Reuse and musealization of port related heritage in Lisbon

Reuse and musealization of port related heritage in Lisbon

Lisbon: a Mediterranean city

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is placed in the Atlantic coast. However, when we analyze the culture and the history of the city, we can notice that its roots are clearly linked to the Mediterranean Sea. The cultural palimpsest present in the urban structure and its heritage comes from the different great civilizations that at some point ruled this region. Its urban evolution can only be compared with other Mediterranean port-cities like Marseille, Genoa or Barcelona, where the same civilizations of the past also left their mark and the port played a crucial role for the urban development. The relation between Lisbon and Portugal with the Mediterranean region was studied by one of the main Portuguese geographers of the twentieth century, Orlando Ribeiro. In his book ”Portugal, o Mediterrâneo e o Atlântico” (1987), developed a detailed study on Portugal’s dual nature, i.e. a country which is Atlantic by location but mostly Mediterranean in culture. This book had a wide impact, since Ribeiro deepens in the concepts of Atlantic Europe and Mediterranean Europe, linking central and southern Portugal to the Mediterranean culture and northern Portugal (together with Galicia) to a pan-Atlantic European culture.

Lisbon had a constant evolution as an important port-city along its history. During roman times it was named Olissipo and it was integrated in the province of Lusitania. In the middle ages was controlled by the caliphate of Cordoba until it was reconquered by the Christians in 1147. Only in 1255 it would become the capital of Portugal.

Figure 1
Plan of Lisbon in the sixteenth century according to the engraving from G. Braun entitled “Theatrum Urbium”. Retrieved from the National Library of Portugal (cota CC-381-A).

The golden era of Lisbon arrived on the fifteenth century during which it was the capital of a growing empire. Famous explorers like Vasco da Gama or Magalhães departed from this city on the search for new land. The overseas colonies gave Lisbon a relevant international role in several fields like politics, commerce and culture. During this time the port was the soul and heart of the city. The activities here developed had an immediate impact in the urban structure and its inhabitants. Like in most port-cities, in this early stage the interaction between both entities was very strong, there were no strict barriers and the whole city was related to the port. During the sixteenth and seventeenth century the Iberian commerce developed rapidly and Lisbon remained as one of the main ports in the path from the Mediterranean sea to territories in Asia, Africa and South America.

During the eighteenth century the fade of the Portuguese capital changed dramatically. Due to the decline of Portugal as an overseas empire other port-cities took the leading  role Lisbon used to have. Finally in 1755 a natural disaster changed the structure of the city. In 1 November an earthquake with the epicenter in the Atlantic ocean close to the Portuguese sore took place. The effect of the seism combined with a tsunami and fire caused mass destruction and the death of many[i]. After the catastrophe the city was forced to develop a reconstruction plan for the downtown, the most affected area. The head figure during the whole process was the Marquês de Pombal, the powerful prime minister designated by the king D. José I. There were several proposals for the  redevelopment of the city center, the majority of them guided by the ideals of the time i.e. building more rational, healthier and logical cities. The principles followed by Carlos Mardel and Eugenio dos Santos, the engineers responsible for the project were precursory to the ones followed by Hausmann in Paris later on (Pardal,2003).

Figure 2
Reconstruction flan for the Baixa by Eugénio dos Santos, Carlos Mardel and E. S. Poppe. Retrieved from “Atlas de Lisboa. A Cidade no Espaço e no Tempo”, coord. Maria Calado, Lisboa, 1993.


The break up between City and Port

Already before the great earthquake there were plans for the regularization of the waterfront to improve the port infrastructure. During the nineteenth century the waterfront was one of the main issues in Lisbon. Besides the needs for an improvement in the docking conditions, there were several public health problems that were caused by the lack of souring and the dejects that were thrown directly to the river. Several authors have identified different proposals for the redevelopment of the riverfront, including partial or more general plans. The new port facilities were often incorporated in designs that included as well new urban tissue, including bourgeois areas with workers neighborhoods. Another novelty was the presence of new green spaces and in some cases, like the plan from Thomé Gamon in 1870, the riverside boulevard, a public space inexistent until that moment (Barata, 2009).

Finally the legal figure of the Port Authority was created in 1887, and the port became an autonomous place. This new institution was developed simultaneously with the first general plan for the port of Lisbon, which structured an industrial development mainly in the center and western part of town. The East part followed an unstructured growing process, initially small industries, but later on larger industrial complexes, that functioned almost autonomously (Costa, 2006). The Industrial Revolution, originated in England in 1780s[ii], accelerated the production process and as consequence also the transport chains. These changes had a fast impact in the port. Heavy machinery started to be used, the size of the vessels increased in short time, so did the volume of cargo and the need for space to store it. In this metamorphose the port became gradually a closed area between the city and the river. We can read in statements from writers of that period how the port began to be seen as an obstacle for the relation with the Tagus.

Figure 3
Plans comparing the coast line in 1871 and 1911, from Alcântara to Cais Sodre. Source: “Arquitectura” nº137,1980, P.29

Contemporarily, other important infrastructure was being developed that also caused changes in the waterfront. In Lisbon the first railway was inaugurated in 1856 connecting the capital with Carregado outside the city, towards the north-east. In the other direction the impact was even greater. In 1895 the railway between Cais do Sodré, near the city center, and Cascais to the west was opened. It was designed along the new coastline, and run parallel to the port and the river, next to the new Avenue  named Avenida 24 de Julho. This infrastructure immediately developed a new barrier between the city and the Tagus. The alienation process did not stop there; new avenues and heavy roads were also created to give answer to growing traffic and the needs of the city .

During the twentieth century almost the entire Lisbon coast line was artificially regularized, in order to increase the port activities and accommodate the new ships. As mentioned before, the process started in the west, but eventually continued to the east, reaching outside the municipality boundaries[iii].

All these changes ended the interaction that for so many centuries took place in the waterfront. The open activities related with the river were reduced to few fish markets and the free urban access to the water could mainly happen in the main square, Praça do Comércio, and the beaches outside the city center. The port was seen as an external element that, although employed many inhabitants, had a negative image, associated with the “sailor’s towns”, source of pollution, danger, prostitution etc (Rudolf, 1980).

In mid twentieth century a technological innovation in the transport industries increased the alienation process. The container, created by Malcolm Mclean in 1956 (Amenda,2011), increased the port needs for more storage areas, mainly outside the urban boundaries. In cities where this was not possible, the port intensified its activities within the urban structure. In Lisbon this meant that the existing barrier (fence plus infrastructure) was accentuated by a vertical wall of containers in the terminal handling this cargo. This new change caused an even heavier mechanization process, with an inhuman scale, and the feeling that in the port areas the inhabitants were unwanted visitors. Since 2004 the port authorities have to implement the ISPS Code (International Ship and Port Facility Security), that closes even more the port areas to the city and harms the possible interaction.

The new access to the river

In 1940 the Exposição do Mundo Português took place in Belém, in the western part of the city. Due to the celebration of this event, the Portuguese government took the initiative to redevelop a section of the waterfront area, allowing the local inhabitants to regain access to the Tagus river. It was planned following the example of the world exhibitions, but focused on the former Portuguese colonies and the ancient  overseas empire. The historical meaning and the connections with the past were inevitable so it was crucial that the inhabitants and visitors could reach the water and enhance its vision of the city. In the project the issue of the barrier was handled for the first time creating an underground crossing.

Unfortunately the exhibition was not followed by other projects with the same scope. The issue of the river connection remained in the dark until the late 1980s. In 1988 the first competition related with the river took place and the waterfront problem became again a “hot topic”. Already in this event the coordinator Arch. Pedro Brandão appealed to the regeneration of the waterfront considering it a crucial part of Lisbon’s identity (Brandão, Jorge, 1988). The winning project addressed the barrier problematic and proposed several visual axes and new public facilities that would recover the connection with the water in a more symbolical way.

Finally, by the end of the 1980s and early 1990s, the first steps towards a complex vision of Lisbon’s waterfront were given. Initially the extension of the recovered area in Belém gave the city a new public space by the river. At the same time several pedestrian bridges were built in order to overcome the barrier. There was also a change in the inhabitant’s idea of the river[iv]. They started to demand the connection to the Tagus, and noticed how important it was for the city’s identity.

In the last 30 years we have seen an important improvement in the relation between the city and the river. In this paper several examples will be presented where we can observe how the rehabilitation of port buildings helps the healing process of the wound between the city, the river and the port. At the same time the question remains whether all the effort made regarding the refurbishment of industrial heritage has really helped the port to establish itself as well as an identity element for Lisbon.

We must notice that in recent decades (1990s -2000s) several plans have been developed, in which the issue of the relation with the river has been gaining more attention. These documents often included studies and research regarding the Tagus and the waterfront. Some examples of these kind of plans are:  the strategic plan of Lisbon, POZOR (plan for the riverfront), Plano de Pormenor de Alcântara, the PDM (the city’s masterplan) or the  Plano Geral de Intervenções da Frente Ribeirinha de Lisboa (Salgado, 2013). Most of the time these plans had idealistic visions, sometimes too ambitious, to become a reality.

pg_intervencao copy
General Plan of Interventions in the waterfront of Lisbon. Source:

The most relevant waterfront urban development in Lisbon was the 1998 EXPO, which had as main theme the oceans. This plan was focused in the redevelopment of an area of 380 Ha, mostly described as a port brownfield although it included several working industries and companies and low income housing. The planners followed a tabula rasa concept leaving only the former refinery tower as a landmark from the industrial past of the place. The redevelopment was supposed to boost the urban development towards the east from the city center, however it created a new “island” of urbanity, with a new approach towards the river. The results were mainly positive regarding the relation with the Tagus, creating new public spaces in the waterfront but without attracting the urban development that was expected. Some of the current main leisure centers, Pavilhão Atlântico, Museu da Ciência, FIL, Vasco da Gama mall, are reconverted expo-facilities in what nowadays is called Parque das Nações.

In the present moment approximately 11 of the 19 km that form the Lisbon waterfront are accessible to the public[v]. On the riverfront we can find different examples of interventions,  from different scales and approaches. We can see public and green spaces newly developed, but also spaces that are deeply related with the past. In the 1990s several authors observed the potential of this industrial and port related heritage and highlighted the importance it could have for the city, not just as museums or sculptural elements but also as assets that could complement the existing public needs.

The existing heritage has been thoroughly studied and to be properly described it would require a long term investigation. For this reason it was decided that this paper would only focus on three different kinds of projects that have already been developed and can show the variety of spaces and the different approaches that can be taken.

In the first place we will present the two projects that dealt with the public space and the evolution of the urban structure and uses, these are the  Praça do Comércio rehabilitation and the Ribeira das Naus. The second group of interventions are single industrial buildings of large dimensions that have been restored or partially refurbished, and are mainly used for cultural activities. In this category we can find the EDP Electricity Museum, the Orient Museum and the Cordoaria. Finally in the third group we will analyze the old docks warehouses that in the 1990s were recovered for leisure activities. Two different cases will be explained, the Docas de Santo Amaro and the Jardim do Tabaco.



Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square)

The current layout of Lisbon’s main square comes from the reconstruction plans,  although before the 1755 earthquake this was already the main meeting place of the city[vi]. As it still happens today, around the square the buildings hosted the power institutions, ministries, and, as it names indicates, some of the merchant companies. For the design of the buildings and the public space several proposals were made, but the main characteristics remained unaltered. The size was determined by the urban plan and the layout of the buildings did not change considerably. Like it happened with the overall plan, the construction took several decades until it was totally finished, in the 1875, when triumphal arc was concluded. Praça do Comércio is one of the biggest squares in Europe, with an overall dimension of 180×200 m and 35000 m2. It is a perfect symmetrical design with two central elements, the statue of D.José I and the mentioned arc, from where the Rua Augusta, the main street of the plan,  starts and connects to other square from the Baixa plan, the Rossio.

Over the centuries the use of the central space has changed many times. Initially was envisioned  as the main representative space but rapidly it became appropriated by the citizens. On the arcade we can find besides several ministries and govern agencies, some historic cafes, like o Martinho da Arcada. Although the U-shaped layout remained unaltered, what happened in the central space went through different phases. At the beginning of the twentieth century it had trees in order to give shade to the users, and later on, until few decades ago, it was a central parking lot. This evolution could serve as a metaphor of the evolution of the role that the waterfront space as suffered. This is the most representative space of Lisbon, where in ancient times, but also during the twentieth century, world leaders were welcomed. The mutations in the perceptions of the space are a good sign of how resilient cities can be.

In 1992 an idea competition was made. Although there was no winner design, the main concepts were taken from the proposal developed by the architects Pedro Pacheco and José Adrião who took the second place. In this project the architects developed a new strategy for the use of the arcade and new pavements that would give back to the square the nobility with which it was originally thought, but at the same time providing a new versatility for urban functions like events or concerts (Macedo, 2011). The construction process was complex due to several issues, among them the groundwater or the complications caused by the construction of the subway directly under the square. Finally in 2007 after many political changes Praça do Comércio was redeveloped with a new project by a new architect Bruno Soares who was directly chosen by the newly created public company Frente Tejo[vii]. In 2010 the square was reopen to the public, with a new design for the central space including a new pavement characterized by stone diagonal stripes that increase the visual dimension of the square. The project maintains the arcade program for cafes and restaurants, leaving the door open to new uses like museums or commerce.

Figure 4
Praça do Comércio, Author: José M P Sánchez

Since the renovation the square has become once again part of the city’s collective image. Besides being one of the main tourist attractions, is one of the main public scenarios for events and political demonstrations. The river gets inside the city’s urban tissue thanks to the geometry and the scale of the square, nowadays more recognizable than what has been for the past half a century.

Ribeira das Naus

This space is the ancient shipyard of Lisbon. In the images developed by Braun in the sixteenth century we can already see evidences of a shipyard in the waterfront next to the royal palace. In this naval plant were built the ships that would later connect with the overseas colonies. After the 1755 earthquake the shipyard was rebuilt in the same location, remaining an area only accessible to the workers, therefore not public. This industrial site remained active until the first half of the twentieth century when in 1939 the navy decided to close the site. This change allowed the construction of the road that connected the east part of the city with the west, running parallel to the river.

The designer in charge was the landscape architecture office, PROAP, led by João Nunes. The project started in 2009 and was finished in 2014. The project was divided in two phases, a first one regarding the riverfront and the redevelopment of the avenue, and a second one which still is in progress that includes the “land part”, concerning the dry docks and the green areas. After its opening several changes were made to the original project, since the intense traffic required a different pavement for the road section.

The project follows a concept of micro-topography, increasing the contrast between the different historical times that left a footprint in the area, and at the same time reinforcing the connection with the river. Also the water edge was redone and giving the inhabitants a space where they can get in contact with the river, something missing in Lisbon’s urbanized waterfront.

The improvement of the space is clear, especially when compared with the previous stage. The presence of a green area in the waterfront is something that until this moment existed only in Belém, including the Junqueira waterfront, and in the Parque das Nações. This new area invites people to stay by the Tagus river and functions not just as connection area between two historical public transport nodes, but also as a place to stay.

The most critical aspect is the presence of the road that still runs in the middle of the project. This is an element of conflict because it breaks the project into two sections and does not allow the full usufruct of the new developed space. The issue regarding the east-west connection has remained problematic since the city started to develop along the waterfront. The traffic crossing the city center is one of the main problems of Lisbon. Since the completion of the mentioned avenue in the first half of the twentieth century, it has been clear that it is necessary to find another solution. The construction of a tunnel to diminish the impact of the traffic has been discussed several times, however the technical and budget difficulties have held the project still. In other port cities we have seen that the only solution for the crossing traffic is to create a tunnel or an elevated connection. Both options imply considerable investment and difficulties for its realization. The municipality however has decided to continue with the development of new green spaces next to the waterfront without addressing this problem.

Figure 5
Ribeira das Naus, Author: Lola Sánchez Pérez.


In a second group we can find what once were important industrial buildings directly related with the port. This typology is characterized by its great dimensions, that in the last decades have made them very attractive for exhibitions and events.

In chronological order from the moment when they were built three cases will be explained, the Cordoaria Nacional, Central Tejo (Electricity Museum) and Pedro Álvares Cabral Building (Orient Museum)

Cordoaria Nacional

The ancient Royal Factory of Cordoaria da Junqueira, was built in the late eighteenth Century, after the earthquake, by order from the Marquês de Pombal. In this building the ropes, cords and flags for the different ships that departed from Lisbon’s port were manufactured (Nabais, Ramos, 1987). Its location nowadays does not allow the same relation with the river like it used to be before the shore line was artificially rebuilt. The building was modified when the waterfront was changed by landfills to allow the railway connection from Cais do Sodré to Cascais. In ancient cartography we can see that the south façade was directly on the water and that both two ends used to be considerably larger, this last modification took place later when the path of the railway was modified.

One of its most peculiar characteristics are its dimensions, it is almost 400 meter long and 50 wide, being one of the longest buildings in Europe. These particular proportions were directly related with the industrial activities that were developed inside.

This example of industrial architecture is considered nowadays a national monument and hosts the navy archives, a naval school and two main galleries prepared for temporary exhibitions and events. Although there are several program using the space simultaneously, the building it is not fully recovered, particularly the interiors, and still does not have a clear purpose.

Figure 6
Cordoria Nacional. Author: Lola Sánchez Pérez.

Its situation in the city, in Belém, surrounded by urban voids, in front of the infrastructural barrier and its particular morphology increases the complexity of a possible full rehabilitation. Very often it is an topic of public debate.  For several years was planned to adapt the Cordoaria for hosting the National Archeology museum or the Navy Museum, but the intervention has proven difficult and costly. The building does not has the conditions for  permanent exhibitions or guarantees the climatic needs for delicate artifacts.

At the moment this area still waits for the completion of a plan in order to redevelop its connection to the river and find a permanent solution for the space.

Central Tejo

The second case is the Electricity museum, also in Belém. Built in the early twentieth century, the industrial complex known as Central Tejo, functioned from 1909 until 1972. The most representative building was finished in the mid-1920s and it is a good example of industrial architecture heritage. Its red brick façade has become an important landmark in Lisbon’s waterfront, and it represents the evolution of the city into the industrial times.

Figure 7
Central Tejo. Author: Lola Sánchez Pérez.

During the first half of the twentieth century was the main power plant in the city. It played a key role producing energy for many uses, like the railway line that runs parallel to the river, heading to the west.

Although the industrial activity stopped officially in the end of the 1970s, it was only recovered for cultural uses in the 1990s, when started to work as electricity museum. More recently, since 2006, reopened its doors as the EDP Museum, owned by the major electrical company of the country. Besides the main exhibition it also hosts temporary events.

Its privileged position on the shore increases its monumentality, especially considering that it is an isolated volume on the sore without any other buildings in the surroundings to compare with. At the same time it is placed in Belém, with many other monuments and cultural centers, integrated in the cultural urban structure.

At the present moment the EDP is building another cultural center next to the EDP Museum. This new project, signed by the British architect Amanda Levete, has also generated much discussion regarding the architecture, the location and the real need for this new building. Its sinuous shapes will create a great contrast with the place and the preexistence.  Also this project changes partially the river line, something that it was not initially allowed in the municipal plans.

This new facility, along with the EDP Museum and the coaches Museum reinforces the idea of a cultural axis along the river, developed in the strategic plans by the Lisbon municipality. This strategy has been occasionally criticized, considering that Lisbon already has museums and cultural centers with considerable budgets and great expenditure of public money.

Pedro Álvares Cabral Building

The final case in this group is the building that hosts the Orient Museum. This construction from the 1940s, project done by the architect João Simões Antunes, is a remarkable example of the architecture of the regime the Estado Novo. Being the original program a codfish warehouse, it almost has no windows in the façades, accentuating the monolithic aspect of the volume. In 1992 stopped functioning as a warehouse and it closed its doors until 2008 when reopened as the Orient Museum, run by the Fundação Oriente.

Figure 8
Edificio Pedro Àlvares Cabral. Author: Lola Sánchez Pérez

The renovation project was signed by one of the most renowned contemporary architects in Portugal, João Luis Carrilho da Graça. During the construction process there were several issues to be solved related with the previous activity of the building, the very low free height of the several floors forced the architect to find a complex distribution scheme[viii]. Another problem was the strong codfish odor that remained in the building; this issue was finally solved and did not compromise the normal operation of the museum.

Its urban situation is relatively complex, considering that it is placed in Alcântara, where several port activities are still functioning.  It is near the container terminal, the customs and navy guard facilities. Also at the front of the main door exists the infrastructural barrier that separates the city from the river. This issue might be the most critical aspect of the project in terms of urban planning.  As we analyze the building, we can see that it is not properly connected with the surroundings, which include a train station from where visitors could arrive.

Even with these problems, this example shows us that although the original use of the building was very specific and that the morphological features of the preexistence were not easy to incorporate to current uses it was possible to recover for a new program totally different from the original function.


Finally the third typology is the docks warehouses, that between the mid-1990s and the 2000s were refurbished for recreational activities. Two cases will be presented although there are many others along the riverbank in Lisbon[ix].

The first case is the Santo Amaro docks, also popularly known as “Docas”. As we have previously seen, in this zone the port activities are still functioning, where we can find the container and the cruise terminals among others. Also there are several buildings that host offices and companies related with the port. In the beginning of the 1990’s this was one of the first waterfront sections where former port buildings were transformed to host recreational uses. The warehouses were restored by privates with the support of the port authority (Rêgo Cabral, 2011). In the same area two recreational marinas were created, Santo Amaro and Alcântara.

Figure 9
Docas de Santo Amaro. Author: José M P Sánchez

We can see that this area is in a relative central location, west from the Praça do Comércio. Several public transports reach this place and is one of the waterfront sections where we can clearly see the barrier effect caused by some port sectors. Considering that there is a complex mix of functions, we can realize the consequences of having an industrial port within city boundaries, and the problems that it can generate, related with traffic and the accessibility requirements of trucks and cargo transport.

In terms of program there is a key difference with the previous cases. In the previous cases there is a cultural function, but in this case the main role is played by leisure activities. This is important for the urban waterfront regeneration in order to insure the diversity of what sort of programs can be developed in this part of the city. This aspect is crucial to make sure that the river is present in the everyday life, even though when it is only the background picture.

The industrial architecture of these warehouses has been very often reduced to a simple container for activities, which can be understood when we see that there is no special protection, unlike what happens with the other cases that are considered national monuments. Although this might be an issue if seen from the heritage preservation point of view, it might have been a positive aspect when seen from the business perspective, considering that allows more freedom to private entrepreneurs and the rapid occupation of these buildings.

A second case study is the Jardim do Tabaco. This is also a docks warehouses ensemble, like the previous one, but placed east from the Praça do Comércio.  The name is related with the tobacco customs placed in the area around the seventeenth century. It follows the same model as the ones presented before, former docks warehouses refurbished to host restaurants, bars and clubs; reinforcing the idea of nightlife by the river. A different aspect is the fact that in these buildings we can also find different shops facing the city side.

In this area of the city we can feel again the effect of the barrier and the lack of adapted pedestrian paths, especially considering that we are nearby the main square and different subway connections. In the near future we should see important changes in this section of the waterfront since the new cruise terminal will be built here.

The two cases briefly explained show other model of intervention in the waterfront, which also integrates the preexistence buildings but develops a different activity and purpose. The mix of uses present in the riverfront areas is a key aspect in order to insure the presence of people with different schedules, activities and needs.


When analyzing Lisbon’s waterfront we see different types of interventions. Until the present moment there has been a relative positive balance between brand new interventions, like the Parque das Nações, and the recycling and reuse of port buildings heritage. This is a key aspect to ensure the good relation between port and city and reinforce the urban identity. As we have seen in this paper there is not just one way to reuse the existing buildings.  In the waterfront many different activities can take place and it is important that it happens so.  We cannot just destine the river banks for green areas and museum, but also the different urban programs that we find in our cities, from culture to offices, from education to housing. In many Mediterranean cities we can see how port heritage has been recovered for different uses, like in Barcelona the Atarazanas, in Genoa the Magazini del cottone and in Marseille the industrial silos.

Through the different examples that have been here presented, we can see how important it is to plan beyond the scale of the building. In order to increase the effect of the reuse of port heritage to new activities, we have to ensure that it is well connected to adjacent areas and also linked to urban transport networks. Elaborating urban plans that take in account the different systems acting in the city, helps us to face the complexity and the conflicts between different realities. In port-cities this conflict is always present and we have to consider how the different elements interact between themselves, in order to find a balance and reach a status quo between port and urban activities.

In the process of waterfront urban regeneration several actors play key roles and there has to be a constant dialogue in order to reach good results. When talking about port cities we have always to consider the port authorities, their rules and their priorities. The municipality must have clear course for action or as we have seen there is the risk of leaving the city in an impasse, without going forward to a better relation with the sea or river. In many Western  Mediterranean cities we also see the important role played by public companies dedicated to manage the urban regeneration. These companies could be a good way to deal with conflict and coordinate the process.

Port-cities have an even more complex reality than other cities. The way their roots are connected to the sea or river makes them special. We have to plan our cities in order to get in touch with our roots, respect the identity and find a development model for the coexistence between port and city.


This paper is an improved version of the article originally presented in the  fifth Colloquium on Mediterranean Urban Studies, hosted in Mersin in October 2014.

[i] The debate regarding the death caused by the seism is not settled. According to some sources the earthquake could have caused from 10 000 to 100 000 casualties. The effects of this natural disaster were felt in the entire continent. Other Portuguese and Spanish cities suffered the shakes and destruction of the quake. The tsunami could have reached the coasts of Brazil several hours after it occurred.

[ii] The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and spread to Western Europe and the United States within a few decades. The precise start and end of the Industrial Revolution is debated among historians. Eric Hobsbawm held that it ‘broke out’ in Britain in the 1780s and was not fully felt until the 1830s or 1840s, while T. S. Ashton held that it occurred roughly between 1760 and 1830. Joseph E Inikori (2002)

[iii] Several researchers (Costa, Barata, Fernandes, Figuiera de Sousa among others) have studied the evolution of the industry along the waterfront of Lisbon. Costa identifies different stages that include changes of the scale in the industrial facilities but also their location in the urban tissue. The industry evolves from a smaller scale developed near the center (Praça do Comércio) and the west side of the city, to bigger conglomerates in the eastern section of, and finally to the autonomous complex in the south side of the estuary.

[iv] The urban waterfront regeneration projects have become a global phenomenon. During the 1960’s the first projects were developed in North America , after that we see an evolution until today’s most recent interventions in Hamburg, Rotterdam or Marseille. This kind of plans have become usual in port-cities. The inhabitants from these same cities regained the notion of important urban spaces by the water are.

[v] In the sustainability reports from 2007 and 2008 it is explained that 76% of the waterfront under the jurisdiction of the port authority (205 km) is accessible to the public. The issue is the fact that most of the heavy port activities are placed in the waterfront of Lisbon. In the report from 2007 it is said that 41% of the territory controlled by the port authority in Lisbon (15,9 km) is accessible to the public. This figure is the lowest of the 11 municipalities that have contact with the port.

[vi] In fact the king D. Manuel I changed his residence in 1511 to the palace placed in the waterfront, an area that later came to be known as the “Terreiro do Paço.”

[vii] This public company was supposed to coordinate all the projects related with Lisbon’s waterfront, including as well the Ribeira das Naus and the Carriage Museum in Belém. After several public scandals the company was closed and did not continued with other possible projects. This “quango” could have worked as a interesting tool for the development of the waterfront heritage and coordination of plans.


[ix] We can find other recycled docks warehouses in Cais do Sodré, Alcântara, Parque das Nações and Xabregas.