime Congress in Milan in 1905. The board included a president named directly by the government, the director of the customs in Lisbon, an engineer as chief of exploration, the chief of the central maritime department and representatives from the railway companies, the shipping sector, and the commerce. (Perestelo, 1938)

[2] The power plant “Central Tejo”, was built to provide electricity to the city and the Lisbon-Cascais railway line. There were several expansions during the following years, in some cases even adding an entire new building, like it happened in 1939 (Silva, 1997). It remained in operation until 1968 (Ramos, 1992). Several years it was deactivated it was refurbished to accommodate the electricity museum and to work as a temporary exhibition hall. The new function was implemented in 1990s,being included in what can be considered the Belém museum axis. To this axis belong as well other cultural facilities such as the CCB, the Cordoaria or the Museum of carriages.

[3] In 1919 the wall of the dock of Alcântara crawled requiring repair. For this reason reinforcement interventions were necessary. Several authors indicate that the low quality of the construction of the piers was due to the short exploration contract given to the contractor, Hersent. This issue could have forced him to build excessively fast and cheap to have a return of his investment, instead of what could have happened if the contract would have been made for a longer period allowing him to build with higher quality standards and recover his investment in a longer period.

[4]We can find buildings from the beginning of the century in Portugal designed in modernist style, such as the fluvial station from Cottinelli e Telmo. Gradually the architects started to develop the Português Suave language, very valued by the regime .This style has been studied by several serearchers in Portugal. For example it was descibed by Pedras(2015) as it follows: (…) caracterizava-se pela reaproximação a uma estética joanina, com elementos característicos como as varandas do andar nobre, as linhas austeras, a monumentalidade das entradas, os telhados em mansarda e a simetria sóbria e regular que marcava toda a edificação.

[5] During the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the construction of the port (1938), in the speech made by Prof. Eng. Afonso de Melo Cid de Perestelo, the layout of the port, occupying the entire waterfront was criticized. It was also suggested that the central section should be left for the city to “breathe” and have a contact with the water, insisting, once again in the creation of an avenue or boulevard in front of the location of the navy shipyard.

[6] In the book “Port de Lisbonne” the possibility of relocating the navy arsenal was very clear. This publication was published by the AGPL itself to promote the port of Lisbon. We can see that even the official stand was to ease the access to the river in specific locations, such as the Praça do Comércio.

[7] There are texts from different authors and intellectuals of the time referring this topic and criticizing the municipality that approved the construction of the industries close to the Tower, authors such as Castilho, Ramalho Ortigao or Bordalo Pinheiro. For more information check the article by Ramos “A Torre de Belém e a Fábrica do Gás – Contra o gasómetro, marchar, marchar”, published in 2004.

[8] As said by Nobre (2010) there are contradictory information about the territory occupied by the Exhibition. For example Costa (2006) indicates a territory of 56 Ha.

[9] Duarte Pacheco (1900 – 1943) was a key figure in the transformation of Lisbon and Portugal during the 1930s and 1940s. He would be the minister of education in 1928 and of public works from 1932 until 1935, and once again from 1938 until his death in November 1943. He became the mayor of Lisbon from 1938, keeping both position officially only for a few months. His influence in the city and the country was much broader than this period (Costa, 2015).

[10] Some authors state that, as often happens in authoritarian regimes, the official numbers were distorted and only the first and last days attracted a considerable number of visitors. (Accialiui, 1998)

[11]The “Plano de Urbanização da Costa do Sol” (Urbanization Plan for the Sun Coast) started to be developed by Agache in 1933. This plan was created for the development of the region between Lisbon and Cascais, being the road network one of the key elements. It was the first regional plan developed in Portugal. The project remained on hold until Duarte Pacheco, in 1938, became the mayor of Lisbon and Minister of Public Works. At this point the plan was resumed by De Gröer, at the same time he was working in the Plan for Lisbon. (Costa, 2015)

[12]Étienne De Gröer was hired by the municipality between 1938 and 1940, and once again between 1946 and 1948 (André, 2015)

[13]Particularly relevant was the new legislation that allowed an easier expropriation procedure when necessary. This favorable law allowed the municipality to become one of the main urban and real estate developers of the city. It was able to get 35% of the total development area until 1951 (Franca, 1997).One of the goals of Duarte Pacheco was to keep the right to urbanize exclusive for the public institutions, i.e. the municipality. (Brito et al. 2007)

Initiatives focused on the Port-City relation II

Initiatives focused on the Port-City relation II

Last spring we noticed several initiatives focused in the port-city relation. This autumn we also have several events that will bring interesting inputs to the debate from different perspectives.

In this post we will also mention two congresses that took place during the summer months. The proceedings of these events are already available and include interesting papers.

15th AIVP World Conference Cities and Ports ‘Crossovers’

One of the main events focused in the port-city relation will take place this week in Rotterdam. From the 5th to the 7th of October more than 400 delegates will meet to discuss different issues related with relation between the port and the city. The AIVP in collaboration with the Port Authority of Rotterdam have prepared a dense program with speakers coming from different contexts and backgrounds. There will be interesting synergies between the professional and the academic worlds.

Here is the official statement explaining the conference:

Port cities everywhere are facing up to new challenges, both locally and globally. Factors such as energy, climate, e-commerce and “uberisation” of the economy, major geopolitical developments, are all overwhelming 20th century organisations and structures that are proving unequipped to deal with contemporary issues. New synergies, gateways, bridges and other crossovers need to be devised and developed, to ensure that ports, cities, economic stakeholders and citizens are able to play their part in the modernisation of port communities. The aim is to build a city-port relationship that is responsive, resilient, and competitive, while also taking into account the needs of the local population and the environment.

It is possible to work together. A whole host of initiatives have already been adopted, with increasing success. Our 15th worldwide conference in Rotterdam aims to showcase them, working with you to build YOUR future.

1. How can crossovers between cities and ports enhance the circular economy?
2. How can crossovers between cities and ports stimulate innovative business climate?
3. How can we use smart technologies for green logistics and industries in port and city?
4. How can joined urban and port planning facilitate the next economy – flexible frameworks of port and city?
5. How can crossovers allow the creation of resilient ports cities facing up to the challenges of climate change
6. How can port cities enhance social innovation, develop new skills and raise the profile and image of the port?

More information here

Port of Lisbon: the future is prepared today

During October a series of conferences and debates has been prepared to discuss several issues related with the port in the context of the Portuguese capital.

The port day in Lisbon. Retrieved from

Each week there will be a debate with presentation from various professionals, focused in different specific topics. The issues to be discussed will go from the port-city relation, to the role of the port in the metropolitan area or even the maritime tourism, a hot topic nowadays in Lisbon.

The conclusion of the program will probably take place during the celebrations of the day of the port, on October 31st.

We leave you here a brief glance of the program:

Friday the 6th : Maritime tourism – a new dynamic

Friday the 14th: Innovative solutions for the port-city relation

Friday the 21st: A port with two shores – Multimodal platform of Barreiro

Thursday the 27th: The port of Lisbon – The future is made today

More information here

ISOCARP YPP/YPTDP Workshop Glasgow

The Young Planning Professionals of the ISOCARP workshop will take place in Glasgow by the last week of October. In this meeting the participants, 20 young professionals, will have the chance to discuss the redevelopment of Clyde Waterfront in Glasgow. The  connection new infrastructure and the integration of above and below ground urban design will be the main challenge the participants will have to face.

One of the most interesting aspects of this workshop is the fact the work will be developed by an interdisciplinary team, formed by 10 architects/urban planners and 10 civil engineers.

The relation between infrastructure and public space to be discussed in Glasgow. Photo retrieved from:

3rd International Workshop “Cities from the Sea – Maritime identity and Urban Regeneration”

In the city of Naples, organized by the Federico II university the 3rd International Workshop “Cities from the Sea – Maritime identity and Urban Regeneration” will take place between the 26th of November and 3rd of December.

Cities from the Sea. 3rd International Workshop Retrieved from

In this workshop the participants, 30 student and 6 tutors, will have the chance to discuss the present and the future of the waterfront and port of Naples. The focus of the meeting will be development of port-cities from different perspectives, from urban planning to community psychology. There will an opportunity to interact with the local stakeholders and attend to several conferences from experts from different fields.

The Call for applications, both for students and tutors, is currently open. The deadline is October 14th.

We leave you here some information from the official website.


  • Urban planning and design in seaside cities, collaborative strategies, community psychology
  • Urban regeneration, place branding and urban marketing for seaside cities
  • Case study and field work areas: Port of Naples and San Giovanni Coast + Nisida Islet, Coroglio and Bagnoli + Historic Waterfront of Naples
  • Interaction with international referees and real stakeholders

Program Remarks

  • Integrated economic/enviromental/social approach
  • Focus group on port cities and coastal urban areas
  • Working with “hungry and foolish” people
  • Real interdisciplinary collaboration among planning, architecture, psychology, economics, ecology, art, social sciences, etc.
  • Interaction with key actors of Napoli metropolitan coast on the land and on the sea
  • “On board” site visits and views from the sea of Napoli metropolitan coast

4th World Port Hackathon

The 4th World Port Hackathon took place on the 2nd and 3rd of September, in the RDM Campus in Rotterdam. During twenty-four hours, 100 hackers took on the challenges from the port of Rotterdam and the port of Singapore. Throughout the World Port Hackathon, the hackers experienced active participation from the port community and there were also many visitors during the Expo and the Grand Finale. (Text retrieved from the official website).

17th IPHS Conference

Last July , the 17th Conference of the International Planning History Society was held in the TU Delft. In this event there several sessions with interesting papers. We can highlight one of them, more related with the port-city topic, titled: Resilience, Path Dependency and Port Cities. Several senior researcher ins the field of waterfront and port-city relations participated in the conference, such as Carole Hein (organizer of the event), Han Meyer or Dirk Schubert.

IPHS. Retrieved from


The proceedings are already available in the congress website here.

13th International Conference on Urban History

A second congress also in the field of urban history, that took place this summer was the 13th Conference of the EAUH – European Association for Urban History. The event, realized in Helsinki, developed sessions about many different topics, being two particularly relevant for the ongoing investigation. The first one was the M21 European Seaport Culture. In it, several researchers presented investigation concerning several study cases, some of them already analyzed here, such as Rotterdam, Genoa or Marseille. Considering the type of conference the approach was from a historic point of view, but it gave interning insights to specific issues, like for example the origin of the Hafengeburtstag in Hamburg.

The second session relevant to the port-city relation was the S23. Reinterpreting Global History: Second Cities, an Alternative Road to Global Integration in the Nineteenth and Twentieth century. The discussion about the concept of second city, very often connected with the one of port-city, was particularly interesting. The papers were particularly incisive, discussing some cases aforementioned.


Port Centers, the spearheads of Seaport Culture disclosure

Port Centers, the spearheads of Seaport Culture disclosure

Several authors have studied the evolution of the relation between cities and ports, developing different models, identifying a conflict situation that in many cases continues until today[1]. In this article we will try to briefly summarized some of the causes of the conflict and their impact in the relation. After, we will mention some strategies used by the port authorities and communities and how they can be complemented by the Port Centers. Finally we will see how this concept works and how it has evolved from the first generation to the second, explaining two examples from each one.

The Port-City relation

We can find complains regarding the port infrastructure and how they cut the access to the water already in the late 19th century[2]. However, the positive outcome of having a port at that time it was clear. The number of jobs associated with the port activities and the economic advantages granted a certain social support for the port development. The evolution of the logistic chain, the maritime technology, the world economy, planning practices or new legislation[3] forced changes during the 20th century in the port configuration and functioning. Due to these changes, among other things, the positive effects of the port activities began to spread over the region or the country, while the negative externalities, mainly related with the environment and traffic, remained in the port-city (Ircha, 2013; Merk, 2013,2014).

Port of Lisbon in the first half of the 20th Century Source

Along with the diminishment of the positive externalities, the raise of an ecological conscience[4] during the second half of the 20th century had as well an impact in the way people saw ports. This phenomenon created social concerns about the environment and the negative effects certain industries could cause. These concerns eventually resulted in a movement opposing some industrial infrastructures, including ports and their expansion projects.

The process aforementioned, particularly the decrease in the economic impact of the port-maritime activities in the local society, has been named by other researchers as demaritimisation (Musso et al. 2011). This term can also include the decrease of the cultural presence of the port in the port-cities, which results in a loss of maritime character. The lost of port conscience could eventually lead to the reallocation of public resources into other sectors, further harming the port development. It is also possible to observe that the ports, and more specifically the port authorities, have not, for the major part of their history, maintain a transparent communication with the city or the local citizens. As result, the physical and symbolic distance between cities and ports has been increasing.

port 2
Port of Rotterdam. Port Landscapes of the 21st Century. The port areas are no longer open to the inhabitants and the port is in many cases totally separated from the city Author: José M P Sánchez

Simultaneously a new type of project began to take place in port-cities, the urban waterfront regeneration plans. This sort of intervention, which started in the 1960s in the USA, was initially based in the transformation of port brownfields near the city center. By the end of the 20th Century, the evolution of this type of projects and the changes in the urban development tendencies had transformed the waterfront area into one of the most appealing locations for new city districts, changing the previous industrial activities for housing projects, office buildings, public spaces or cultural facilities (Schubert, 2011). Among other issues, the increase of value of the waterfront plots put more pressure on the port to leave the locations close to the city center. In some cases, like Oslo, the port authorities also saw this process as an opportunity to finance new port infrastructure outside the urban core. The result of these changes was that in numerous cases ports were no longer visible nor existed close to the everyday routines of the city as it was before, separating themselves from the general image of the local identity.

Waterfront project for Seattle Waterfront

The evolution of the port-city relation as previously described have resulted in a significant diminishment of the social support of ports. In the late 20th century and beginning of the 21st, we could see a shift in the priorities of the port authorities. They start to include the social integration of ports in their program and projects (Merk,2013). In the early 21st century several documents from European initiatives were published showing the concern about this issue[5]. In this context one of the aims of the port authorities was granting the Social License to Operate. As explained by other authors (Dooms ,2014, Boutilier and Thomson,2011) the SLO is, in its broader concept, fulfilling the expectations of stakeholder and local communities in dimensions that go beyond the creation of wealth, i.e. the social acceptance of port activities by local communities, that take in consideration other elements, besides the economic impact of the port.

Soft Values

To achieve the SLO, a common strategy has been to appeal to what was named by Van Hooydonk as the Soft – Values, “the non-socioeconomic values which include among others historical, sociological, artistic and cultural sub-functions that form the soft-function of seaports” (Van Hooydonk, 2007). In some of the bigger port-cities, such as Rotterdam or Hamburg, the port festivals have been an important event in the festivities calendar. This sort of events are being implemented in port-cities around the world with relative success in terms of local participation. The use of the soft-values has been enhanced by different port authorities, developing a socio-cultural agenda, from movie festival to concerts or sport events[6].

The book Soft Values of Seaports by Prof. Van Hooydonk (2007). In this publication the soft values are explained, as well the evolution of the relation between the ports and societies. In order to improve their disclosure the author proposes a new figure in port authorities, the soft values manager.

The practices using soft-values have been able to attract people to the port territory, create a visual relation with the port atmosphere and in some cases help to keep the port-maritime identity of some port-cities. However, there is a tendency to a certain romanticism in the cultural events, sometimes detached from the real functioning of the port. As mentioned by Verhoeven (2011), both soft and hard values are necessary to regain the public support of ports. In order to develop a process of remaritimisation of port-cities, it is mandatory to combine innovative port activities, that generate new port related jobs and locally created added value, with the aforementioned Soft-Values and a clear communication channel. Considering the discredit of many political institutions and the tendency of the bottom-up planning policies, it seems reasonable to look for new tools for the port-city relation, adapted to the new scenario, such as the Port Centers.

The Port Center Concept

The Port Center concept can be described as  a ” museum and didactic structure oriented to the diffusion of port and maritime awareness and knowledge” (Ghiara, 2012). This structure has a physical location, a permanent exhibition and staff focused in the organization of visits to the center and the port territory. This structure has been used to articulate the relation between the port and the citizens, including local and foreign visitors. As we will see in the examples, the Port Center has also been created as a two way communication channel where, not only the people can get information about the port, but also is possible to organize a debate about the port-city relation or the port expansion projects. In most European countries the public discussion of large infrastructural projects is mandatory by law, which is also an opportunity to involve the locals in the port development debate and generate a certain feeling of appropriation of the port.

Port Center Schema
Port Center Concept. Adapted from Marini et al. 2014

The Soft-Values of seaports, as mentioned before, are one of the main assets ports can use to regain the social acceptance and visibility. The management of these values can also be made using the Port Center as the hinge for the port-city interaction, developing the socio-cultural agenda and the educational programs, fostering the public debate or implementing new information channels. The Port Centers form an alternative way to communicate with the citizens, complementing the existing initiatives. We can identify two different generations of this sort of structure since they started to be used in the late 1980s.

First Generation

Antwerp Port Center

The impact generated by the larger ports usually requires them to develop innovative strategies to reduce their negative externalities and increase their social integration, including innovative ways of information disclosure (Merk, 2013, 74). In 1988 the first Port Center was created in one of Europe’s biggest ports, Antwerp. This new facility was, and still is, located in the center of the port territory, on the right bank of the Scheldt river, next to the Lillo fort, 20 Km. from the city center. The scope for which it was founded was mainly educational, seeking to change the negative perception the port had, mainly among the younger generations. This issue is particularly relevant, not just regarding the social acceptance, but also concerning the lack of qualified workers.

The educational scope of the Antwerp Havencentrum, previously also known as Lillo Port Center,  was clear since it was initially thought exclusively for school classes. The fact of being far from the public transport was not a problem since the groups would arrive directly with their own means. Later, the Center allowed different types of groups, increasing their impact in the local society, welcoming pensioners and company delegations visiting the port.

Location of the Antwerp Port Center in the middle of the port territory

The Port Center of Antwerp is mainly financed by the province, responsible for 70% of its budget. In an initial moment it did not included other organism in the board of directors, but this situation changed in 2014 when the representatives of the logistics and industrial sectors of the port were invited to the board. The integration of the different stakeholders of the port community is important, not just for possible economic support, but also for the legitimacy of the project and the organization of the port visits.  Secondary financing strategies have also been developed, including an entrance fee for the visitors and the sublet of meeting rooms as venue for the interested companies.

The exhibition space (800sqm) explains the functioning of the port and its impact in the regional, national and international level. The pedagogic project has been developed following the principle of edutainment, combining the explanation of the logistic chain, the ships and the port territory with interactive games in order to captivate the attention of the students. This strategy was inspired by the science museums, and later was followed by Port Centers developed afterwards.

Images from the Lillo Port Center

The integration of former employees in the guides team is another positive aspect of the project. This initiative allows to maintain a certain sense of port community and gives first hand testimonies to the visitors. In order to grant the correct communication between the youngsters and the retired port workers, the latter received an specific training for the interaction and explanation of their experiences.

So far the Antwerp Port Center has enjoyed reasonable success according to the number of visitors, over 47 000 per year (AIVP, 2016). The coordination with the educational community has been as well positive. Other forms of collaboration have been developed, particularly relevant with the high schools focused in the maritime education and with the institute of maritime management and transport from the university of Antwerp. The main critic could be that, for the moment, it has not been possible to organize a two way interaction as some examples of the second generation, limiting the possible communication (Ghiara et al. 2014). Another issue could be the fact the Port Center of Antwerp still is reserved for groups visits from the target audiences, not allowing individual visits, limiting its social impact capacity.

Rotterdam EIC

The second Port Center of the first generation is the EIC (Education and Information Centre) of Rotterdam. This structure was created in late 1993 by Deltalinqs (Association of port companies of Rotterdam) and the port of Rotterdam Authority. It shares several characteristics with the case of Antwerp regarding location, scope and type of visitors. It is placed next to Rozenburg and the Europoort terminal, 20 km from the city center and without a good public transport connection.

The main goal was to explain the port to the new generations and show them that the port can be a good option to pursue a professional career. As it happens in Antwerp, the port was no longer seen as an attractive location to work (Aarts et al., 2012) . The strategy to explain the ports is similar as well to Antwerp. It includes a permanent exhibition with games and didactic activities and organizes port visits for the groups that come to the center. It also offers their services and facilities to the port companies, including the possibility of hosting private events. This service, along the entrance fee, provides a secondary financing source. In the website we can find educational material to assist the school teachers to better prepare the visit and take the maximum profit of it.

EIC Rotterdam

The success of this initiative is clear, receiving 22 000 visitors per year (Merk, 2013) but, as the aforementioned example, for the moment it does not allows individual visitors. Nevertheless the Port of Rotterdam decided to develop a second Port Center, already part of the second generation, including some changes in the model followed so far.

Second Generation

The concept of the Port Center has been implemented in different contexts and we can find examples in port -cities in and outside Europe. It took more than two decades for the concept to be used by other port-cities. To this second wave, developed since the first decade of the 20th century, belong for example the cases of  Genoa, Melbourne, Vancouver, Busan, Rotterdam- FutureLand, Le Havre, Ashdod and Livorno. In the initiatives that integrate this second generation we can find a greater variety of solutions for the challenges faced by the centers from the first one.

In terms of financing we can see different approaches. On one hand, there is possibility of a collaboration between different institutions, related with the port, including port authorities, municipalities and regions or the chamber of commerce. This approach can be found in Genoa, Le Havre or even in the port museum of Dunkirk[7]. On the other hand, we can also find initiatives that are full responsibility of the port authorities, for example Rotterdam-FutureLand, Melbourne, Ashdod or Livorno. This second model reveals how the concern regarding the social acceptance and integration has grown in the port authorities. In the first generation the port authorities were not so present in the financing or the organization, mainly done by the province or the association of port companies. The option of a joint project gives more credibility to the center since it is more unlikely that is perceived by the visitors as a public relation from the port authority.

The location issue has also been handled in different ways. We can find two main options: The Port Center placed in the port territory, as it was in the first generation, or located in the boundary between port and city, near the urban core. In Melbourne and Ashdod the structure is placed in the port area, being the second one in a restricted access location. The visit is only possible in groups, often with their own transportation. This solution allows a direct impression of the port, but it reduces the options of individual visitors. The second possibility, implemented in Genoa and later in Livorno or Le Havre, has an easier access to the facility. This second option allows an easier access to the general public, broadening the target audience. However, it is important to notice that, in several cases here presented, the choice of the location was very often more related with the available facilities than with other criteria. The majority use existing locations, in some examples occupying heritage buildings owned by the port or one of the partners, giving a stronger sense of attachment to the place and a more recognizable space.

Regarding the target audience, the majority of the Port Centers are focused in the younger public, particularly the children and teenagers deciding the educational path they want to take. In some cases, like Genoa or Le Havre, it was decided to welcome a wider audience, occasionally developing content and activities for a more mature public. For example, Le Havre developed the technical Thursdays program, during which experts from port different activities or port development do presentations about specific topics in a more detailed level.

Another element that has changed is the entrance fee. In most cases of the second generation the entrance fee is no longer applied or with a symbolic figure. The majority of the project financing has been done by the participating partners.

Simultaneously to the second generation the AIVP created the Port Center Network. This work group was established in 2011 (Morucci et al. 2016) with the goal of connecting the existing Port Centers from both generations and share the best practices. One of the main inputs of this initiative has been the Missions Charter of a Port Center, a document published in 2013 with ten key points explaining the goals and challenges if this type of projects

From the mentioned cases that form the second generation we will explain in further detail two, the Italian Port Centers of Genoa and Livorno.

Genoa Port Center

The Port Center of Genoa was one of the first cases of the second generation. The project was supported by five different institutions: the Genoa Port Authority, the Maritime Authority, the Province of Genoa, the University and the Municipality of Genoa (through the Porto Antico SpA) (Ghiara, 2012). The chosen location for the new facility was in the Porto Antico area, next to the city center and other urban attractions, like the Bigo or the aquarium, with an easy access for the general public.

The Magazzini del Cotone, where the port center is located

The university of Genoa, more specifically the faculty of economy, developed the necessary research collaborating with the port community. The main motivation of the project was not to explain the point of view of the port authority, but to include all the different perspectives of the port-city relationship.

Around the Port Center a socio-cultural agenda was developed. During the first years a series of events took place, such as the port run, movies on the docks, or activities coordinated with other museums and science centers. This panoply of actions was destined, as pointed out by Ghiara (2012), to promote the soft-values and articulate the relation between both realities.

Although the general public was the target audience, the school groups still received considerable attention. Besides the exhibition and the tours to the port territory, other activities were programmed. One of the main examples was the “Let’s adopt a ship” project, by which the student groups would be able to remain in contact with the crew of a ship (Ghiara et al, 2014).

During the first years the project received 14000 visitors each year (Merk, 2013), including almost 6000 students per year in average (Ghiara, 2012).

Genoa Port Center Source:

The Port Center of Genoa is since mid 2014 closed due to a lack of understanding between the participant partners. The goal after the first years was to give the management of the center to the port authority but for the moment the situation is unclear. This problem shows how difficult and complex the collaboration between the different institutions operating in the port-city can be. This issue will affect the image of the port and the aimed social support, in this case particularly necessary since the port has a direct boundary with the city along the entire urban waterfront.

Livorno Port Center

On November 2015 the most recent Port Center of the second generation opened its doors in the port-city of Livorno. In this case the project is developed by the port authority of Livorno, that since 2007 has developed several initiatives aimed towards a better social integration of the port. Among these actions, the one that has received greater recognition, is the Porto Aperto program, during which social activities in the port are organized, mainly during the school period.

There are several aspects from the case of Livorno that differentiate it from previous cases. The center is located inside the Fortezza Vecchia, a fortress from the 16th Century. This heritage construction is placed in the boundary between the city and the port and offers a historic context for the Port Center, as well as different points where the visitors can see the port from an elevated location. The port authority was able to use its own resources for the refurbishment of a section of the fortress since it would host the Port Center, what can be considered a port function. This issue is particularly relevant since, in the case of Italy, the law very often does not allows the port authorities to finance projects that are not related with the port activities.

Fortezza Vecchia

The Port Center includes a permanent exhibition and a library. However, when compared with other cases is considerably smaller, adapted to the local context. Regarding the exhibition itself another innovation is its layout. Although the principles of edutainment are still present, the final solution used new available technologies, such as virtual reality or kinetic games, to give a more interactive experience. Besides the fact of being more attractive to the teens and children visiting the center, this new approach allows a certain flexibility and adaptation capacity, since the necessary equipment is easier to move and transport[8].

One of the original motivations of the Port Center of Livorno was, besides explaining the port, to develop a forum where the ideas about the port-city relation could be shared and discussed (Corradini & Morucci, 2012). This goal became a reality during the spring of 2016, from April to June, when the port debate took place in the fortress and included the port center as one of the main tools to explain the port and the development project planned. The figure of the debate is planned in the regional law of Tuscany[9] in cases where the project budget exceeds 50 million €. In this case there were two proposals to be discussed, the Europe Platform, including different infrastructure related with the logistics sector, and the new maritime station, mainly destined to passenger traffic. The project would be located in a position that could create new port-city interaction, including interventions in the existing heritage. During the different debate sessions, the public got to know the issues related with both projects, besides general information about the port functioning. The debate also worked as a two way communication, since the citizens were also able to give their inputs to the discussion, although the port authority is not compelled to follow the conclusions of the debate. During the initiative the participants could also make port visits. The organization created as well an online user-friendly platform where all the information was available.

Port debate session


In the evolution of the relation between port and city we have seen how the interaction and communication has changed. The need to obtain the SLO forced many port authorities to include the social integration as one of their priorities. In an initial moment it was noticed that the use of the soft-values could help to regain the port identity of many port-cities. The development of a socio-cultural agenda has became a reality in many cases. However, we have seen that it is necessary to explain the port reality as it is nowadays, complementing the romantic vision often presented with updated information.

The port-cities are territories open to urban planning innovation, as we have seen in numerous waterfront projects. In this case, the Port Center is an element around which is possible to articulate the relation between port and city, including the local citizens., while contributing to the social acceptance of the port. These structures offer the inhabitants the opportunity to re-appropriate themselves of the port and identify it as an important element of the city’s identity.

The success of the policies developed by the different port-authorities, including the management of Soft-Values and Port Centers, is yet to be measured. The study of these actions and their results is a relevant subject to be studied, which should be approached with a holistic methodology. The investigations would have to be formulated including several perspectives from different fields. The study of the policies impact would determine their validity and how they must be adapted to the ever changing reality of the port-cities.


This paper was presented in the session about European Seaport Culture in the 13th Conference on Urban History that took place in Helsinki, between the 24th and 27th of August.



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Van Hooydonk, E., Soft values of seaports. A strategy for the restoration of public support for seaports. Antwerp: Garant. 2007

[1] Among these authors we can find for example the work developed by Bird, Hayuth, Hoyle or Meyer. All of them have explain the evolution of the relation between port and city and the port-city interface, often linked with the economic cycles.

[2] For example in the case of Lisbon we can find texts from journalists and writers from the end of the 19th Century or beginning of the 20th, such as Castilho or Proença, that complained about the options taken in the port development plan and how they affected the relation between the city and the river (Barata, 2010)

[3] It is generally accepted that the first major change in the port-city relation took place during the industrial revolution, when many port development projects took place forced by the improvements in the maritime technology. Also in this period is when the first port authorities were founded. Another important change took place during the 1960’s, when the container, invented in the 1956 by Malcom Mclean, started to be a universal cargo forcing changes in the ports layout. In terms of legislation the most recent example is the international ISPS code, which implies that the port areas must have restricted access and have to be separated from the surroundings by a wall or fence.

[4] Aldo Leopold was the first author to mention the idea of an ecological conscience in his book “A sand county almanac” from 1949. In his work, the author claimed a change in the worldview, from an anthropocentric perspective to an ecocentric one, being the man part of nature and not above it. This work, along with the book “Silent Spring” from R. Carson, published in 1961, inspired what can be known as the “Age of ecology” (Sessions, 1987).

[5] Documents from European projects such as: the “plan the city with the port” initiative, the SUDEST and CTUR projects, both integrated in the Urbact program, and the “People around ports project” from which the “Code of Practice on Societal Integration of Ports” from ESPO resulted. During the same time span the AIVP (Association International Ville et Port) also published several documents mentioning the topic of social integration of ports.

[6] The port festivals of Hamburg (Hafengeburtstag) and the Rotterdam (World Port Days) are two of the most well known events of this kind. Both attract hundreds of thousands visitors and the port is in the center of the celebration. Another sort of example could be the port run in Valparaiso or Porto, or the music festivals in Hamburg (Elbjazz) or Las Palmas (Temudas).

[7] Although not technically a Port Center, it fulfills a part of its mission and is an example of cooperation among several local institutions.

[8] The exhibition is formed by different stations and a central media table. The stations include a beamer, a white screen and a movement sensor. This sort of technology can be easily moved and adapted to other location in case the Port Center has to move.

[9] Regional Law  46/2013