Since this blog started I have been contacted by many interested on the port-city relationship. Initially I was surprised and pleased to see how many people share a common passion for this topic. During the time past I have gotten in contact with other researcher developing interesting investigation projects, from different perspectives that somehow complement themselves. This blog has been since its beginning a platform to share information about port-cities, for this reason it seemed appropriated and useful for its readers to briefly present the research from these colleagues and give their contact for networking opportunities.
In this first post about fellow investigators I will present four of them with whom I have shared discussions and coffee breaks during (sometimes boring) congresses. We all share the same passion for this topic and their work is worth knowing. The following lines give a short introduction to the research of Karel Van den Berghe, Beatrice Moretti, Paolo de Martino, Hilde Sennema,Marica Castigliano and Fatma Tanis. You will notice they all have different backgrounds, but share some similarities. The project descriptions have been provided by themselves.
Karel Van den Berghe
Analyzing the Relational Geometry of the Port-City Interface
This PhD research (Ghent University 2014-2018) applies a relational approach to the study of port city interfaces. Such approach allows us to analyse how actors are connected, transact and assign meaning and value to local development. Much of the literature and studies on the port-city interface have primarily focused on late 20th century transformation processes at the urban waterfront. This fails to appreciate the often continued presence of port activity within cities and falls short in understanding how development agenda of port cities are relationally constituted. Therefore, this PhD research has three main goals. First, we theoretically develop the hypothesis that the port-city interface is not a closed system, but a relational construct through which heterogeneous flows of actors, assets and structures coalesce and take place. Second, using this theoretical framework, a conceptual framework capable of categorizing different relational port-city interfaces is presented and applied in a schematic way to the port cities of Ghent, Belgium, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. By mapping the relational geometries of these port cities, our results show how both public and private actors through networking strategically relate in different ways, across different territorial scales, within different institutionalized structured and between different economic sectors. Third, by analyzing the relational geometries, they provide us with examples of different dynamic actor-relational interplays and how this results in particular development trajectories. Eventually, this research questions the perceived geographical dichotomy between port and city.
PORTUALITY XXI – Models and Strategies for the Urban-Port Dynamic Threshold
‘Portuality’ is a concept rooted in some urban centers from the very early on. A territorial quality which specifically denotes those cities born and developed through strong historic/symbolic and economic/functional relationship with its own port. So, ‘portuality’ is a landscape requirement or a constitutive specificity of some territories. The research supports the recognition of ‘portuality’ as a specific character and together believes that the urban-port threshold, – in its various shapes and patterns -, could emerge as the main symbolic field of exploration where the ‘portuality paradigm’ is expressed also as a planning principle for coexistence strategies between port and city. The urban-port threshold materializes in the complex space along the margin between the two authorities, in that recurring landscape in which the city and the port are side by side. This heterogeneous but unique system is marked by an administrative boundary and is subjected to continuous hybridizations becoming a medium, an accumulator of change and transit. The urban-port threshold is, indeed, a dynamic system, a ‘filter space’: precarious, discontinuous, fragmented into parts where the juxtapositions take sufficient shape to acquire a dimension and be recognizable. According to this approach it is possible to update the old dichotomy ‘city-port’ outlining a new vision in which the port city is a forma urbis in progress, a composite, plural and open figure affected by the speed of changing processes and influenced by the many factors that every day are embodied in its territorial palimpsest.
Port-city development. An interdisciplinary analysis for port city in transition. Naples as case study
Numerous actors have been involved in the planning of the port and city of Naples; actors who have different ideas and goals, different tools, and even time-frames. The European Union, the Italian nation, the Campania Region, the Municipality of Naples, and the Port Authority act upon the port at different levels of planning. Each entity has different spatialities and temporalities. Their diverse goals have led port and city to develop into separate entities, from a spatial, functional as well as administrative point of view. The different scopes of their planning are particularly visible in the zone between port and city. As a result of these different development goals, the interface between port and city, particularly in waterfront zones that form the geographical area between the old city and the modern port, is undefined and its future is in limbo; in fact, the whole relationships between city and port requires rethinking.
Since the XIX century, the multitude and heterogeneity of planning authorities has produced many uncertainties for the port-city relationship in Naples, and a stalemate for the areas where the port physically meets the city. Today, a real regeneration process of the port areas is not yet started, for different reasons and city and port are really separated. This research explores why the city and port of Naples, one of the most important historical ports in Italy, seems resistant to urban plans, as well as co-operation between various actors involved in the urban planning processes. Using the concept of path dependency theory, the research aims to develop an actor-institutional and spatial understanding of the changing port-city relationship in Naples and the resulting urban transformations.
The Port-City as their Business: the involvement of entrepreneurs in the Rotterdam policy network, 1930-1970.
Despite changes to the physical structure of port cities during the twentieth century, ports continue to be connected to the urban scale through local policy systems, business networks, and labour markets. Moreover, ports are still recognized through city names and often build their marketing strategies on a port city identity. In her PhD research, Reinhilde Sennema (Erasmus University Rotterdam) looks at the case of Rotterdam analyze this phenomenon between 1930 and 1970, a time of severe crises (Great Depression, Second World War) and immense infrastructural innovations (petrochemical industry, container). She focuses on the role of port related associations, institutions and individuals in the Rotterdam policy network between 1930 an 1970, and asks why these actors were involved in urban developments, such as the reconstruction of the war damaged city center. In order to do so, she uses archives of, for example, the association for port interests (Stichting Havenbelangen), which was seen as the marketing department of the port of Rotterdam. It is expected that, already in the 1930s, the city of Rotterdam was considered to be an important asset in the world-wide marketing of the port. Conversely, from the 1930s until well in the 1960s, policy makers constructed and used a narrative that a strong port was the foundation of a wealthy city. This study therefore looks into early forms of public-private partnerships, and aims to shed light on the interests and values that are at play within present day collaborations between port and city as well.
Port Systems as Driving Force of Regional Development Strategies – Planning towards Logistics and Urban Regeneration Scenarios
The research project focuses on port systems as networks of infrastructures that spread in the regional territory, for instance through seaport areas, inland terminals, logistics platforms and corridors.
The study starts from the question “how the ‘economies of the sea’ shape the lands?”. It specifically aims to investigate processes of governance involving Port Authorities, Cities and Regions and how they could support new strategies for development, beyond the border of the seaport and according to their specific ambitions.
The ‘spaces of flows’ (like flows of goods) are influencing contemporary landscapesand affect human behaviours and built environments. For this reason, the study investigates global networks focusing on the effects that the supply chain issues produce in the local context of port regions.Port areasof logisticsthat are part of the contemporary urbanized worldare also strategicin planning, especiallywhen new scenarios and urban regeneration programs are set up.
The theoretical framework of the study is based on Post-Metropolitan Urban Studies. According to this theory, the city is no longer a compact urban form. Urban planners have to deal with new ‘splintered’ forms of urbanization and urban structures spreading in wide regional areas. Considering that logistics areas vary in size, distribution and location, the study investigates the port system in a multi-scalar perspective focusing on the multiple actors involved in its governance processes. The port system, with its infrastructural nodes and links, is part of this multi-scalar urbanization and – as source of important transcalar economies–becomes the hard structure of port territories and the study argues that it should be considered in urban development strategies. This infrastructural armour constitutes the ‘operational landscape’ which supports the urban life as –even if it doesn’t seem part of our lives–it provides daily services and influences the organisation of the contemporary society.
The research project aims to investigate the port system and the aspect of governance, trying to answer to the main question “How the improvement of the port system could lead planning strategies for urban and regional development in Italy?”. It includes three sub-questions related to logistics, geographical and historical aspects:
How do port economies shape the territory and whatare the infrastructural geographies of port regionalization?
How do these new geographies affect the “surrounding environment” and how do they modifyspaces and plans of the Port-City at the local scale?
How can we address the gap between transport/logistics and urban development policies?
The study focuses on different European port regions and it investigates the aspect of distribution related to processes of logistics geographies and the aspect of relations among Port Authorities, City, Region and other actors.International cases are used to identify key variables in spatial and governmental evolution of the selected port region.
PORT CITY CULTURE OF IZMIR AS A CROSS-CULTURAL CONSTRUCT – Narratives of Izmir’s Border Crossing Practices since 16th Century
The thesis explores the importance of port city culture through narrative analysis of social-spatial developments in Turkish port city of Izmir. The research aims to investigate how city was constructed by short and long term immigrants and how narratives took position during this construction.Izmir is a particularly appropriate case for this analysis. Travelers have left narratives of the city since the 16th century describing daily life, events, Izmir’s built environment on waterfront and also hinterland. The PhD project has an intention and motivation to achieve to the present and points out how contemporary city and port city culture relation could be re-established through its trans-cultural history.
Port cities with their long-standing and diverse histories, their global networks and changing fates have attracted numerous commentaries and decision-makers have used them carefully to help build a local port city culture. This local culture thrives throughcontinuously evolving of international relationships, goods, people, and ideas, etc. Its locus is the contact zone, a range of diverse spatial figures—industrial, residential, leisure, religious, education, offices- that are centred around the waterfront but also dispersed through the city.
Port city culture is related to numerous different cultures that clash in port cities, “under impacts of internal and external political, economic and social forces” for beneficial of port and trade activities. Plenty of actors, users, protagonists from different countries, from different backgrounds contributed to Izmir’s port city culture. Collaboration of local and European knowledge created unique form.
Alfred Louis Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn, “Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions,” Papers. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University (1952).
Are you also a young researcher investigating the port-city relation? contact us!
We will do future posts featuring other researchers. I take this opportunity to invite young scientist dealing with the port-city relationship to get in contact and explain the research project to be featured in another similar article.
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)
The time spent in Genoa was enough to have glance of the existing challenges and to better understand how a complex geography can condition the development of a city and a port. In the previous post we mentioned the particular situation of this case regarding its context. The fact that there is almost no flat land has forced the development parallel to the coast line of both the city and the port. The urban agglomeration has also other two orthogonal development axis, matching two rivers, the Bisagno and the Polcevera. Another particularity of this case, although is something we might appreciate in other cities, is the fact that several city districts used to be independent villages that were later annexed to the main urban core. In the Genoese case this situation is even more flagrant since its longitudinal configuration increases the differences and the distances. When we analyze this situation we see that the port and one particular road are the main links for the territory in this direction. The fact that the Port spreads along the coast from Piazzale Kennedy to the Voltri Terminal creates a continuum of maritime activities of different kind, from industrial harbour to marinas.
For the analysis of the case we followed the same methodology as in the previous cases. We visited the areas where the port-city relation is more intense and the elevated places from where we can see the contrast between the different environments. Along the visit we also made a photographic survey where the possible conflicts or synergies can be visited. The result of this work will be published in the Flickr where all the other port-cities albums are. Besides the field analysis of the relation we also visited the cultural institutions that could provide insights to the interaction between the different realities. Finally several interviews with the responsible stakeholders were performed.
In this city we can find several institutions that relate with the port identity. One of the main cultural venues where we see the historical relation of Genoa with the port and the sea is the Galata Museo del Mare. This museum fulfills the role of city and maritime museum. As we will later see until very recently there was another important space to understand the linkage between city and port, the Port-center. We can also find a maritime museum in Pegli, a smaller space more focused on the maritime activities.
In order to better understand the Genoese reality we got in contact with the local authorities that could add important information to the case analysis. More specifically we were able to reach the Municipality, Arch. Antonio Pastorino and Arch. Nicoletta Poleggi. In the Port Authority we spoke with Ms. Paola Gianpietri (PG), responsible for the new Port Plan (Piano Regolatore Portuale – PRG in Italian) currently in approval phase as we will later see. Finally we spoke with Arch. Stefano Russo (SR), responsible for the Blueprint concept plan in the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. This last interview was an exception when compared with the previously analyzed cases, where we did not speak with private companies. Genoa is special in this aspect since the work of the architect Renzo Piano has a significant influence in the city, the port and waterfront development.
The relation between the city and the port
In the emotional relation between the city with the port we can find similarities to what it happens in other port-cities, particularly Marseille. The maritime roots of Genoa are very clear and until not so long ago many families had a strong relation with the port activities. Obviously this has change in the last decades, the mechanization processes and changes in the economic flows has led to the situation we currently find ourselves in. The port is no longer the job creator it once used to be, although still is an important stakeholder in the employment market. Parallel to the decrease of jobs in the port we have also seen the continuous expansion of the port territories. In the case of Genoa, as we saw in the previous post, the increase of port areas took place mainly during the past century, from the east to west leaving the historical port behind. Also we find port areas near the Castello hill, mainly industries related with naval repair, yacht and rowing clubs.
Due to the physical evolution of the port, as explained before, the relation with the port is not uniform in the entire city. In the areas where the harbour first expanded,for example in San Pier d’Arena, the rejection of the port activities is not so strong. Curiously is in this part where the physical relation is more complex since the barrier effect produced by the port is stronger and is harder to intervene. The planned projects for this section of the city, as mentioned by the municipality, are in fact focused in taking profit of the port border, to transform the existing road into a sort of main connection that would reduce the traffic in the district’s urban tissue.
Towards the west is where the relation gets more complicated. This happens mainly because further west we find the most recent expansion projects. In the collective memory remains the image of this part of the city as the area where beaches of Genoa used to be. In the area of Cornigliano we find naval industries and the oil harbor. Both activities produce strong negative externalities regarding acoustic, air and water pollution. In the future we will see several changes in the area, mainly in the Porto Petroli (Oil Harbor). This infrastructure will be reduced and some of its activities will change their operation into a less space consuming one. Moving some of its elements to the inland and making connections with pipes directly to the ships.
In the Voltri area is where we find the most delicate relation, matching the area where the last port expansion, the Container Terminal, took place. This project was inaugurated in 1992 and changed significantly the configuration of the coast in this part of the city. At the time the possible impact was not a main concern, although a water channel was created as blue buffer to the city. Nowadays there are several construction sites in this area to configure a green buffer running parallel to what is known Fascia di rispetto di Pra (Respect strip of Pra). In this space we can find several public sport and leisure facilities such as a football field or the waterfront promenade.
In the west part of the city, the most affected area by the Voltri terminal, we can also find an association named Fondazione Primavera,focused on the development of the city district. This autonomous organization tries to handle the relation with the port, considering it an important part of its territory. For example, in their vision for the district they include a point regarding the porto amico (the friendly port). They accept the port presence but demand certain improvements for their life quality, such as electric quays that would cause less acoustic pollution. This is not an organization created by the PA or other institution, although they do keep a dialogue.
It is clear that the majority of the coexistence issues might be found in the west part of Genoa, but also in the east we could see problems. More specifically in the area near the naval repair where an intense industrial activity takes place. The city district in the hill next to it does not have any barrier that could protect them from the noise, also the height difference accentuates this issue.
In general terms, as pointed out by PG, the port community is aware that the city does not know well what happens in the port. To solve this problem, as we will later see, in 2009 the Port center was created, this type of initiative will be further studied in the next stage of the research. Nowadays the PA is conducting a study to better understand the impact of the port in the city and the hinterland. The focus of this survey is the economy, but also includes the employment impact and it might provide new information regarding the public perception of the port.
The institutional relation in the case of Genoa has as well several peculiarities. On the contrary of what we have seen in most of the previous cases the interviewees from both authorities, the Municipality and the PA, agreed that the relation is quite straightforward and the synergies are in general terms positive. This is quite surprising if we consider that usually there are several points where is difficult to find an agreement, but we must also understand that there are precedents of close collaboration among both institutions.
The cooperation between the Municipality and the PA started in the late 1980’s for the 1992 exhibition. During the process there was a strong dialogue for the development of the project. Later on, for the different waterfront interventions near the city, the collaboration was also necessary. From the year 2008 to 2012, the Genova Urban Lab was established, where once again both entities worked together for the improvement of the relation and the urban environment.
Simultaneously the PA has changed their way of looking to the city. PG explained that there has been an evolution of the PA initiatives towards the city, mainly regarding the activities that can happen in the boundary between port and city. The intention of the PA is to go further than the mandatory relation forced by the law for the approval of institutional documents and plans. However she also pointed out that each body has different priorities and goals, what eventually might lead to more intense negotiation.
Where we could find more difficulties was in the relation between the PA and the national government. In Italy a centralized system is established, just like in France and other south European countries. For this reason the PA does not have full control over its budget and the revenues their activities generate. Although in recent years the control by the central government has slightly eased, the PA still is not able to fully decide where it will allocate its resources without consulting the national authorities. The interviewees mentioned that probably, if the port was more autonomous regarding its financial management, it could be more generous regarding the projects more related with the city.
In previous posts we have already seen how the organization of the country regarding its infrastructure can affect the relation between ports and cities. Related to this subject we will also see some changes in Italy in the near future. In recent years there has been a discussion regarding the organization of the Port Authorities. The main issue is the possible combination of different PAs into what could be consider regional PA, for example creating the Ligurian Port Authority replacing the ones from Genoa, Savona and La Spezia. The initial idea behind the process could, in our opinion, bring positive outcomes, since it would allow a better organization of the port system and better coordination regarding the maritime traffic. The law is currently under discussion and the initial idea has evolved, changing the criteria for the combination of the different PAs. As it was explained by PG, the last news they got was that the new PA would combine Genoa and Savona, leaving La Spezia with the PA responsible for the ports of Tuscany. Another problem could be the new Port Plan. This document, which we will later see in detail, is currently in the final development stage and the PA expects to have it functional by the end of next year. In case the new port system law is official before its approval, it could mean significant delays for the port plan, with the need of a new unprecedented document for the new institution.
The Port and the Waterfront – Long standing discussion topic
The waterfront of Genoa has been a subject of public argument of several decades. As we explained in previous posts, in the late 1980´s and early 1990´s the port area near the city center was released and a new public waterfront was created with a project from Renzo Piano. After this operation we can find other contributions from several renowned architects and urban planners for the port and waterfront of Genoa, including Piano himself several times. In 1996, the PA decided to create a specific agency where the new port plan would be discussed and new ideas could be developed. This new approach included the collaboration with the university and four well known architects: Rem Koolhaas, Marcel Smets, Manuel Solá Morales and Bernardo Secchi. The process was coordinated by Stefano Boeri and it brought new concepts, mainly for the port-city interface, which could have inspired the port plan published in 2001. We will not stop in detail in each one of them since there are several publications and articles that explain in detail the projects. The main areas of intervention were in the Cornigliano-Airport area, by Smets, the boundary between the city and the port from Ponte Parodi to La Lanterna, by Koolhaas, and the east part of the harbour, from the Porto Antico area to the Fiera del Mare (Exhibition fair). The last mentioned project was focused in a section of the city that is currently been discussed thanks to the Blueprint from Renzo Piano that we will later explain.
In the first decade of the new millennium we saw another ambitious plan for the Genoese waterfront. This time Renzo Piano decided to develop a plan for the entire port, not just the released area. The goal was to redesign the port territory giving it a certain coherence that would eventually rearrange the logistic area of the port and improve its capacity. Consequently, this could lead to new waterfront areas been released for public use.
The main idea of this new plan, presented in 2004, was to transform the airport into an artificial island in front of the city. This would allow the space of the airport to be used for new container terminal. In the San Pier d’Arena area several quays would be landfilled to allow more area for port activities. At the same time the naval reparation could be transformed into an island placed in front of La Lanterna. The plan caused controversy and several changes were requested. In the following years, 2005 and 2006, the project was reviewed and adapted to different demands. The moving of the airport was considered a key point but the idea of changing the naval repair area was dismissed. Another main goal was the improvement of the public access to the sea, for this reason in the area of Multedo we would see several changes. Here was where we could find the oil harbour, one of the most polluting activities along with the coal energy plant, the idea was to relocate them and leave the opportunity for new waterfront uses.
The plan was very discussed by public entities and the port community, but eventually it was not translated into a reality. The need of massive investment, estimated by president of the region at the time in 4,000 mil. €, was considered excessive. When we asked the interviewees about the failure of the plan,they also mentioned other points, such as the airport or the landfill needs. Regarding the airport,the main issue was that moving it into an artificial island it would not solve the problems it causes. The height limit established by the responsible authorities or the limits to the port activities would remain the same since the landing and take over routes would be very similar to the existing ones. Another issue was the execution of the project. Until the new airport was concluded,the existing one would not be dismantled and prepared for port activities. Also the economical and ecological impact related with the key project were an issue. To execute the necessary landfill, the idea was to use earth coming from the new highway and railway connections, with several tunnels that would generate excessive dirt. Since these new infrastructures were not built the impact caused by the artificial island would be even greater.
The Affrescowas not implemented but some of its ideas would later become a reality, such as the reduction of the oil harbor or the deactivation of the coal power plant. In this plan it was already clear that the port community is formed by very different realities and that change is not always seen as something positive.
In September 2015 a new document named the Blueprintplan was publicly presented. The author, Renzo Piano, decided to give it to the city rejecting any kind of compensation. As told by SR, Piano’s office was contacted by members of the region, PA and the municipality to request him a concept plan for a part of the waterfront. This time, in contrast with the Affresco, the area was significantly smaller, with clear boundaries and specific problems. The concerned part of the port was the waterfront between the Porto Antico and Punta Vagno, where Piazzale Kennedy is in the east part of the city.
The main concern in this intervention was the current situation of the naval repairs shipyards that needed new facilities in order to continue with their activity and not move away to other city, such as Marseille as it has been rumored. On the other hand the same companies are not so opened to major changes, as we saw in the Affresco plan, so the solution needed to work without major configuration changes. Besides this main issue, which was the main problem for the PA in this area, we have other elements that demanded a new solution. Regarding the maritime activities in this area, we also find several marinas, sport and leisure associations, like the Yacht Club (the oldest one in Italy), the rowing club, or Societa’ Canottieri Genovesi Elpis, among others. These organizations are also very important since, as we will see, they do not fully agree with the proposed solution.
From the city side,the Fiera district has become serious urban problems. The global importance of industrial fairs has been diminishing over the last decades since the advent of new and more effective communication methods. In Genoa we can still find the Boat Show, which is one of the biggest worldwide, and other minor events that only use the existing facilities for a short period in specific dates. This situation is becoming problematic because the current buildings are oversized and have entered in a possible degradation process. At the same time the lack of revenues has caused serious economic problems to the public company that used to manage the industrial fair, therefore the maintenance is even more complicated. This is an urban problem that was included in the scope of the new plan.
Finally another issues were the fact that the area hosts several important road connections that add complexity to the situation. Also this part of the city center until now did not had any sort of direct contact with the sea.
Renzo Piano, besides considering all the existing problems, also took the opportunity to give access to the water to this city district, creating a new longitudinal park, as pointed out by other authors following the idea of Solá Morales. This new public space would be able to connect the Porto Antico to the Piazzale Kennedy, an area that would also be regenerated into a new green area.
The main concept of this plan is the development of a new water channel that would create a sort of blue buffer between the urban and port realities, giving a more clear separation between the different industrial, sport and urban areas. The line followed by the new water canal it is not casual, it follows the path of the old port walls, the Mura della mala paga. This new water area does not always has the same width, but always keeps a minimums size in order to allow the navigability. The widest point would be in front of the current Yacht club, where it would stretch until reaching a maximum width similar to the one of the old dock, the first harbor of Genoa. Besides the new channel, that transform the shipyard section into an island, there would also be a reconfiguration of the industrial part, creating more space due to the planned landfills. These interventions would use the land extracted from the new waterway hence increasing the sustainability of the project.
In order to grant the access to the industrial area, a new parallel road would be created in the level of the intervention, following partially the path of the Sopraelevata. The new island would include two connections with firm land. The waterfront longitudinal park would exist mainly on the city side of the waterway, and only partly on the sea side, in front of the Yacht Club. During the design phase there was the attention to provide at least the same linear meters of docking space as the existing ones, although in most cases the final figure was bigger than the current situation. What clearly changes is the configuration of the berths, from a compact distribution to one along the new canal and in the fair area.
The Fiera part would also suffer major changes. The area of the fair would be reduced to less than half and only the buildings that are considered more relevant would be kept, such as the one from architect Jean Nouvel. In this section of the plan the sport center Palasport would also be preserved, although its context would change due to the new presence of water that would allow the creation of roofed docks for small and medium sized embarkations. Also in this part of the plan is where we can find the new constructions. The program would be mainly focus on housing, tertiary and commerce related with the maritime world.
Regarding the project financing, the PA is expected to be responsible for financing the works related with the port activities, but the private investment would also be part of the equation. Although the general intervention is to be led by public institutions, the new construction would be developed by private investors. The agreement would probably require certain negotiation, but these sort of financing schemes is a typical approach to the urban regenerations projects, as we have seen in previous cases. It is also a characteristic of the current model of large urban interventions which contrasts with the first generation of waterfront plans in the Mediterranean sea, such as the Port Antico or the Barcelona case.
There are several key ideas behind the plan, besides the physical interventions, that must be kept in mind as Arch. Russo explained us. First of all the fact that the plan is a conceptual plan, therefore is not to be taken literally and certainly it requires a considerable amount of work to fully develop the concepts presented. At the same time, the main features of the plan allow its adaptation to the different possible solutions to existing problems near the concerned areas, such as the creation of a tunnel under the Porto Antico bay. This option has been discussed for several decades and never fully dismissed. In the municipality we were told that the current mayor considers this to be an option for the cross traffic. If we eventually see in the near future a tunnel, the Sopraelevata might change it use for example to an elevated public space. The Blueprint is thought in a way that allows different approaches without compromising the key decisions of the plan.
Another important point is the fact that the plan establishes several areas that should be discussed in further detail in new urban planning competitions. The decided boundaries are simply a suggestion from the project team and could be adapted to changing scenarios. The intention of Renzo Piano would be to allow young architects to bring new ideas for the waterfront and further develop the plan.
The Blueprint has caused a considerable discussion since its presentation to the public. Not all the concerned actors are in favor of the plan concepts. As mentioned before, there are several groups opposing its implementation, mainly the Yacht Club. This organizations disagrees with the idea of changing the distribution of the berths although their main building would remain in the same location. One of the main reason for this opposition is the fact that in their eyes is not so clear what happens when the nautical fair takes place, since they would need the berths next to main fair halls, an area they would use. For this reason, in the plan the project team carefully increased the linear meters of docks when compared with the existing ones. On the other hand the port community is very often reluctant to change, as we have seen in other cases. In this particular context the members of the yacht club are often persons with considerable connections and resources. At the same time the concession contract for the docks given to the club would end in December this year, therefore a negotiation was already necessary. At the present there is an intense discussion about the topic, hyped by the press. During the next year we should find out if the pressure groups against some of the plan ideas succeed and are able to force a change.
Finally there is another point we were able to discuss with SR, the name of the plan. Blueprint is the name given in architecture to the construction plan that are taken to the site to have the instructions and detail for the construction. In this case, the plan is exactly the opposite since is a concept for the waterfront, far from the execution phase. The name is related with the dominant color of the intervention, blue. Renzo Piano insisted in leaving the water with its color and abstracting the land and construction so the most important element would be enhanced. The key was to give a contact with the water to the city, and this was achieved with the new waterway. This main concept is even clearer in the simplified plans, without the satellite picture, therefore the simplification was crucial to better explain the concept and leave the essence of the project very clear, just like what happens with the sketches in the architecture projects.
The new port plan has been under development since 2010 and currently is in what we could consider the final stage near the approval, something that it should happen during the year 2016 or beginning of 2017. In the new plan there are several elements that are innovate and could bring significant improvements to the port-city relation. The concern about the interaction with the city has been one of the key elements on the making process and the main goal, as expressed in the plan, is to be able to create value for the territory.
We have seen in this post and the previous one that Genoa is placed in a territory with a complex topography, for this reason the expansion of the port has been decided to be inwards. The opposition to new landfills would be significant hence the only option was to improve the operation of the port within the existing territory, changing its morphology to receive the largest ships reaching 18,000 to 22,000 TEU. The plan is organized into two main components: the physical plan and the immaterial plan. Both are important and both have consequences for the city. In the case of the immaterial plan the main innovation is the improvement in the integration of control and custom system in order to have a more fluid traffic hence reducing its impact in the city. This is something we have also seen in other cases like Helsinki. In order to work it requires an effort not just from the PA, but also from all the other concerned authorities. The physical plan would be responsible for the changes in the port territory and for achieving the industrial, environmental and integration goals.In this plan is where we can find the new protection projects, a new system of breakwater that would allow the bigger ships a safe entry into the port.
The plan is organized in three different operational areas, the PO (Operational Port), the PP (Passengers Port) and the PU (Urban Port). For this article we will focus in the urban and passenger areas since are the one that will have a more direct interaction with the city. Regarding the operational port is important to understand that the interior growth would required still more land for the docks. This increase in the activity would partly be achieved by creating more space for the berths of ships in the San Pier d’Arena port section, land filing several basins like it has already been done in some areas. Another important change for the industrial port is the reduction of the oil harbour, as we have seen an idea already explored previously. The motivations are both environmental and economical, since the released area could be used by the shipyards Fincantieri. The system could be replaced by hoses therefore avoiding the birth of the oil tankers.
The operational fields aforementioned are very often intersecting with each other and with the city boundaries, the Passenger Port is the one that has a more clear physical translation. This last one is considered to form the transition areas in several points, such as the ferry terminals that allow more direct interaction between the citizens and the port. These points are also part of one of the strategies to improve the visual interaction, called the “grafts”, areas where there could a more direct physical and, mainly, visual relation. For the Passenger Port is also very important the parallel circulation, following the concepts that we already see in some of the ferry terminals or in Terrasses du Port in Marseille. In Genoa should be even easier to achieve since the topography allows the creation of two different heights, one in the harbor level and another in the street level. This increased interaction, that could be very positive for city’s perception of the port, is now jeopardized by the increase of the security measures which go in the opposite direction by separating the people from the restricted area as much as possible.
In the Urban Port we find several areas that will gather the majority of the interventions. In the west, the Voltri terminal will be transformed into an island by the creation of a new water channel, extending the Fascia di rispetto di Prà. This new waterway will include new public waterfront and it will work as a blue and green buffer between the city and the industrial area. Further east we might eventually see projects for the area of the oil harbor that could include a beach and public waterfront, although this is still an element to be discussed. Another important point will be the area around the Lanterna. The old lighthouse should be better connected with the city center since it is considered the city’s landmark and the current access is clearly deficient. In this waterfront section we will also presence major changes in the power plant that will be deactivated in 2017. There is an ongoing dialogue to decide the future function of it, but it could be a very interesting point in the waterfront regarding the geographical location and for the possibility of turning it into an element of industrial port heritage.
In the central section of the waterfront, the Porto Antico area, the existing functions will remain and the previously planned project should be executed. In this case, the Silo Hennebique and Ponte Parodi would be the main interventions. Since they are object of controversy we will explain them in further detail later on.
Finally, the eastern part of the port, the one concerned in Blueprint plan, is where we might see the bigger changes. The ideas developed by Renzo Piano were incorporated in the plan and the concept of developing a blue buffer is consider to match the strategies that were already thought. In this area, we shall also see in the near future another project from the same architect, replacing the previous one that in May 2013 was destroyed in an accident.
Of all the waterfront interventions, the one that has more clear options of being becoming a reality is the one in Voltri, since it could be included in the plan for the terminal. This is an important issue because the port is mainly allowed to invest in projects that have a direct impact in the port activities. The intervention in Voltri could be considered a compensation measure or part of the necessary buffer to industrial activities. The other ones are more complex since they will not probably depend from one single investor.
One of the most notable projects in the Genoese waterfront is the rehabilitation of the old silos. This building is placed in a prominent location, particularly when seen from the sea, entering the bay. What it used to be a warehouse for grain, kept functioning until the beginning of the 1990’s and it is a crucial element for the completion of the waterfront, from the Magazzini del cottone until the cruise terminal Ponte dei Mile. The building is in poor condition and any kind of intervention would require important sums for the investment. Its size, over 8,000 sqm, the demands from the port regarding the future functions to be hosted and the economic situation caused that the call for proposals from 2012 was declared deserted. During our interview PG explained us that in the coming year 2016 there will be a new call for proposals which will demand 30% of public functions. In the near future we shall see if these important element of industrial heritage is regenerated and included in the urban life.
The second project, also very relevant for the completion of the waterfront, is the future cruise terminal Ponte Parodi. In 2001 the Dutch office UNstudio, led by Ben van Berkel, won the international competition for the new terminal project. The building would continue with the concept of sharing the space between port and urban functions, besides the terminal it would include a mall and public areas. The problem is that since 2001 the project has been constantly delayed for many difference reasons. Currently there are several port activities taking place in this quay, for example it still hosts the tugboats. During the process there were also changes in the investment firms and discussion with the affected port industries who also opposed to the project. We understood that also the administrative process has not been so easy. This part of the waterfront was included in transformation district, a part of the port territory that would pass to the municipality. This process is still ongoing, but the municipality considers it finished. The agreement was that the PA would be in charge of the maritime works, for what we could see they are taking place. At the same time the demolishing of the existing warehouse that have no value is happening. We can still see the project in the website of the owner company, the French firm Altarea.
Piano Urbanistico Comunale
In the past, the port and urban development plans were published almost simultaneously, therefore the coordination between both was easier since they referred to the same time period and the discussion would be in the same terms. This time the municipal development plan, named the PUC (Piano Urbanistico Comunale), was finished before the one from the port. In this new document the port is mentioned and the coastal development have an important role. The importance of the harbour is acknowledged and there are several key interventions in the waterfront that are coordinated with the PA.
In the interview with the architects from the municipality, they explained us which project will be more important for the waterfront. In the west part of the city, the area along the Prà water channel will continue to be developed adding new green areas and sport and leisure facilities. Further on, an agreement has been found with shipyards. They will be allowed to extend to the oil harbour territory in Sestri once it changes its configuration, in exchange the shipyards will give back to the city the land they own placed on next to the railway. Also in Sestri there is another area that will be subject of discussion in the next years, the Piaggio industrial plot. The historic brand is currently going through a difficult period which could eventually lead to dismissing a part of their industries in Genoa. In this case, the location of this land could be an option for increasing the public access to the water, but during our meeting it was clarified that this decision is not taken. Nearby we can find a marina and public waterfront, but as we understood they are not planned to grow. In San Pier d’Arena we can find another significant project, the Lungomare Canepa. The goal in this case is to improve the existing road in the boundary with the port in order to handle more traffic and retreat cars and trucks from the inside of the neighborhood. The current road is not in the best condition and the barrier effect is inevitable. In this area the PA has also not planned any changes, therefore the idea of retreating traffic from the inner roads could make sense.
Finally, in the west part of the city, the Blueprint plan could show the path to the future. Since the problems handled in the plan, as we have seen, are not just port issues, the city should also be integrated in the solution. Since the document is very recent we should wait to see how evolves and how do the necessary agreements between the concerned authorities work out.
In the case of Genoa we can find a figure that has had considerable influence in the planning of the waterfront and the port over the last 25 years, the architect Renzo Piano. For this reason when spoke with the different stakeholders we had to ask how was this relation. In general terms they all agreed that this architect, and senator, has played a central role in the development of the city. Since the Porto Antico project his ideas have influenced the port and urban plans. Although nowadays his main office in is Paris, he keeps an emotional connection with the Ligurian capital that has taken him to donate several works, like the aforementioned Blueprint plan or the pilot’s tower project. In the municipality, we were told that his ideas do not always find the expected reaction, particularly regarding the follow up after the first concept. At the same time, his presence has became a political and economic assets, since his participation in projects and initiatives gives them credit and work as a facilitator for their conclusion. Sometimes though, the dialogue in the high political levels are not so well connected with the everyday reality. For example the port plan was an ongoing process since 2010 without the collaboration of Renzo Piano, only later the concepts in the Blueprint were brought and incorporated to the plan, with the initiative of the high political spheres as mentioned by PG. This was not so traumatic since the ideas were coherent with the ones in the plan and a dialogue process was rapidly established.
In general terms the work of Renzo Piano and his contribution for the city is much appreciated, also by the inhabitants who identify him as one of the most notorious Genoeses of last century and beginning of this one.At the end, if the majority of his ideas were to become a reality, we could observe a port-city with a more coherence vision making it more particular when compared with other cases.
Soft-values, cultural initiatives
The relation between the port and the city in Genoa has evolved significantly in the last years. In recent times we have seen several initiatives that allow the citizens to have a better understanding of the port. Particularly important is the Genoa Port Center, inaugurated in 2009, it functioned until September 2014. The port-center was born from a collaboration between the PA, the port community, the region and the university. It received initial funding from the EU and it implied a considerable preparation work in order to sum up something as complex as the port into a short exhibition reachable to children and youngsters of different age.
This facility was one of the founding members of the AIVP Port-Center network. During the years it has been open it has been a success, during the first three years it welcomed almost 20,000 students of different levels. PG recognized it was a very useful tool for the disclosure of the port activity and importance.
The center has been managed by the Muvita foundation, an organization from the region. Unfortunately the port-center has to close their doors due to changes in the management. From what we could understand, the idea was that it would be managed by the PA when the European program ended. When this happened, it closed and since it has remained like that. We tried to contact the person responsible from the organization but unfortunately got no answer. We expect it will reopen in the future since it has not been fully dismantled, although it has been already closed for over a year. The port-center issue will be studied in further detail as the research advances. It is relevant to say that the network has been expanding and in this year the Livorno port-center opened their doors in the historical context of the Fortezza Vecchia, the old fortress.
The PA has also engaged in several initiatives related with soft-values and communication with the citizens, such as the web TV and other cultural activities. These events, like the port-day, were more common when the port-center was fully functional, since they were also in charge of the cultural agenda, as we can see in the website.
In Genoa we can find other cultural facilities where the port’s role in the city is well explained. The Galata Museo del Mareis another example. This museum works both as sea and city museum. The link between the city and the maritime activities is very clear and a very complete exhibition, including actual size galley models, explain us how it has evolved. We can also find the naval museum of Pegli. As the name indicates is more focus in the maritime history and affairs.
In the case of Genoa we might also find often cultural initiatives related with the port. In the different museums there are exhibitions of photography or painting, also in spaces like Loggia dei Mercanti, there are usually activities that have a relation with the port, for example the industrial heritage or the commerce.
Besides the local initiatives, there have been other related with the port that are focus on enhancing the cultural importance of this infrastructure. Particularly interesting is the international film festival “Zones Portuaires“, an initiative born in Marseille five years ago, therefore also very relevant for that city, was hosted in Genoa in last September with a program full of events related with the seaport culture, mainly focused in this city.
The territorial constraints present in the case of Genoa force a more intense relation between the city and the port. The fact that the boundary between both territories is so complex has brought even more attention to the problem. As we have seen, the discussion of the waterfront and the physical and visual access to the water has produced interesting publications and plans from renowned architects and planners. Unfortunately, all this intellectual effort has not been translated into equivalent physical changes. Some of these plans were too ambitious and in other cases the economic and/or political context did not allowed their further development. The fact that since 1992 we have not seen major changes in the waterfront, except the ones in 2001 and 2004 in a smaller scale, might have affected the credibility of the new plans. As we saw there are important projects waiting to happen, but they carry a delay of almost 15 years in some cases.
In this case the dialogue and cooperation is higher than in other studied cases, particularly if we consider that the institutions depends from different bodies in different levels, local and national. The initiatives like the Genova Urban Lab or the Agency for the Port Plan reveal a predisposition towards the dialogue, although the steps after the plan have not always been fully achieved. For other port-cities is a good example of joint project. We already saw in Rotterdam the positive synergies that can be created with this sort of initiatives, Genoa shows another path that might be better adapted for the southern European countries, where the central government has a strong influence over the PA.
The new port plan has also several concepts that might be interesting for other cases where physical boundaries constitute constrains for the port activity. It is an intelligent approach for the port growth, instead of physically expand the port territory to try to reach the maximum capacity by improving the efficiency of the existing infrastructure. In other port-cities with territorial limitations is a good option instead of demanding more land to the urban area next to the port. Another approach is the expansion in Brownfields that also has less impact than blue or green port expansion. We could see this sort of plan in Lisbon, since the port will expand to the south side of the river in an existing brownfield. This leads us to another important issue, the intervention in the active port to improve the relation with the city. In the case of Genoa we see that, due to territorial limitations, we will probably not see large waterfront interventions in dismissed port areas, instead the strategy will focus in specific points with smaller projects in the boundary between the active port and the city. The concept of the blue buffer is an example of this sort of project. In the eastern part of the city the ideas presented in the Blueprint plan could also be a significant improvement for both the city and the port. This sort of “urban acupuncture”, a set of specific small scale actions that lead to an improved relation, might be the model for the future in opposition to the previous large scale operation.
Regarding the social initiatives of the PA, Genoa was for some years a real reference in the field. Their Port-Center very often worked as a role model for the new ones in other ports. The impact this kind of initiatives is not to be seen immediately but more in the long term. In order to get the SLTO (Social License to Operate), the PA must develop an agenda of events and take profit of the existing structure. It is understandable that in the central government the soft-values of seaports might be more difficult to conceive as something important, but in the end is one of the main ways for the port to be accepted by the inhabitants of the city on their back. We can only expect that this situation will change and that the port-center will reopen its doors. The problem of social integration of ports will be studied in further detail in the next stage of the research. Hopefully, we will be able to get to know other cases and the role the AIVP has played in the development of this kind of initiatives.
In conclusion Genoa is one of the cases where the relation between city and port is more intense, however they have been able to keep relatively positive interaction. The strategies here presented could be adapted to other cases. The alternative of small actions against the policy of white elephants is an intelligent approach, particularly in crisis or post-crisis scenarios, like the one we find ourselves in. It is time to try alternatives to the business as usual model, and learn how we can act in the active harbor and still improve the relation of the city with the port and the water.
The city of Genoa is the capital of the Liguria region, in the north-west of Italy. Is part of the most industrial area of the country, historically formed by the triangle between Milan, Turin and itself. It has a population of almost 600 000 inhabitants in the city limits and of over 1,5 million in the metropolitan area. The region has the typical north Mediterranean topography, with mountains with peaks form 600 to 1000 meters high near or directly by the coast. This context has been at the same time an advantage and a problem for the urban settlements and ports. The coastline creates natural ports and the deep water allows easy access for the modern ships, but at the same time the fact that the terrain is so complex complicates the creation of large flat surfaces for major infrastructure such as ports and airports.
The origin of the city goes back to the pre-romans time. The existing settlement in the “Castello” hill had the conditions to work as an Emporium for commerce in the route to Marseille. As it happens with many other Mediterranean cities is possible that the Greeks arrived and related with the locals Ligurians to give birth to the new city. During the roman times the town was not a very important center of power and was able to keep a certain independence. After the fall of the Roman Empire we could see how the city continues to grow and benefits from the development of the Lombard hinterland. Only in the XIth century would the city become a proper commune.
During the Middle Ages, Genoa would become one of the main maritime republics in the Mediterranean region. In this period it would play an important role in the crusades on both ends of the sea, the Middle East and the Iberian Pensinsula, its galley fleet would gain fame for its capacities in the sea battles. In the XVIth Century the city would create, after a period of French control, a long standing relation with the Spanish kingdom. This political change was defended by one of the main figures of its history, Andrea Doria. This alliance was not just a political move, but mainly an economic strategy. The local bankers would be the ones who most benefit from this move, by lending money to Spain and receiving later a considerable amount of the gold coming from South America. The new association would mean a change in its development model, more focus in financing foreign states than in the maritime traffic and commerce.
Later on, during the XVIIth century, the city would suffer a severe epidemic of the plague, second time in its history after the XIVth Century. In terms of politics it would be affected by the Spanish crisis and would end the century again under French domination from the King Louis XIV. In order to control Genoa, would attack it from the sea in 1684, what it would be the first naval bombing of a city in history. During this century we could see the creation of the free port and the new dike in order to improve its commercial conditions. In the next century it would definitely lose its overseas territories, like Corsica to France in the treaty of Versailles. It would be later controlled by the Austria and again would rebel against the foreign invader.
Only during the industrial revolution would Genoa recover its glory days as an important economic, logistic and industrial center. It would see the creation of several big companies mainly related with steel plants. During the WWII the city suffered severe punishment due to its seaport conditions. The focus of the bombings was the port infrastructure, although also the urban tissue suffered considerable destruction. After the war it was an important core for the “Italian economic miracle” and formed, alongside with Milan and Turin, the industrial triangle of the north of Italy. During the second half of the XXtth century the city suffered several crisis that reduced its industry and limited the port as a logistic center with less associated industry than before.
Along its history the city has been involved in many conflicts, whether with the neighbors, like Pisa or Savona, or with sea rivals like Venice. Also, inside the city itself, we would see little peace. It has suffered constant tension from the first Commune years to the G8 summit in 2001, including civil wars, resistance to foreign domination or class struggle.
The port of Genoa
The port of Genoa is one of the biggest in the Mediterranean Sea. In the Euromed region we find several harbours that compete against each other for similar markets and hinterlands. Marseille, which we saw in the previous post, could be considered the main rival of Genoa for the port activity. Both harbours have large container terminals, important shipyards and are cruise destination. In this last sector, very important in the region, we also find Barcelona or other Ligurian ports like Savona.
There are several similarities to the case of Marseille in terms of the physical evolution of the port. As we have seen, the origin of the port was near the historical city center. During the industrial revolution and motivated by the growth of the factories in the region the port needed to be expanded, starting a similar process to the previous analyzed case. From the original location the growth evolved towards the territory with the most favorable conditions, the west, where before the port expansion we could see beaches that the locals would usufruct. The first expansion took place near La Lanterna, the historical light house from the XIIth century. Gradually it took more territory, including the coast of San Pier d´Arena.
The case of Genoa has the particularity of including the airport inside the port perimeter. The presence of this infrastructure is a considerable limitation for the port activities next to it. The last expansion phase of the port took place in the area of Voltri, in the 1980´s, with one the main container terminals. The majority of the port territories are landfills since, as said before, the availability of flat land is very limited. To the east side of Porto Antico we also find port areas, but of smaller scale when compared to the other direction. In this territories we can mainly find repairing shipyards and marinas with the historical Yacht club.
In the year 2014 the port of Genoa registered record figures. In total it had a general throughput of 52 mill tons. From these figure approx. 30 mill was general cargo, including 21,5 mill in container traffic. In Genoa the oil sector is also relevant: in 2014 it was around 16 mill tons. In the same year it counted almost 2,2 mill TEU, with an increment of 9,3% to the previous year. Besides cargo, the passenger traffic is also an important sector in this port. Ferries and cruise combined moved over 2,7 mill persons, 1,9 mill and 800 000 respectively. This numbers, although impressive when compared with other ports, might be a matter of concern for the port, since the cruise traffic went down 21,5% when compared to the previous year. This drop might probably be related with the fact that Costa Crociere, one of the main actors in the sector, decided in 2014 to change Genoa for Savona. This issue is more concerning to the city than the port itself since, as it is well known, the port does not get so much revenue from the cruise traffic.
In terms of employment the port is still a significant entity in the city. We could only find data from some years ago, 2010 and 2011. Since the traffic has not changed significantly during these years we can assume they probably still are near the real current figures. The direct employment in the port is estimated in 4700 jobs, and indirect of 26 300, including activities very related with the port such as the shipyards. In total we account 31 000 jobs without considering the induced employment, activities not related with the port but that benefit from the port activities and jobs.
An interesting point of the port development is the new port plan (PRP) currently in approval phase. The main characteristic of this new document, in terms of port territory, if the fact that no expansion outside the current boundaries is planned and the expected growth will take place within the existing area, mainly by improving the efficiency of the existing land and new landfills in several quays, mainly the ones placed in San Pier d´Arena. This plan and the consequences for the relation with the city will be analyzed in the next post.
The first important interventions in the Genoese waterfront took place for the 1992 World Exhibition, celebrating the 500 years of the discovery of America by Columbus (allegedly Genovese, but its nationality is always a subject of controversy). The plan for the waterfront regeneration was made by Genoa´s most famous contemporary architect, Renzo Piano.
The project was developed in the “Porto Antico” (old port) area, a territory the port could no longer use, including old warehouses and cranes that later would become elements of industrial heritage. The project could be considered a success since it gave to the city a much needed public space and access to the water. In terms of program the focus of the project as putted in services and leisure activities. A new congress center was created in the magazzini del cottone, with several spaces for cultural activities, including a museum and a library. Another one of the main elements of the project was the new aquarium, the biggest one in Italy and an important tourist attraction. This new building, developed by the water was also a project from Renzo Piano, along with the congress center and other buildings. In the water plane a new marina was developed, where nowadays we might find some of the most luxurious yachts. For the management of these new spaces a new semi-private society was created named Porto Antico. In this new body the port, the city and private investors are present.
Later on, in 2000´s, we could see more projects focused on improving the area and expanding the public space in the waterfront. These new development were related with the so called, big events policy. Two main venues took place in Genoa within a short distance in time: in 2001 the G8 meeting took place in the city and in 2004 the city was the European capital of culture. In the waterfront the public area was expanded towards the west, the Galata sea museum was built, and also new hotel and housing by the sea. In the city center we also saw several improvement, particularly the rehabilitation of several “palazzi”. In 2006 some areas of the city center were considered world heritage by the UNESCO.
During the last 15 years we have also seen some unrealized ambitions that could have improved even more the existing waterfront. Two main projects stand out, the new Ponte Parodi cruise terminal and the Silo Hennebique. The first one should have been a key infrastructure for both, the city and the port. It was a very ambitious project by the Dutch office UNstudio led Ben Van Berkel. It included the creation of a new mall and elevated public spaces, besides the cruise terminal program. The second mentioned project is the rehabilitation of an industrial building of considerable proportions. One of the challenge of this building was to find the appropriate functions for it. For a long period it was discussed if it should host several public offices. Since the project has not been developed the building remains abandoned.
Renzo Piano has played an important role in the relation between the port and the city for the last 25 years. His ascendant over the issue is a particularity of this case. In no other port-city has one single architect played such an important role. Besides the Porto Antico development and other relevant architectural projects, his office has also produced several plans for the urban waterfront, including the active port, not just the dismissed areas. The plans have been named “the Affresco”, designed in 2004, and more recently the “Blueprint”. In both we find ideas that have inspired the future port plan. His figure and impact will be analyzed in further detail in the next post as also both mentioned plans.