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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
This post is based on the paper to be presented in the AESOP YA Congress to be held in Ghent between 21st and 24th of March 2016.
The relation between cities and ports has been thoroughly analyzed from different perspective in the last 50 years. We can find several investigations that try to explain the concept of port-city and the evolution of their interaction. Many authors, e.g. Bird (1963) and Hoyle (1989; 2000) among others, have developed spatial models that explain the different stages the relation between ports and cities goes through. Although the mentioned models present limitations they are widely accepted as the better abstraction of the evolution of the port-city interface. One of the critic that could be made to these schemes is the fact that not all port-cities fit the description (Kokot, 2008). However, in order to perform a comparative analysis, it provides a solid starting point. According to Hoyle’s model we currently find ourselves in the 6th Phase, when new links between the city and the port can be established. In this article we will not focus in the theoretical research or abstract analysis of port-city development, but rather in the actual governance praxis that we can find in Europe.
In order to better understand the role of the context, the different problems and solutions that we find in the European continent a research project was proposed. For this investigation a sample of six port-cities was chosen representing different realities: Oslo, Helsinki, Rotterdam, Marseille, Genoa and Lisbon. In this selection we can find some of the main ports of the continent, such as Rotterdam, but at the same time the Nordic capitals, like Oslo and Helsinki, in which the port is mainly relevant in the regional and national level. Also present are port cities that host the major national port for industrial activities but simultaneously tourism or passenger related activities, like Genoa and Marseille. Finally the port of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, that is suffering strong national competition and seen an important increase in the cruise sector.
Newman and Thornley (1996) have explained before the differences between the planning systems in the context aforementioned. These distinctions in the national legal framework and the particular physical and social conditions generate different approaches and solutions for nuisances generated by port activities. These externalities are frequently very similar since the main harbor activities are very often alike. The PAs (Port Authorities)must have a policy to cope with the issues created by its activities in the cities since the positive effects of the port spread throughout the region but the negative externalities very often remain in the urban core (Ircha, 2013; Merk, 2013,2014). The combination between global problems and local solutions generates a diversity of management and planning practices worth observing and comparing.
The methodology for the analysis of the study cases was based on visits to the port-cities for periods of two weeks during which one of the main tasks was to perform semi-structured interviews to the responsible authorities in order to get first hand information. We were able to establish contact with the port authorities, municipalities, planning agencies and professionals. In total 15 interviews were done. At the same time we contacted the local inhabitants informally to better understand their perception of the port and the role this infrastructure plays in the social identity of the city. The methodology was completed with consultation of bibliography and official documents. For the analysis of the waterfront regeneration projects present in all the study cases we followed the method proposed by Schubert (2011), which includes quantitative and qualitative dimensions e.g. size of the project, start and completion dates, planning culture or location. Finally the time spent in each of the study cases allowed us to perform a photographical survey of the port-city environment and the interaction of the city with the water.
In the work developed by other researchers we can see that there are several key topics related with port-cities. For example in the series dedicated to port-cities from the OECD (Merk et.al. 2010-2013) the economic subject was predominant, although it also included information about the urban planning, environmental impact and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The waterfront regeneration projects are another issue that has been extensively studied by other authors, mainly with study case analysis, e.g. Schubert (2008, 2011) and Meyer (2003). Another important source are the guides of good practice developed over the last decade. Several of these publications have been supported by the existing internationals organizations focused on ports and port-cities, such as ESPO (European Sea Port Organization) the European ports lobby, the AIVP (Association Internationale Ville et Port) or RETE more focused in Mediterranean and south American countries.
We were able to identify 3 main common topics in the port-city relation among the selected study-cases: (i) Institutional relations and role of the port authorities, (ii) physical interaction, including the port-city interface and waterfront regeneration projects, and (iii) the social relation between ports and cities.
2. Institutional relation – New synergies
In the European context most PAs follow the landlord port model . Although the functioning scheme is very similar the political context of each port changes the governance capacities of each PA, being particularly relevant the national political system of each country. In the selected study cases we could also find one PA, Rotterdam, that has evolved from this model into a developer port (Vries, 2014) as we will later see.
We could find two main schemes for the national systems in the studied context, centralized and decentralized (Newman & Thornley, 1996). These two models for the national organization of the state create crucial differences between the European countries. In the particular subject we are concerned the major difference is related with the control of the PA. In the case of the centralized model the central government plays the leading role, in some cases being even the sole responsible for the PA board. This model is mostly seen in the South European countries, in our case sample we could find it in the cities of Genoa, Marseille and Lisbon. The main issue of this scheme is the fact that many decisions regarding the strategic planning and the allocation of economical resources are not taken in the PA itself, but in the central authority, usually the ministry or national department. In this decision making process the priority is given to the economical aspects of the port activity and the resources are mainly dedicated to the major infrastructural works. Regarding the relation with the city, the issue that might surge is the fact that frequently it is not considered a priority and the investment in projects or activities that could improve the synergies is very often declined. During our interviews we could see that for example in Genoa the PA does not fully controls the revenues its activity generates, therefore does not have capacity to decided where the majority of the investment should be made. Regarding the studied cases that have this model, we also found that when the PA is mainly controlled by the central state, there is a certain institutional and emotional detachment between the city and this infrastructure. This was visible in the Marseille case, where, besides the strong presence of the central state, the complex configuration of the boards hinders the negotiation process.
The alternative on the other hand is more common in central and north European countries. In the study cases this option could be found in Rotterdam, Oslo and Helsinki. In the decentralized model the city has a prominent role in the control of the PA, very often being the majority shareholder in case is a semi-private company, like in the Dutch case (Vries, 2014), or even the PA is under the “umbrella” of the municipality. Previously, in some cases, this institution used to be a department of the municipality, like in Helsinki, but recent reforms to improve the management transformed them into semi-public companies controlled by the local authority. In these cases the state also plays an important role although not so determinant as in the alternative model. In some cases is also present in the shareholding and, in most countries with this system, is in charge of the national coordination of these key infrastructures. For the port-city relation the decentralized model is more beneficial since the city has a stronger voice in the management decisions, they receive benefits from their shares and the urban issues in the interface are considered important as well.
The two models aforementioned condition the port-city relation in the institutional field, but are not the only elements that affect this interaction. Another issue is the land ownership. In the analyzed cases we found three types of situation. In the first scenario the port land is owned by the PA and it can be used as a resource for financing port projects in case a waterfront regeneration plan takes place. We could see this in Oslo, where the PA was able to finance the Sydhavna terminal through the revenues of the real estate operation involving the port territories near the city center. Another similar case would be Marseille. The GPMM (Grand Port Maritime du Marseille) controls the port land since the last legislation reform in 2008. For this reason when the port released the area for the waterfront regeneration, it received a compensation from the planning agency. Another situation regarding the land ownership is when the port territory is owned by the city. In this case there is a leasing contract which ends when the port activities are ceased in a certain waterfront section and the land is released without the need of a compensation. This scheme can be found in Rotterdam or in Helsinki. The Finnish capital can be considered an extreme case since the municipality is one of the main land owners in the city. In this case the PA only owns the constructions and machinery built in its territory. During the interviews the port representatives claimed that the land issue puts them in a disadvantage position in the case of a negotiation regarding urban issues. Finally we can find cases in which the land is owned by the central state and there is a standardized procedure for the ownership transition. We can find this situation in Lisbon, where the law states that in case the port territory does not have a current or foreseen use it should be handled to the local authorities if there is a clear plan regarding its transformation for urban uses.
In the institutional relation we could also observe another issue that affects only certain ports. These are major infrastructure that even in the smaller cases include a vast extension of territory. In the sample we studied the size of the port varies from 125 Ha of land in the port of Oslo to 12500 Ha along 40 km of the river Maas in the case of Rotterdam. This dimension affects the territorial management that in some cases it includes several municipalities. The two most extreme cases among the selected port-cities were Marseille and Lisbon. In the French case the port territory is divided into two main locations, Marseille (east basin) and Fos (west basin). Besides the two very different realities, the port activity also affects a broad number of small municipalities, at least 3 communauté from Marseille to Fos sur Mer (Bertoncello & Dubois, 2010) that demand a sit in the management board. The negotiation with so many stakeholders, each one with very different priorities and development goals, is considerably complicated. In the Portuguese capital we found that the port limits with 11 municipalities. In this case each one has a different relation with the port authority and different openness towards port activities. These issues that could seem subjective might affect the port development. In the Lisbon case one of the factors that influenced the decision of the new container terminal location was the political relation with the local authorities .
Another issue that affects this relation is the fact that the PA is not the same as the port community. Therefore, the concept or agenda of the official institution is not always welcomed by the companies, workers, unions and other individuals or organizations from the port. In some cases, mainly Genoa and Marseille, we noticed how this diversity of actors might difficult the dialogue and in some cases delay important reforms. In general terms we could see that the port communities are not so open to change, particularly if it is brought from outside the port. The PA plays a crucial role since it has to properly explain the necessary change and convince this very resilient community to accept it.
In the investigation we were also able to understand the importance of the negotiation process necessary between all the involved stakeholders. In port territories very often we find other institutions besides the port authorities, such as railway companies, road authorities, customs, public transport companies, cargo and ferry terminals, etc. In all the study cases the negotiation and willing to dialogue was crucial for the urban and port development. For these negotiations the existence of dialogue platforms, sometimes linked to a project, was considered to be a useful approach.
3. Physical relation – Interface and Waterfront regeneration projects – Dialogue and negotiation
In the selected study cases we could observe how different sorts of urban projects in the waterfront are taking place or have been developed in the past. Since these port-cities have been studied previously by other scholars into more detail, we will only mention the main aspects of them, specifically the most recent developments.
3.1 The interventions
In Helsinki, after the relocation of the industrial port in Vuosaari, several urban development are taking place that will change the relation of the city with the water. Particularly relevant are the ones in Jatkasaari and Kalatasama. In the first one we shall also see the interaction with port activities (Laitinen,2013), more specifically the ferries, that brought in 2015 10,7 mill passenger and also a considerable figure of ro-ro cargo, approx. 25% of the general throughput (Merk et al. 2012).
In Oslo the Fjord City plan is being developed since 2000, when the municipality chose to implement the urban strategy focused in improving the contact of the city with the fjord rather than the one more harbor oriented (Kolstø, 2013; Gisle Rekdal, 2013). This decision was also very representative of the different types of relation that cities have with their ports, not always considered an identity element. In this case the dialogue and negotiation has played a crucial role, since the land, as mentioned before, is owned by the port. One of the most important features of the plan is the new coherent vision for the waterfront. In the case of Oslo the new promenade along the urban shore plays an important role, since it is the link between the different areas, that go from new port terminals in Sydhavna in the south to the new centralities in Bjorvika. The plan will proceed with the development of Filipstad and Vippetangen. These sections of the waterfront will require more negotiation than in previous parts since there are port related industries operating there and the solution for connection with the urban tissue implies not just the port but also the railway company.
The case of Rotterdam presents two main examples for waterfront interventions, Kop van Zuid and Stadshavens. The first is entering its final stage and is an example of “port out-city in” type of project. In this case a port brownfield was transformed into a high standard mixed-use district. The clear gentrification we can see it was considered positive, being one of the goals of the project, since the city needed greater variety in a dwelling market dominated by social housing (Daamen et al., 2015). The second intervention could be considered a model for the future. Its scale and complexity is greater than other cases since it implies an area of 1600 Ha, of which 600 Ha of land (Vries, 2014) with many active industries. This last section of the port inside the highway ring began to be discussed in the year 2004, with an initial approach similar to the Kop van Zuid. In 2007, before the world financial crisis, it was clear that the scheme could not be replied and that a different strategy was necessary (Daamen,2010; Vries, 2014). The model changed from a “port out-city in” approach to a real coexistence among port and urban uses. The industries are considered to be important, particularly innovative ones related with the port, and the transition will be developed in a slower rhythm, with a more flexible implementation agenda. The housing program will be built in the areas that allow a compatible use. This case is considered to be very innovative since, as mentioned before, the project no longer takes place in a port brownfield, but in a active port sector. The integration can hardly be achieved, but the coexistence between port and city can be a reasonable goal.
Marseille is also undergoing an important urban transformation. After the industrial crisis of the 1970-1980 the city went into a process of social and physical degradation, unemployment rates grew considerably, the lack of private investment caused a degradation of the urban tissue with several brownfields and the productive model did not evolved from the previous scenario. The port, as in many other cases, was no longer the job provider it used to be. At the same time the city gained a negative reputation. To invert the negative development tendency the central government decided to act by implementing an urban regeneration plan in 1995, the Euroméditerranée (Bertoncello & Dubois, 2010; Martin, 2015). The operation was destined to change the image of the city and its productive model, with a new CBD where several industrial brownfield used to be, near the urban port. The operation required the cooperation of all the involved actors, including the GPMM.
One of most interest facts about this case for the port-city relation is the vertical integration of port and urban activities in several key projects. Terrasses du Port, Silo d’Arenc and in the future the J1 Warehouse show the compatibility of port activities with cultural, service or shopping programs. Besides these specific projects the process also allowed the city to regain an access to the sea in the J4/MUCEM section. Another important element was the flexibility of the plan, since the construction was only developed when a high rate of occupancy (70%) was assure, avoiding the risk of empty buildings and the possible degradation. Most importantly, the commitment achieved was translated into the city-port charter, a document that summarized the negotiation process and granted the presence of the port in the urban core, easing the acceptance of the project by the port community, not always opened to change. The plan is still ongoing and in the next years it should start its second phase, this time without affecting directly port territories.
The case of Genoa presents a different reality from the ones discussed previously. In the Italian city currently there is no waterfront regeneration project in the classic meaning of the concept, i.e. acting in a port brownfield to generate an urban tissue near the water. This sort of intervention already took place in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s and in the early 2000’s, in always linked with a big events policy (Gastaldi, 2010, 2013). The particularity of the Genoese context is the need to intervene in the active port, to give answer to specific technical issues and, in the process, use this opportunity to improve the relation of the city with the port and the sea. The Blue print project developed by Renzo Piano is a conceptual plan for the east section of the port territory focused in reorganizing the shipyards industry, improving its infrastructure and implementing a better distribution of the existing activities, which include a yacht club and water sports. Simultaneously the exhibition fair district, outside the port boundaries, should also be affected by this plan, since it also requires an intervention to invert its current degradation process. The project plans the development of 11300 m2 of housing, 25 000 m2 of tertiary activities and 12 000 m2 of commerce in the sector focused in the urban regeneration. This figure is relatively small when compared to the previous cases, which also shows the different scope of the project. One of the main features of the plan, as we can see in the image, is the creation of a new blue buffer, i.e. a water channel separating the city from the port.
In Lisbon the most important waterfront regeneration project took place in the late 1990’s, the regeneration of a port brownfield in the east part of the city for the EXPO 1998. After the event the area suffered several changes to adapt to its post-expo use, hosting a new business district, several housing projects and key cultural infrastructures. The main critic to this project was that it created an island of new urbanity disconnected from the existing urban tissue (Ressano Garcia, 2011). In 2007 the general plan for waterfront interventions was published, in which the future use of riverfront areas and port territory to be dismissed was described. This plan was developed in the strategic level and the partial projects were developed in a closer scale. The economic crisis that affected the world economy, and particularly the Southern European countries, burst short after the release of the document and several project there hosted suffered significant delays, being developed only today. In this period the absence of activities in the released areas increased the negative image of the port, although the port itself was not responsible of the situation. The importance of temporary uses was clear in this case, since they could have allowed an appropriation of the space by the inhabitants that later on might ease the integration.
3.1.7 Synthesis table with the dimensions of Schubert model
3.2 Conclusions of the physical relation analysis
One of the elements that are most relevant for the waterfront regeneration projects is the situation regarding the contracts with the existing companies. The majority of the PA, as we have already mentioned, follow the landlord model, therefore there are companies developing their activities in the port territory which have made an investment based in a long term commitment. These contracts are usually signed for several decades and imply considerable compensation sums in case they are broken. In the waterfront project they might form an impediment for the implementation of the plan. We could find this issue in several cases. In Oslo there are operating firms in Filipstad and in the silo in Vippetangen. In Rotterdam there are several companies with long-term contracts in Merwerhaven, Eemhaven and Waalhaven, that in case they had to be relocated the necessary compensation could affect the outcome of the project. One of difficulties of acting in the active port is the issue of respecting the contracts, in this context the flexible planning and negotiation skills might prove to be determinant for the success or failure of the project.
The waterfront and the port-city interface are a very specific situation, the issues affecting this part of the city are very particular and the solutions applied in other locations of the urban tissue might not work here (Hoyle, 1998). At the same time in this context the municipal authorities deals with another institution managing a vast territory, the port authorities, with different priorities and goals, that counterbalances the negotiation process. In order to find solutions very often an specific planning agency is created. In the analyzed study cases we found several agencies, frequently linked with a project, instead of a steady organizations meant to follow different plans. In Rotterdam the Stadshavens evolved to be a dialogue and coordination platform after the approach to the project changed (Daamen,2010; Vries, 2014).
In the case of Genoa we found precedents of these sort of initiatives, created by both sides of the relation. For the port plan the PA established an agency for the development of the port Masterplan. This new office counted with the collaboration of world renowned architects and planners, e.g. Rem Koolhaas, Solá Morales and Bernardo Secchi, to provide new ideas for the port-city interface (Boeri,1999). Later on another agency, the Genova Urban Lab, was created to solve the existing urban issues, among them the relation with the port. The synergies created in the process have helped to improve the dialogue between the municipal and port authorities.
In Marseille the Euroméditerranée was created by the national state with the scope of the urban regeneration of the city. The participants in the new public agency were also the GPMM, the urban community, the county council, the regional council and the municipality. The agency forced a dialogue almost inexistent until that moment. One of the greatest achievements of this initiative has been the connection between the national and the local decision makers. This agency is linked to the project development and its destiny is to disappear when the plan is finished. However it has already left a document that should work as guide for the future of the port-city relation, the “city-port charter”.
The other cases have not developed an specific waterfront agency, but in certain moment have established joint venture dedicated to specific projects, such as the Frente Tejo in Lisbon, focused in three major public projects and later extinguished.
3.2.3 Two tendencies
Waterfront projects have been studied by several authors since the pioneer interventions in Boston and Baltimore in the 1960’s. Ever since we have seen an evolution in the development models. In Europe we could until now find several generations of waterfront revitalization (Schubert, 2008 and 2011). The first one exemplified in London, the Canary wharf, contrasting later with what took place in Barcelona or Genoa where the public space and leisure had the dominant role. Later the focus changed to mixed- use and housing very often linked with a landmark cultural project, following the example of Bilbao.
In the studied port-cities we found two main sorts of waterfront revitalization plans. In the Nordic countries the concept has followed what we have already seen in other locations e.g. the Netherlands. The relocation of the port industrial harbor created the opportunity of a waterfront project. In Oslo the new port terminal in Sydhavna has been developed with the revenues from the Oslo Havn KF, which also benefited from the real estate operations . In Helsinki on the other hand the decision of moving the industrial port to Vuosaari released a considerable space for new districts in the city.
While in Oslo the free market law prevails, therefore high standard housing for high income class, in Helsinki the role of the municipality as landowner allows a greater social mix in the new city districts in the waterfront. The composition of both social structures might provide in the future different perceptions of the public space and the urban environment by the water.
The second type of waterfront intervention is the one that acts in the active port territory, as we see in Rotterdam and Genoa. In these cities the plans are not limited to port brownfields, but propose the reconfiguration of the active port, considering at the same time the urban needs and the harbor related activities. In this cases the interface between both realities changes and technical needs from the port are used to improve the synergies with the city. When comparing both we could say that Rotterdam takes the concept further since the transformation is not physical but also social and economical. The RDM campus is one positive example of interaction between city and port in the educational sector, in the boundary between both territories (Aarts et al, 2012). This sort of plans could be considered a new generation of waterfront regeneration projects since they offer a new approach to the port-city reality. The Euroméditerranée plan in Marseille has elements from both, since this operation has not altered significantly the configuration of the port territory and only in a small section the PA has released area by the water. The main innovation was the coexistence of port and urban activities, as we have seen in several projects.
The waterfront interventions have clear development stages (Schubert, 2008). Starting with the abandonment of the area and relocation of port infrastructure, to the emergence of a port brownfield, later proceeding to the implementation of plans and its revitalization. In the last decade we have already seen that the process was starting to change, since the real estate development were proving to be economically very convenient. The pressure to the port to move it mains infrastructure to another location was not only due to the technical and logistic needs for more space, but also from the different urban stakeholders. We might have achieved a new stage, the waterfront intervention no longer happen after the port released the area, but rather take place in the active port. At the same time also the model of intervention has changed in these cases. If previously the main goal was to develop green public spaces, cultural venues or mixed-use and housing developments, what could be named the “beauty waterfront”, now it seems we have an alternative “productive waterfront” model, where the industries are considered important for the city and the effort has to be made for the compatibility and coexistence between the port and the city. This evolution in the waterfront projects and the dangers of the previous model, more focused in housing and leisure programs, were already detected by other authors, e.g. Chrarlier (1992), who named it “the dockland syndrome”, Bruttomesso (2009) and Ducruet (2013), who considered a mistake to remove all the port activities from the regenerated waterfront, denaturalizing it from its original function.
4. Emotional relation
During the study case visits and analysis we were able to observe a third dimension of the port-city relation, the interaction between the citizens and the port. Until very recently the PA’s in general terms had not considered the importance of the public image and the communication with the inhabitants of the city where they were placed. Several scholars have already studied the negative image of the port, e.g. Hooydonk (2007), but the responsible authorities did not considered it an issue for their governance until recently.
Regarding this topic one of the key concepts is the SLO (Social License to Operate). As explained by Dooms (2014), 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. This subjective dimensions are often difficult to measure. In port-cities the SLO is not achieved easily since, as we mentioned before, the cities that host the harbor have to deal with the majority of the negative consequences of the port activity. In order to grant this license, the ports have to look for values that go beyond the usual port arguments regarding their economic impact, jobs, tons of cargo, etc. The soft values of seaports have in this context a key role. They are defined by Hooydonk (2007) as “the non-socioeconomic values which include among others historical, sociological, artistic and cultural sub-functions that form the soft-function of seaports”. In the selected port-cities these soft-values were presented in several ways, from education to heritage to cultural or communication initiatives.
During our research we observed that the different actions taken in this field could be organized in four main categories: education, communication, heritage and social agenda. Besides these key issues, the matter of the port as an identity element was considered to be transversal to all subjects. The problem of the urban identity in port-cities has been studied by several scholars, e.g. Hooydonk (2009) Warsewa (2011). In the concerned port-cities we were able to see that not all of them that host a port consider themselves a port-city, or the port as a key element of their identity. We can mention Oslo or Lisbon for example, in which the citizens and the authorities acknowledge other features as more important for their identity. In the Norwegian case, as stated before, the fjord has a dominant role, the people are more related with the natural element than with the artificial port landscape. In the Portuguese capital the same happens with the Tagus river. Although is very clear how the port activity and development has affected the character and morphology of the city, the inhabitants are not able to relate with the port, sometimes even considering it an impediment to a more fluid relation with the river.
In the other cases the port is considered an important characteristic for the collective image of the city. When we observe the different cases is clear that this key infrastructure does not has the same weight in the identity of each city. The role the port plays in Rotterdam cannot be equal to the one in Helsinki. However we have detected that there might be a growing detachment towards the port. For this reason the need to improve the social relation is clear. In some cases the goal is to strength the role of the port, in others, to create a social relation with it. Therefore the four categories above mentioned have to work jointly to achieve the desired result.
The relation with the educational institutions has been one of the fields where the PA have made the greater efforts for the social integration. In all the visited port-cities the PA had organized school visits to the port facilities for groups of children of different age. In another level the collaboration with the universities is also very frequent. In Marseille the PA participates in workshops with the architecture faculty. In Rotterdam the cooperation with educational institutions goes beyond visits or workshops. In the RDM campus the start-up companies focused in port activities give the students the opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge. The education programs are also being use to deal with another issue, the fact that to younger generations the port is no longer seen as an attractive place to pursue a professional career.
Regarding the issue of understanding the port, an specific infrastructure can be found in some port cities, the port center. This space is focused in explaining the port to a broader audience, particularly children and teenagers, to allow the inhabitants to regain a sense of ownership of the port (Marini et al., 2014). Very often their exhibition and educational activities are complemented by boat tours where the students can see what they have learn before. In two study-cases, Rotterdam and Genoa, we could visit the port-center. Both cities have this kind of centers, although the one in Genoa has been closed since 2014. There is a Port-Center Network organized by the AIVP which coordinates the relation between the different institutions. In the future is expected to find more centers in the different ports. In some port-cities we could also find maritime museum that often have a section dedicated to explaining the port.
In the paper “Lipstick on a Gorilla” (Van Stiphout, 2007), we could read that the port is now a reality that must be explained. The communication has been another field in which we have assisted to important changes in recent years. The use of social media to explain the port and interact with the inhabitants has become a regular activity. Most PAs have a communication strategy but often does not reach the targeted audience. The port of Rotterdam has been active in many channels to spread the news about the port activities. They produce a free newspaper and have an online TV channel, an initiative we can also see in Hamburg. Another useful strategy is the information signage, where the port and its history can be explained to the inhabitants. In Oslo the information strategy in the Fjord City project was particularly effective since it was linked to the waterfront promenade project. The possibility of joining a coherent urban vision with user friendly information boards proved to be useful. The port history is explained where the current waterfront regeneration projects are being built. The explanation of the transition could help to develop an emotional connection with the port heritage and improve the port identity role.
The next category where we can find soft-values strategies is the heritage. In old port areas we can often find harbor machinery, cranes and warehouses. During the field trips we could see the different role this heritage has played in the port regeneration projects. In Oslo, Helsinki, Rotterdam and Genoa we could see the cranes working as sculptural elements in the public space. The use of warehouses and other buildings like silos is also frequent. In Marseille the Silo d’Arenc was refurbished into a cultural venue, keeping the port circulation underneath. In Genoa the congress center is the old cotton warehouses. In Rotterdam, in the Katendrecht district, we should see in the near future several projects in industrial buildings take place, which could allow a mixed use of the space. In the same city we can also find the historic harbor associated with the maritime museum. In this space, besides the cranes and boats we can also see the workshops where they are repaired, allowing a relative coherent atmosphere. The use of heritage to connect with the history of the port is one of the most effective and accepted strategies. In case the buildings or cranes are kept, is important that they are integrated in the new urban plans but with the right context, otherwise, they might be isolated elements losing their strength as a whole.
4.4 Social agenda
Finally, the last type of strategy is the social events for the port integration. The open door days and port festival, like the ones in Rotterdam, Helsinki or Lisbon constitute the typical example of this sort of action. In most guides of good practice they are mentioned as an effective method of bringing people to the harbor and rising the interest of the general audience for the port issues. These sort of event might be characterized by a certain folklore and detachment from what really a port is nowadays. Nevertheless they do attract attention and must be complemented with the educational programs and infotainment from the port-centers and maritime museums. Besides these venues, the port also can be active in the other events, such as the city marathon, concerts or exhibitions, that put the focus in the port, or the port can work as background. This way, the harbor image is introduced in the life of the inhabitants, what could lead to a broader acceptance of its presence.
All the strategies aforementioned are correlated, the cultural venues are often associated with the port-centers which can be placed in port heritage buildings. The soft-values can be explained in different ways but their effects in the general mindset cannot be measured from one year to the other. The successful cases that use these strategies have been applying them for the long term results. However, it is important to have a realistic idea of the perception of the port by the citizens by performing studies, like the one from Lisbon in 2007, where the actual image of the port is evaluated. The effects of these policies could lead to higher acceptance of the port.
In this article we have not focused in the environmental policies followed by the different PAs, although is clear they are the first priority regarding the coexistence with the city and CSR. This is a broader subject to be dealt in another article, but we can notice how important they have become in the different ports we visited. The control of the different pollutants using sophisticated sensor system is an usual practice in the European ports. At the same time there is a constant dialogue with the responsible authorities for an effective control of the nuisances and the companies operating in the port. In another dimension we can also see how the new terminal or port expansion projects have environmental concerns regarding the fauna and flora. In the Maasvlakte 2, in Rotterdam, the creation of the breakwater reused material from the original Maasvlakte. The new port territory in Vuosaari is placed in a Natura 2000 reserve, therefore the nuisance had to be reduced to the minimum. For this reason the sound barrier in the east border is a wall made with concrete blocks that allows the integration of vegetation to reduce the impact of the port.
5. General Conclusion
After analyzing the different study cases one of the original assumptions proved to be correct, it is not possible to achieve a real physical port city integration, only a sustainable coexistence (Bruttomesso, 2011). The current technical requirements and security limitations will constantly hinder the full integration that belongs to the early phases of Hoyle’s model. In this case the description of Hoyle’s 6th phase might be correct, since we did found new links between the port and the city, and in the future they might even be reinforced due to the economic development associated with port industries and port-clusters.
In the selected port-cities we found common problems to all of them, e.g. environmental issues, traffic associated to port activity or the barrier effect. However, the physical, political, emotional and institutional context plays a key role in all the cases, requiring specific solutions for the mentioned general problems. We also found that the abstract models proposed by several authors and the rankings do not fully express the reality of the port or the complexity of the port-cities.
The two existing schemes regarding the national governance, centralized and decentralized, can affect the relation between the port and the city, particularly in the institutional level. These differences can later be seen in the effort the PA is able to do in order to improve the interaction with the city. The allocation of resources controlled by a central authority might difficult the investment in the disclosure of the soft-values of seaport, what could in the long term increase the positive synergies with the inhabitants.
In the waterfront we have seen how the intervention model has evolved, although in the selected study cases the plans developed in the 1990’s and 2000’s are currently under development. The new strategies are focused in intervening in the active port, in some cases generating new types of interaction between both realities. The need of a port-city combined strategy affects both the physical and economical development. One technical improvement might cause an spatial redistribution, which could imply a new access to the water or new associated industries. This change, that in this article we took the freedom to name “from beauty waterfront to productive waterfront”, might introduce a more balance relation and better acceptance of the port presence. At the same time this sort of plans could help to maintain the port identity, providing a certain variability to the necessary coherent vision for the waterfront.
Finally, during the analysis of the study cases, it was clear that the role of the PA has to go beyond the management of the port territory and activities. The port has to assume its role as constituent element of the urban structure and collective image. The disclosure of the soft-values of seaports by the PAs should help the port to achieve greater acceptance by the citizens. If we consider that very often the PAs are politicized institutions it seems reasonable that an investment is made for the improvement of its public image and obtaining the SLTO. We have seen that the full physical integration between port and cities will not be possible, but the social integration of the seaports should be considered an important goal to be achieved by the PAs.
 According to the AAPA (American Association of Port Authorities) at a Landlord port the PA is responsible for the basic infrastructure which later leases to private operators for the different port activities.
 The term communauté de communes refers in French to a federation of municipalities. In this case the three communauté in question gather 27 communes. On January 1st of 2016 a new administrative body, the Métropole d’Aix-Marseille – Provence, was created which gathers the aforementioned municipalities and Aix-en-Provence. This new institution should easy the territorial management and the relation of the municipalities with the port.
 Ro-Ro is, as defined by the AAPA, Short for roll on/roll/off type of cargo. This sort of cargo is not lifted inside the ship with cranes, but rolls on and off it, since it goes in cars, trailers or other type of vehicles.
 Another case where the importance of the contracts situation can be seen is Hamburg. For the 2024 Olympic proposal, that finally was rejected by the citizens in a referendum, one of the bigger challenges was the figure of the compensation for the companies operating in the Kleinen Grasbrook, port territory, where the Olympic village was supposed to be built.
 The port of Rotterdam has two Port-Centers: the EIC, placed in a central location in the port territory with the scope of general explaining the harbor and the port activities, and the Futureland center, in the Maasvlakte 2, focused in explaining the port expansion project.
 Both PAs have channels in the online platform YouTube
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Guides of Good Practice:
SUDEST-Sustainable development of Sea Towns (2007)
PCP: Plan the city with the port, strategies for Redeveloping City-Port linking spaces (2007)
For the last couple of weeks we stayed in the Finnish capital. This city, as we mentioned in the last post, is undergoing great transformation. In the year 2008 the industrial port left the city center to move to the new Vuosaari Harbour. Since then several important waterfront developments have being taking place and the city skyline will change considerably over the next decades. The experience in Helsinki allowed us to know better the transformation process, the relation between the city and the port and the concerns for the future.
The work process followed was similar to the other cases analyzed so far. On the first place we made an intensive visit to the city and the affected areas, including the new port. During this time a photographic survey was carried out. The result can be seen in this gallery. At the same time we visited the relevant urban information institutions that could give us significant information regarding the urban evolution and the port-city relation. For this reason we visited the city museum, the urban development information center Laituri and another info-center focused in the Jätkäsaari area. Unlike other cases we did not visited the maritime museum since it is placed in another city, Kotka, and it is more focused in the maritime history than in the port.
In order to get the necessary impartial vision of this case we met with representatives from the port and the city. In this occasion we were able to interview Ms. Satu Aatra (SA), Planning Manager in the Port of Helsinki, and with Mr. Rikhard Manninen (RM), head of the Strategic Planning Division at the City Planning department of Helsinki and responsible for the team developing the new Masterplan.
The relation between the port and the city
During the research we came to know that the Port of Helsinki has changed it status very recently. This institution was until the end of last year a department of the municipality, as an independent entity but under the city hall management. In the beginning of this year, as told by SA, the port changed to be a limited company, however still under the “umbrella” of the municipality. This transformation gave them more independence and a stronger position when defending the port interests. Besides the direct and indirect economic impact and jobs generated by the port another argument for its presence in the city is its economic independence, the port is self-sustainable. It is an economic asset that does not cost money to the city in terms of investment or maintenance.
Another important aspect in the case of Helsinki is the ownership of the land. In many other port-cities one of the main challenges is the fact that the port is an important owner of valuable land. For this reason it has a certain power over what happens in its territories and what would happen in case they released it for urban uses. This situation very often leads to intense negotiation regarding the price of the land and the economical compensations. In some cases this issue might be the solution for financing the new port infrastructure, as we saw in Oslo. In Helsinki the situation is rather exceptional since the municipality is one of the main landowner in the city. Even the land the port uses for its activities is owned by municipality. In this case it works with long terms concessions allowing the port to build the necessary equipment or terminals remain as their property. Given the situation is clear that the city has a very powerful position and the port is in a weaker position when compared with other cases.
When we spoke with the planning professional they both explained that the relation between both institutions is complex and regarding some subjects rather tense. The most controversial issues affecting the relation are mainly the ferry traffic and its consequences and the fact that for some political sectors the port should be completely placed in the new harbour, releasing the territories in the city center. Also relevant was the process for the new Guggenheim museum that could explain how the relation between institutions works. These issues will be addressed later in this article.
It is important to mention that although there are some tension points, there is an effort being made for the collaboration between the planning departments of both organisms. During our meeting with RM he explained that there is a minimum of four meetings per year between the port and urban planning authorities in order to synchronize main planning goals and agendas. To these meeting also representatives from the ferry companies attend to exchange ideas that could improve the collaboration between the different stakeholders.
The history of the city is deeply connected with the port. Helsinki was founded as a commercial port and we see the maritime character of the city in its evolution and in the waterfront. During the time spent here we were able to notice that this connection still is important for the citizens. Both interviewees agreed that for the city the port is a relevant part of its identity. As it was mentioned by SA, for the inhabitants the port holds an important place in the collective memory, although it might be somehow bucolic and detached from the current operation of the port. It is generally known that the ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security) code does not allow a direct interaction with the port activity as it used to be. For this reason the more mature citizens pass their memories to the youngster and these ones still identify the port as an important place for them, although they did not experienced the same interaction as their grandparents.
The City Museum explains vaguely the importance of the port, but this issue might be solved in the next years when the new city museum is opened. When we asked other people who have no direct relation with the port or planning department they all agreed that the port is part of the city.
In the current moment the port only takes 11 km of the 130 km waterfront, hence the port is no longer an obstacle for reaching the water. The regeneration project could play an important role if they are able to keep the port identity. If the people feel the port as their own probably they will support its location in the city center. This aspect along with the location needs from ferries and economic benefit they bring might be the best argument the port has to keep its presence in the city.
The move of the port facilities from the city center to the Vuosaari Harbour was decided by the city planning department in the masterplan from 1992. At that time, as it was explained by RM, the discussion was mainly focused on improving the port capacity. During the discussion an alternative location was considered, in Kirkkonummi, west from Helsinki. At that time the municipality acknowledged the important economic role the port played for the city and the region. Only later the planning authorities saw the potential of the areas released by the port in the city for implementing a waterfront regeneration project focused on housing and mixed use.
The construction of the new terminal, as explained by SA, was a joint venture between the urban and national authorities. Although there was an existing large shipyard, more land was needed for the construction of the new port. At the same time there was a necessary coordination with the national authorities, not just for the financing but also for the connections with the road and railway networks. RM explained that it was a complex and long process. The location is near a Natura 2000area which needed to be protected from pollution and noise. At the same time there was a difficult negotiation with a private landowner. Finally the project was developed between 2003 and 2006.
After the new harbour was built and the port started to work there in 2008, the institution has felt a certain pressure regarding its current location. We have seen during the second half of the XXth century that the waterfront have become one of the preferred location for new urban development projects. This international trend has been seen by the port with certain apprehension and somehow a possible threat towards its position in the city. This behavior is understandable if, as mentioned by SA, we see that the general process has been to “expel” the port from the city and also that there are political sectors who believe all port activities, including the ferries, should be located in Vuosaari. This critical voices might have forgotten what was acknowledged in the masterplan from 1992. The port is relevant for the city for economic and identity aspects.
In the new masterplan we will see that a future expansion for the Vuosaari harbour is considered. As explained by RM the port accepted this decision with some mistrust since it could be seen as an argument to force moving all the ferry traffic outside the city. In the same interview it was also explained that the main reason for this expansion is possible future port growth and new logistic needs. These issues were consulted with experts from the city hall.
The ferries activities are the main issue in the port-city relation. In the case of Helsinki this is a particularly complex situation. The elevated number of connections, almost 11 million passengers and a considerable cargo traffic difficult the integration of this infrastructure in the city. These figures are even more impressive if we consider that they have been reached after 10 years of unstoppable growth. One decade ago, before the Vuosaari harbour was developed, nobody could foresee the impact this sector would have in the city and port economy, and in the urban traffic.
We already saw in Oslo that this is a difficult problem. In order to be profitable these companies, just like the cruises, need a fast access to the city center, therefore its location outside the urban core is not possible. We must consider that this specific sort of maritime traffic is particularly complex since it combines passengers, many taking also their own car, with cargo, mainly trailers, that will be directly taken by trucks when arrived to destination.
The ferry companies need the combination of the different activities in order to be profitable. In the case of Helsinki the situation is more intense than others because we find not just tourist that come for a short visit, but also commuters that live in Tallinn and work in Finland. For this reason there is not a seasonality as strong as in the cruise industry, therefore the traffic generated is constant all year around.
At the present moment there are three ferry terminals near the city center (Katajanokka, South Harbour and West Harbour) and one in Vuosaari. As it was mentioned, through these terminals pass every year almost 11 million passenger and between 25% and 30% of the port cargo. This intense traffic, as explained by SA, might bring up to 4000 vehicles every day to the city, which is a significant number. Although we have to put this figure in perspective with the general traffic in Helsinki main roads. There is no argue that the ferry traffic makes an impact in the city, but in general terms the city needs to improve the traffic management system. This is one of the main concerns for the new city plan, and it will be handled properly.
The traffic problem is a challenge for the next masterplan, particularly to one of the boldest ideas developed on it, the transformation of urban highways into more urban boulevards. The positive effect this change could bring to the city is unquestioned, but how it can deal with the traffic generated by goods transportation, not just generated by the ferries but also by the business operating in the city center, is yet to be seen. This issue will be studied in further detail in the implementation plan, the following step once the masterplan is effective.
In order to deal with the heavy traffic generated by the ferries there was also considered the option of building tunnels under the city center. This possible solution that could indeed solve the issue still is considered in the masterplan, but will be up to the decision makers in the municipality to see if it is a viable option. As we know, this option implies a significant investment and a complex construction process that could last many years. On the other hand, this solution has already been developed in other cases with positive outcomes, just like we saw in Oslo in previous posts.
The discussion regarding the location of the ferry terminals has been going on for several years. The necessary common ground could have been found. In the West Harbour redevelopment project a new ferry terminal is under construction. Once this strategic decision has been taken it seems unlikely that the ferries will be forced to move outside the city. Also during the interview with the Urban planning department RM clarified that the ferries and passenger ships traffic has been accepted as one important element of the cityscape, it would not be reasonable to insist in moving them outside the center.
For this issue there is even another possibility being contemplated. If the ferry traffic continues to grow it might be necessary to consider a redistribution of the terminals. In this scenario the possible relocation of some ferry lines in Vousaari could be considered. In order to make this solution effective the existing subway line should be extended until the harbour area. This is a considerable investment, that is also difficult to justify if it is only going to be made for the ferry passengers. In the masterplan the subway extension is an open possibility that will have to be decided in the future.
New areas in the Waterfront
West Harbour – Länsisatam – Jätkäsaari
The project to be developed in the West Harbour is probably the most relevant for the port-city relation. This project, along with the south harbour, is the only new area where port and urban activities will still have to coexist. The new district will host the new ferry terminal build to give answer to the increasing demand in the Tallinn-Helsinki connection. This new terminal will be placed further south extending the area to the end pier. At the same time the new construction will allow new berths for the ferries making this connection.
The construction of the new city district is currently taking place and several housing areas have already been developed. But the greater construction phases are yet to come. In the waterline we see a new landmark gaining shape in form of a 16 floors tower that will host a hotel. This project will give an interesting urban landscape since this new construction in Jätkäsaari will contrast with the existing shipyards. This industrial settlement will continue where it is. The company that owns the shipyards has the intention of staying in Helsinki and the masterplan also counts with its presence in the waterfront.We will be able to see an urban maritime atmosphere in this area like in very few places in the city.
In the North harbour, or fish harbour as it used to be known, the presence of the port activities will disappear. Nowadays the responsibility of the port is resume to keeping the access and the dock for the coal supply for the existing power plant. In the future with the probable deactivation of the plant this function will no longer be required.
In this new city district we will see one of the biggest development projects in Helsinki, including several skyscrapers. The focus of the plan is mainly housing, but it will also include several office spaces. The main question remains what will happen with the existing industrial areas. As mentioned, before the power plant is a major decision for this new district, its future is currently under discussion. If Helsinki wants to succeed in its quest of being carbon neutral the presence of a coal powered will hinder this goal. When the decision to deactivate the plant is reached, then the issue would be what to do with this important mass placed in the waterfront. The construction characteristic do not allow an easy reconversion, but it could be considered as industrial heritage element, perhaps for cultural purposes.
We have seen that many housing project will be developed. Very often in the waterfront regeneration projects these new apartments have high prices, hence the new inhabitants are probably from high income classes. The gentrification process is very strong and in some cases inevitable. In Helsinki this might not happen so clearly as in other port cities. The strong position of the municipality as landowner allows a bigger regulation of the market. Therefore, since the land owned by the city is very often not sold to a private but instead long term rented the city can apply certain rules. In the areas here presented, as it was told by RM, the distribution will be: 20% of all housing should be subsidized, 40 % would have controlled prices, following the Hitas system. Finally the remaining 40% should be traded in a free market.
The system used by the municipal authorities allows a better social diversity, hence the waterfront has a more public character that in other port cities.It is important to know that although the majority of the land belongs to the city, there are some plots that have been sold to private. Also the area where the oil harbour used to be belongs to private hands and is currently under development.
The Guggenheim process
The Guggenheim museum development process has been an important matter for the city and the port in recent times. Also a complex issue between different institutions. As we know the construction of a new museum of this scale very often generates a lot of discussion at different levels.
In this case the architectural competition for the new cultural venue took this issue to the international stage. The scale of the competition, 1715 entries, generated a significant debate in the media regarding the work produced, the different approaches and even an analysis to state of the arts in architecture. In a more local context the public argument is whether is reasonable to invest in this new infrastructure if Helsinki already has an important cultural venues network, and other museums are already under construction. Also there is the problem of paying to a foreign cultural institution to place in the city a franchise of their museum. The ongoing debate might have undermine the public support to the initiative even before the final design is known.
The main issue regarding the port-city relation in this case is the fact that the new museum will be placed in an area the port is currently using. The activities happening there, parking lot and catamaran ferry to Tallinn, could certainly be rearranged and improved, but this issue was not considered as one of the priorities of the competition. Is important to remember that the city owns the land where the port is placed therefore has great decision making capacities in this area. On the other hand the conciliation between the different activities, cultural, urban and port, was not a priority. The nonexistent role played by the port in the whole process is clear not only in the competition report, but also when we see the composition of the jury. Out of 11 members not one was representing the port.
We must also point out that the process is only in the beginning, the chance for collaboration is still possible. The winning design by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes has a certain flexibility, besides the inherent architecture quality. This aspect leaves the door open to a future integration of the different activities existing in the area.
Port strategy towards the city
During the interview with SA we were able to see the what are the main strategies followed by the port to have a “healthy” relation with the city. At this point is relevant to know that the Port of Helsinki received an award from ESPO in the year 2010 for the societal integration of the port. If we read the application document we see that indeed the port carried numerous initiatives at that time, perhaps motivated by the move of the port to Vuosaari.
The port continues to develop a social program to insist in its integration. For example, besides the official website with all the port information and the different publications, we can also find specific information webpages. There is one specific important case, the website dedicated to the port development projects. In this page we can see what the port is doing in the west harbour or the different initiatives taking place at the moment.
The activities aforementioned have a particular focus in the younger audience. The PA has developed a stronger program with the schools to allow the youngsters to visit the port and get to know how it works from the inside. This measure presented several security challenges that were solved without affecting the port operations.
In terms of the general public the port has hosted several open days in recent years, but without an specific date. This events often take place associated to other venues, or in some cases they are linked to different target groups.
Regarding the existing information billboards placed along the waterfront we came to know that they do not belong to the port. They belong to the city and were placed long time ago, when the port was still a city department.
At the moment there is no port-center where one could get to know the history of the port and the role it plays in the city. In the city museum the information is relatively scarce. This issue, as mentioned before, might be solved next year when the new city museum open its doors.
Port innovation: Buffer zones, lighting, sound barriers, traffic control
One of the most relevant aspects in the Helsinki study case is the use of buffer zones. We have seen before that they were necessary for the Vuosaari harbour in order to protect the existing Natura 2000 spaces. These green areas, besides protecting the natural reserve, also work as “cushion” between the housing developments in Vuosaari and the harbour. They were also used for creating a new golf course, a compatible activity with the industrial port activities.
In the new port we also find several other aspects that are innovative. For example the lighting scheme and sound barriers developed by the architectural office APRT. The illumination is a very important subject in Finland since they have very reduced amount of sunlight during great part of the year. For this reason is normal to develop proper illumination projects with architects and landscape architects. The sound wall is particularly relevant because it is the “façade” of the port to the natural reserve. Besides reducing the acoustic pollution produced by the harbour activities, integrates the vegetation in its structure and contains an sightseen point for the port and the natural park.
The other relevant innovation are measures being developed to diminish the impact of the heavy traffic generated by the ferries. This strategy consist in the combination of an already efficient automatic check-in system for the trucks with several waiting areas, placed outside the urban core, some of them in the buffer zones. This system would allow the traffic generated by the cargo coming in the ferries to flow with less waiting areas required. At the same time the trucks could await in places where they do not cause any problems, releasing the waterfront for other uses. A similar system has been working in Valparaiso, Chile.
Helsinki was an important industrial city. Part of this past can be seen in several building in the city, like the Kaapeli factory or the gasometers in Kalasatama area. The port only owns one building listed as heritage, the Olympia terminal, next to its headquarters. The port is responsible for its properties and looks after them. However there are several old warehouses that probably were port property but are now private and have been transformed to alternative uses. We can find them in Katajanokka, where another waterfront regeneration project took place in 1980’s.
The old cranes are another important part of port industrial heritage. In Helsinki we can find them in the Munkkisaari area. They are owned by the city and the main concern should be to keep them as a memory of what once used to be there. There is a anew project prepared for the area where they are placed, and hopefully these cranes will be respected and integrated in the design.
The case of Helsinki is very particular regarding the powerful position its municipality holds. This characteristic has on one hand limited the decision making capacity of the port, but on the other hand has allowed a plan led waterfront regeneration of significant proportions. In this context, and in an often difficult position, the port has tried to defend its interests and stay in the city. The efforts have resulted in a compromise between the responsible authorities to allow the presence of the port recognizing its economic and identity value.
The dialogue between the concerned stakeholders is crucial to find the common ground for a sustainable development. In this case the regular meetings and mutual recognition are the backbone of the relation. The problem might surge when the stronger actor abuses of its position to impose its will without the agreement of the other actors. So far this has not happened, although the port recognizes a certain pressure towards its position.
During the time spent in this city we acknowledged how difficult the ferries situation is. The success of this sector is definitely something from which city and port benefit. Is a crucial part of the twin-city program. However there is the risk of dying of its own success. If the traffic and other externalities caused by these activities become too big the port risks losing the favorable public opinion. We have seen that the people living in nearby areas already might not be so pleased with the current situation. In this case the constant dialogue with the neighbors is important, but it might be necessary to go further. For example, in Hamburg a commitment was found with the developers of the housing projects near the port to implement a certain type of construction quality regarding windows and soundproofing, or even designing the house distribution to diminish the negative effects of living near the port. In the case of Helsinki a positive reinforcement program could be developed, for example by giving one free ferry ticket per year or a discount to the most affected citizens.
The Guggenheim process could be a metaphor of the relation between the different parts, where the stronger stakeholder is somehow imposing an agenda. Besides the discussion if it is reasonable or not to develop yet another cultural venue, we could see the process as a missed opportunity for the collaboration between city and port. It would have been a very interesting approach for both the museum and the harbour.
The mixed programs building are a path into the future for several reasons. They allow occupancy at different schedules; they are economically more viable; in terms of environment are more sustainable; also the risk of a failed investment is reduced. At the same time it would have been very interesting to see under a new development the transition of uses, from the most intense port activity, including the cargo coming through the ferries, to the most urban ones, the cultural agenda of the city. If we see it from another point of view, it could be considered as a connection between local challenges and global fluxes, both in terms of transport and it terms of culture if the inclusion of a ferry terminal and port center in the project would have been considered. The process is not finished so there is the possibility to correct the path and use this development as a chance to strength the port-city identity of Helsinki.
The maritime identity of the city is very clear when we walk on the waterfront, we can see old wooden ships, ice breakers, marinas, ferries and fishing ships. Besides there are also the shipyards, old warehouses and old cranes. This Genius Loci must be preserved. The new development projects must integrate these elements without affecting their meaning. Not all waterfront areas are the same, the variety should be protected and enhanced. A special sensibility is required when acting in these areas, otherwise there will be 130 km of green waterfront without a particular attachment to the place and the history. The construction started recently and the process will last for several decades, for this reason the benefit of the doubt is here needed.
When we see that the city and the citizens have the port as an important part of the collective memory it would be important to reinforce this aspect. The communication strategy followed by the city and the port regarding the port history could be improved. The city museum contains insufficient information and the existing billboards on the waterfront are in poor condition. In order to give to the people the information about what used to be there it would be interesting to find a more effective communication strategy. The project developed in Oslo could be a good example of how to do it.
The transformation of Helsinki is only in the beginning, therefore some aspects of the case are difficult to evaluate. The first steps are promising and looks like the change will improve significantly this growing city.
We could learn from several innovative practices developed by the PA and the city. The Vuosaari move was very successful and is a good example of how to implement a new port in the XXIst century. The way it relates with the context, the transparency, the sensibility to certain elements (like the lighting) and the general organization are positive aspects to be studied. The traffic management strategy to be implemented could be an important innovation to be applied in other cases. Helsinki is a proud port-city, the relation of the port with the citizens is probable the most important element of this case. This is something to be admire and to replicate in other contexts, for example Lisbon
Helsinki is the capital of Finland. A city with over 600 000 inhabitants and approx. 1,4 mill in the metropolitan area. These are relevant numbers if we consider that the overall population of Finland is just of 5.5 million persons. Also the Helsinki metropolitan area is responsible of approx. one third of the country´s GDP.
The city is placed in the shore of the Finland Gulf, a region that also includes other important cities like St. Petersburg and Tallinn, with which Helsinki has historical bounds. Geographically is a very complex area, as we can see in the images, the city has around 300 islands of different sizes and almost 130 km of waterfront. This context has forced a complex urban settlement and it is an important challenge in terms of urban and port planning.
Finland’s capital is a relatively young city when compare to others. It was founded in 1550 slightly northern than its present location, in the shores of the parish of Helsinge, by King Gustavus I Vasa, from Sweden. The goal was to create a merchant port city to rival with Tallinn on the other side of the Gulf of Finland. Later on, in 1640, the city was moved to its current location, from where the sea was more accessible.
Helsinki and Finland have spent most of its history under control of foreign kingdoms or empires. Until 1808 was integrated in the Swedish Kingdom as an important city for commerce and strategic reasons, but no as a Capital. During this period the city suffered several important fires and invasions by foreign troops, mainly the Russians. In 1808, after another Russian invasion, it passed to the hands of the emperor Alexander I. From that moment it gained the status of capital city of the Grand Duchy of Finland. During this time the city grew and gained several institutions that would express its capital city role, like the University, the Theatre or the Senate. The urban plan was drawn by J.A. Ehrenström, and C.L.Engel was appointed architect for the construction of the city.
During the Russian domination Helsinki established itself as capital city and developed an important cultural life. At the same time it gained a multicultural profile and even tourism started to flourish with the neighbor city of St. Petersburg.
During the first World War Helsinki was an important naval base, particularly the fortress of Suomenlinna, an important Landmark in Helsinki´s shore that has played a relevant role in its history. During the last phase of the World War I, in 1917, and in a tense social atmosphere, Finland´s Parliament approved the declaration of independence and Helsinki is the capital of the new republic.
Right after Finland became an independent country the civil war took place, with two sides named the whites (conservatives) and the reds (pro-bolchevikes). The first ones won the war with the help of the Germans. Over the last century Finland has kept a complicated relation with the Russian neighbor and has been involved in different conflicts because of this reason. During the World War II Helsinki suffered several bombings but nothing compared to what happened in German cities during the same conflict. This allowed the city to recover relatively fast and to keep most of its relevant buildings intact.
The last half of the XXst century was a growing period for Helsinki, during which its population would pass the half-million mark and the city would grow significantly. This expansion took place mainly in the outskirts encouraged by the massive presence of automobiles. Later on this car dependence would become a problem the city tries overcome.
In recent times one of the major changes that we have seen in Helsinki was the relocation of the main industrial port facilities to the new harbor of Vuosaari. This change would allow several significant urban projects destined to plan the future of the city. It is expected a significant increase of the number of inhabitants, some indicate around 200 000 to 250 000 until 2050.
The port of Helsinki
In the case of the Finnish capital the port is the raison d’être of the city. Since always it has been one of the main gateways for the import and export of cargo of the country. Nowadays is a crucial infrastructure for trade and passenger traffic. In a recent study about the economic impact of the port in the country and region´s economy it was explained that in terms of GDP it has an impact of 1% in the country, 2,7% in the region and 4,8% in the city.
The importance of the port is also clear in terms of employment. In the mentioned study is said that the port employs 24 000 people, we guess that is including direct and indirect jobs but is not explained. This number means 7,6% of Helsinki´s workforce and 1% of the entire country.
Regarding the distribution of the impact in the GDP of the different activities we see that clearly the cargo traffic is responsible for the 77% of this effect in the economy, and passenger traffic for 23%. However, in the same study we can see that this distribution is not the same in jobs. In this case the passenger traffic is responsible for 44% of the generated jobs and cargo traffic for 56%.
Besides the obvious economic importance of the port, it is also one of the main identity elements in the urban landscape, particularly in the waterfront. Although the industrial port is no longer present in the city, since it moved to Vuosaari in 2008, the passenger and cargo ferry traffic has an important presence, that somehow creates a dynamic skyline. This sector is responsible for the majority of the almost 11 million passengers that pass through the port every year. Also between 25 and 30% of the Port comes in the ferries. This intense traffic is focus mainly in three destinations: Tallinn, Stockholm and St. Petersburg. In the first case, due to the short distance between both cities (80km), is even a commuters service, serving people that live in Tallinn and come to Helsinki for professional reasons.
The port before 2008 it used to be in several locations along the urban waterfront. Besides the land where ferry terminal are, the port used to take also the areas of Jätkäasaari in the west harbor and Sompasaari in Kalasatama in the east part of the city. Several decades ago the port had even more territories, specifically the Katajanokka island. At the present time, and after the main industrial port areas moved to Vuosaari, the port has reduced its presence in the city to the passenger terminals, the cargo handling associated with them and the remaining shipyard in the west harbour.
We have seen that the presence of the port in the city has been considerably reduced in last decade. But the changes in the waterfront started long before that. In the article written by Kyösti Oasmaa we can read that already in the 1970´s and 1980´s the first waterfront regeneration project already took place in Merihaka and Katajanokka. Later on from the 1980´s until early 2000´s also in Ruoholahti we could see another port territory be reconverted. It is clear though that the major change is taking place now, a process that started in 2008 and will continue during the next decades.
Since the industrial port moved out of the city several simultaneous operation have been taking place. In West Harbour we can identify different projects happening right now. Jätkäsaari is the main one in terms of size, but there are others, like Hernesaari, Salmisaari and Telakkaranta. All this new areas will be transformed into a mixed use neighborhood and it will join the Einraranta project, already finished, to form a new urban area by the waterfront. The figures of the West Harbour development are remarkable, all together the transformation will affect an area of 200 Ha, creating housing for 30 000 new residents and 20 000 workplaces.
On the east part of the city we also see a major waterfront regeneration project, Kalasatama. In this redevelopment project the area to be transformed is not just port territories, but also several major industrial brownfields or the transformation of functioning power plants. Just like in the West Harbour project the numbers are impressive, in this case the area comprises 175 Ha of land, the construction should last until 2035, it should create housing for 20 000 new residents and 8000 new workplaces.
As we have seen Helsinki is undergoing great transformation. We will see how all these new projects affect the relation with the port, and what role should it play in the city. Also we will see how is the relation between the city and the port, both in an institutional level and on an “emotional” one. In order to get the most precise information we will interview Ms. Satu Aatra, planning manager from the Port Authority of Helsinki, and Mr. Rikhard Manninen, director of the strategic Urban Planning Division.