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

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

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

Socio-political context

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

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

Port evolution during the 1970s and 1980s

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many planning initiatives with different results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandão (3: 1988)

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

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


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


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

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

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

First major plans – 1990s

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

Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PA role

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

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

Comparison with other plans

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

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

POZOR and Port Plans

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

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

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


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

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

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

Strategic Plan 1992

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

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


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

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

General Plan of the Intervention Units and the programs. Retrieved from http://www.fat.pt

Social contestation

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

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

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

POZOR in the newspapers


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

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

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

POZOR Results

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

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

Personal Comment on the POZOR Process – Institutional Framework

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PDM and Municipal Strategic Plan 

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

Strategic plan

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

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

PEL 1992
PEL 1992. Retrieved from Neves, 2013 (https://pt.slideshare.net/tutufischer/seminrio-internacional-sampa-cri-ativa-3-1213-apresentacaobrancaneves)

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

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

PDM 1994

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Planta Puzro
PUZRO Plan The doted line indicates the boundary of the planning area. Retrieved from. http://www.cm-lisboa.pt

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

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

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

Braço de Prata plan. In the image we also see the Matinha plan. Retrieved from: http://www.cpu.pt

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morgado, S. (2005). Protagonismo de la ausencia. Interpretación urbanística de la formación metropolitana de Lisboa desde lo desocupado. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona. Retrieved from http://www.tdx.cat/handle/10803/6959

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

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

Olivier, D., & Slack, B. (2006). Rethinking the Port. Environment and Planning A, 38(8), 1409–1427. http://doi.org/10.1068/a37421.

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Documents:

Decreto Lei 207/93 14 de Junho

Decreto Lei 100/2008

Decreto Lei 336/98 3 de Novembro

Projeto de Lei 85/VII presentado in 1996

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[7]Parque Expo was a QUANGO (Quasi autonomous Non-Government Organization). This sort of publicly owned development companies has been a common vehicle for urban development operations. We can see them in Hamburg, Oslo, Helsinki, and other port-cities. In the case of Lisbon, it continued to operate after the Expo, being responsible for urban management and facilities in the Parque das Nações. The company developed more projects, not just in Portugal. During the early 2000s it developed several riverfront green areas in different Portuguese cities integrated in the POLIS program. Parque Expo was deactivated on December 31st 2016, although its fate had already been decided in 2011 (http://expresso.sapo.pt/economia/2016-12-30-Parque-Expo-extinta-a-31-de-dezembro, consulted on 4/6/2017 11:50).

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

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

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

[11]Castro and Lucas (1999) originally indicate 14 million contos, equivalent to 65 mill € approx. According to the National Statistical Institute of Portugal (INE) 65 mill€ adjusted to 2016, after the inflation would be ca. 105,8 million € (https://www.ine.pt/xportal/xmain?xpid=INE&xpgid=ipc).

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

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

[14] There was a law project presented by deputies of the PCP, to reduce the powers of the APL. The project was: Projeto de Lei 85/VII presented in 1996 and finally dismissed. (https://www.parlamento.pt/ActividadeParlamentar/Paginas/DetalheIniciativa.aspx?BID=5581)

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

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

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

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

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

Initiatives focused on the Port-City relation

Initiatives focused on the Port-City relation

We have identified several interesting initiatives related with the port-city relation topic that have taken place during the last couple of months or that will happen in the next few weeks. In this post we will comment some of them that could be useful for the researchers interested in this issue.

ZONES PORTUAIRES – rencontres internationales cinéma et villes portuaires

The film festival Zones Portuaires is organized by the association Cales obscures and takes place in Saint-Nazaire, France. Last year was the edition 0. The event is associated with other Zones Portuaires film festivals, like the ones from Marseille and Genoa .

The main focus of the event is the interesting relation existing between port territories and the cinema. The cultural value of ports has been explored by different authors, but this is one of the very few festivals that over several days is able to explore in its full complexity this connection.

In the official website we can find some key questions they try to answer:

Comment, pourquoi, les villes portuaires nourrissent-elles le cinéma et son imaginaire ? Comment les cinéastes du monde nous les représentent-elles ? Qu’apprenons-nous alors des évolutions sociales, économiques, humaines, urbanistiques de ces villes ?

“How and why port cities inspire cinema and imagination? How the world’s filmmakers represent them? What do we learn from the social, economic, human and urban planning evolution of these cities?”

In this year’s edition the main theme is the migrations, a hot-topic in the European context. The ports are very often the stage for this human drama particularly in the Mediterranean region. The invited city is Athens, probably the European capital that has struggled the most since the beginning of the financial and refugees crisis.


Port Festivals

During springtime and until mid autumn several port days and festivals will take place. The port visits have been acknowledged as one of the most appealing initiatives for the public to get to know better the port. The port festivals are mainly focused in opening up the port in a family friendly atmosphere and to show the “nicer face” of the port community. These events allow a more relaxed interaction with the port territories.

It is important to remark that some port days are, in the opinion of the author, too much leaning on the festivity side, in several cases insisting in the clichés related to the port image and the maritime world. However there are others that really use these days to explain the port functioning and to give on site presentations by port professionals


In Hamburg the 827th edition of the Hafengeburtstag took place between the days 5th to 8th of May. According to some media this year registered a record of visitors, totaling 1,6 million people along the four days of the festival. The event has become an important date in the cultural agenda of the city and, although often the folklore distorts the image of the port, it does enhances the role of the harbor in the general image of the city.

For this year’s event we can even find specific apps to take the maximum profit of the festival.

827th Hafengeburtstag. Image retrieved from: http://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/hamburg/Hafengeburtstag-startet-mit-Besucherrekord,hafengeburtstag1074.html

La Rochelle

In another scale we can find other port festivals that improve as well the connection of the inhabitants with the port. Is the case of La Rochelle in France and Brussels in Belgium.

The port of La Rochelle hosted an open-day event where everybody could visit the harbor and get to know the different port activities that take place there. This edition, the 6th one, took place on June the 12th, and included different activities, such as port visit by boat and bus, visits to the terminals and silos, the control tower and several ships. The program included also visits to the shipyards, a parade and exhibitions.

The slogan chosen for the port day reveals an interesting approach to this sort of festivals: “Le port par les professionnels” – The port by the professionals. If the port is able to implicate the port community to explain their work it will gain a human face, far from the hard concrete of the silos or steel from the containers. This strategy has been defended by other authors in the field of the social integration of ports, and in the long-term can ease the path towards achieving the necessary Social License to Operate.

More information can be found here




The Belgian capital is often not identified as a port-city. Nevertheless their fluvial port has an important role in the region’s economy. In may they hosted the 14th edition of the “Fête du Port” – the port festivity. In this case the approach is closer to the one seen in other major port-cities like Hamburg or Rotterdam. From what we can see in the official website, the program included many recreational activities for all audiences, several connected with water or maritime sports. The interaction with the port activity seems to have been focused in the physical context of the event, the port area, and in the information available in the kiosks.

Fête du Port in Brussels. Foto by: Elio Germani Retrieved from: http://www.lacapitale.be/1572635/article/2016-05-15/succes-pour-la-14e-edition-de-la-fete-du-port-de-bruxelles-photos


The inclusion of pedagogic visits is, in the author’s opinion, a better approach than just focusing on the recreational side of the event. The Soft-Values of seaports that have been mentioned in this blog in different posts cannot be explored in the shallowest layer but it is important that include a deeper approach, explaining some of the technic, technology and complexity of the port, always in an adapted way.

Port Debate

Dibatito in Porto – Livorno

For the approval of port plans or major infrastructure is mandatory in many European countries to host a public hearing with the local citizens. In the Italian city of Livorno the port authority has taken the opportunity to celebrate a true debate around two projects and give more disclosure to the new Port Center. The main issues are the “piattaforma Europa“, a new platform for logistic activities that will required new and fills, and  the project for the maritime station, an intervention that will imply changes in the border between the city and the port.

The debate is being developed since mid April and should continue until mid June. The program includes different sessions and thematic workshops with the citizens in the ancient fortress, currently managed by the port authority and where the Port Center is located.

The ancient fortress. Image retrieved from: http://www.livornoportcenter.it/galleria-fotografica/

Workshops and Congresses

3rd Port Center Network Meeting of AIVP, Antwerp, Belgium

In the end of April the 3rd Meeting of the AIVP’s Port Center Network took place. During this event it was possible to discuss the different strategies for the social integration of ports. The main focus was the evolution of the Port Center concept and the new examples that have been developed in the last year. The issue of education and the edutainment was also a hot topic, with inputs from specialist from different fields.

The meeting took place in the Port Center of Antwerp, the oldest infrastructure of this kind. During the event we could see different approaches and get to know the ambitious plans for the hosting Port Center. It was also interesting to observe the increasing interest this “tool” is creating. Different port cities from Europe and North America have plans to develop their own Port Center to improve the interaction with the local inhabitants.

The AIVP days. Mega-ships: impacts on port cities

The issue of the Mega-ships will be the main discussion topic in the AIVP days, an event that will take place in Málaga, Spain, in the end of June. In this meeting different international experts will present different cases of port-cities and explain how they are preparing for the advent of these new ships.

The Key-Note speaker will be Olaf Merk, a renowned expert in the field of the relations between ports and cities, particularly in the economic issues. He was the coordinator of the OECD port-cities program and recently started a blog about the shipping world that we will see in this same post.

The main questions to be addressed are:

  • Can those new ambitions support, or even merely cope with these new maritime strategies?
  • Should not public interest considerations for sustainable development in port cities take priority over profitability for shipping?
  • How can the different interests be reconciled?
  • How far should ports go to accommodate exponential growth in goods volumes or passenger numbers, without compromising mobility between the city and port or within the wider port region?
  • How can increasingly significant flows be redistributed across countries or continents?
  • What can be done to ensure that the added value generated benefits the territories concerned?

Crossovers entre ciudades y puertos. Oportunidades y perspectivas para Almería

In July also in Spain, this time in Almeria a summer course with national and international experts will be hosted in the University of Almeria. This event, entitled “Crossovers entre ciudades y puertos. Oportunidades y perspectivas para Almería“,  will allow a discussion of best practices for the improvement of the port-city relation.

During this event local experts will present the challenges this port-city is facing. Other professionals from different Andalusian and Spanish institutions will explain existing examples in the regional and national levels. Researchers with an international background, including myself, will present other approaches that can be found in European port-cities and the existing good practices. One of the presentations will be focused in the guide of good practices developed by the AIVP that recently reached 15 000 downloads.

Blogs and websites

In this field of research, the relation between ports and cities, there are different approaches, coming from diverse disciplines. We can find many online resources that have different point of views but help to form a more complete picture of the existing situation. The resources that are been found along the research process are gathered in the side bar of the blog. In this section of the port are some new websites or blogs, but also several existing ones that have gotten our attention and that could be of interest for other researchers.

Shipping Today – Olaf Merk

Early before we have mentioned the name of Olaf Merk, as one of the most renowned experts in the field. In late march he started a new blog named shipping today. In this blog the main topic, as the name itself states, is the shipping world. He offers a critical analysis of the way this sector works. Although the main topic is more related with economics, economic geography, politics and commerce, the side effects of the decisions and researches made in these fields will have a repercussion in the cities and the way ports interact with them. In his initial post the Merk raised several questions that he will try to answer in his new blog.

“Do we always need more trade and more shipping; is shipping not actually too cheap, because all kinds of external effects are not taken into account? Is it logical to promote shipping as a clean transport mode when its exhaust gases are thousand times more toxic than of cars? Why subsidise a sector that only seems to be shredding jobs rather than creating them? Is it normal that ports crawl to every whim of shipping lines, but remain insensitive to local firms, population and the public interest? Does it make sense to throw public money at ports without coordination and then be surprised that some of them are empty?”

Retrieved from: http://shippingtoday.eu/a-new-shipping-blog-out-of-unease/ 



An interesting initiative for researchers studying urban patterns. This website, still in an alpha stage, eases the search of the patterns in a specific context. The automated  research can save considerable time and give immediately a general overlook of the city or region, saying where we can find the specific type of pattern. this tool is also useful for the graphic part of the work presentations and publications.

An example of the search: Container terminals in NYC



World Seastems

On April 2016 took place the second workshop of the World Seastems  research project. This initiative, fully financed by the European Research Council, aims ” to map and to analyze the changing spatial pattern of the world economy across 300 years from a maritime perspective”, as they mention in their website. The project, led by the renowned french geographer César Ducruet, has three main goals:

  1. Mapping and analysis of the maritime flows during the period aforementioned. The developed visualization of these flows will ease the analysis for other scientific uses
  2. Look at the role inter-ports networks have played in the structuring of the territory and the changes that have occurred on it. Particularly important will the interaction with other networks in different levels.
  3. As conclusion, and for the ongoing personal  research probably the most interesting goal, the relation between the urban and maritime growth flows will compared and possibly establish development patterns comparing the effect of the port in the urban development of port and non-port cities.

The complexity of the research under development is clear and difficult to explain in few lines. There are already preliminary results and in their website we can find interesting resources for the study of the port-city relationship topic. The research group also shares occasionally images from their investigation in their facebook page.

The project started in 2013 and is planed to run until 2018.

Regionalization of world maritime flows in 2004. Retrieved from: http://www.world-seastems.cnrs.fr/index.php?page=page_ERC_WS_24


The maritime world is one of the most used cases for innovative data visualization techniques. Another example of this trend in the website shipmaps.org. This project is a collaboration between Kiln studio and the  UCL Energy Institute. In this map we can see the world ship traffic in year 2012. The website not only shows the general traffic, but includes as well information regarding the CO2 tonnes or the maximum freight.



Maritiem digitaal

Finally, for historical researches, a useful online platform, the digital database of the Benelux for maritime objects and literature. This website is particularly important if we consider that Belgium and the Netherlands have been historically some of the most active countries in the maritime world and overseas commerce.





Reuse and musealization of port related heritage in Lisbon

Reuse and musealization of port related heritage in Lisbon

Lisbon: a Mediterranean city

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

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

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

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

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

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


The break up between City and Port

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new access to the river

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

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

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

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

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

pg_intervencao copy
General Plan of Interventions in the waterfront of Lisbon. Source: http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/

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

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

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

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



Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square)

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

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

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

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

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

Ribeira das Naus

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Cordoaria Nacional

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

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

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

Figure 6
Cordoria Nacional. Author: Lola Sánchez Pérez.

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

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

Central Tejo

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

Figure 7
Central Tejo. Author: Lola Sánchez Pérez.

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

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

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

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

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

Pedro Álvares Cabral Building

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Talking about Port Centers

Talking about Port Centers

Since the last post there has been no time to write about the ongoing research… until now. Over the last month the main topic in the investigation has been the social integration on ports and how affects the relation between cities and ports.

During this time we have been collaborating with the AIVP or the development of a guide of good practices focused in the Port Centers. In this post we will explain this concept and how it has evolved since the creation in the 1980’s. The text here presented is partly shared with a contribution for the next AIVP World Congress, that will take place next October.

Next AIVP Congress will take place in Rotterdam and it will be focused in the crossovers between cities and ports

The Social License to Operate

During the ongoing research we have come to notice that, in order to have a peaceful coexistence between ports and cities, the concept of Social License to Operate (SLO) is of great importance. As explained by other authors like Dooms or Boutilier and Thomson, the SLO is, in its broader concept, fulfilling the expectations of stakeholder and local communities in dimensions that go beyond the creation of wealth. In other words: the SLO is the social acceptance of port activities by local communities. This issue has started to gain attention from researchers and practitioners, particularly related with the relation between ports and cities. In several studies published in recent years the importance of the SLO has been enhanced, like for example the Port-City program from the OECD led by Merk.

The relation between ports and politics is clear. In case the port activities are not approved by the citizens, it could later transform into a lack of political support to the port and finally condition the expansion of the harbor or the increase in the port activity. In this situation seems important that the port is able to have a positive relation with the local society and overcame the isolation in which remained in the past.

Soft Values of Seaports

To reach this goal ports count with an asset that most industries do not have, the soft values. This concept, defined by Van Hooydonk as “the non-socioeconomic values which include among others historical, sociological, artistic and cultural sub-functions that form the soft-function of seaports”, gives to the ports an additional advantage. They are not just industrial areas on the waterfront, but, in the majority of cases, the main identity element of the city. The port is an element of great cultural values that should be appropriated by the citizens.

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

The Port Center Concept

Over the last two decades one of the instruments that has proven more efficient for the explanation of the port and the disclosure of the soft values has been the Port Center. This sort of initiative is focused on explaining the port to the inhabitants, particularly the younger generations, and to change their vision of the port as something of their own and important for the future of the city as explained by Marini, Ghiara and Dooms in an article in 2014. Two different generations of Port Centers can be identified since the late 1980´s when the first one was created.

Port Center Schema.jpg
Port Center Concept: The founding partners (Port and public authorities, as well as some private partners) form the Port Center that through a series of initiatives (exhibitions, tours, events, etc) and collaborating with different stakeholders (companies, universities, cultural institutions, etc) will have a positive impact in the social integration of the port in several dimensions.                                                                                                                                                  Author: José Sánchez, based on a previous model from Greta Marini


First Generation

The first generation is formed by two centers in two of the main European ports, Antwerp and Rotterdam. The first one, created in the Belgian port in 1988, had a central location inside the port territory. The Lillo Center, founded by the province, has achieved great success receiving 50000 visitors per year. The second one, named EIC, was created in Rotterdam in 1994, it is also centrally located in the port area and hosts 22000 visitors per year. The target audience of both centers is the youngsters, which have been developing a certain detachment towards the port and no longer consider it an attractive place to develop a professional career. This issue might later have serious consequences since in some cases a shortage of qualified professionals could be detected. The access to these centers was reserved to the school groups in visits previously scheduled, including the payment of an entrance fee.

Images from the Lillo Port Center. Source: http://www.aivp.org
Images from the Lillo Port Center. Source: http://www.aivp.org

The port authority was only present in the Rotterdam project although it was not the leading partner, a role taken by Deltalinqs, an organization of the private companies operating in the port.

From this first generation we can see that the location can have an important impact in the visibility of the port center. Although it might be convenient to be placed inside the port territory it might also hinder the impact or the possibility of opening to a broader audience. In these projects was also clear that the port visits, either by boat or bus, are one of the most attractive activities for the visitors and is the best way to explain the complexity and scale of the port. Finally they both were pioneers regarding the use of the infotainment concept applied to the port.

Second Generation

In the early 2000`s we can identify a second generation of port. The renaissance of the concept and its broader application could result from two factors, the success of the first generation and, mainly, the acknowledgement by the ports of the necessity of explaining themselves to the citizens, going beyond an agenda of single events. They need a physical location in which they have a constant disclosure of the port value. In cities like Genoa, Ashdod, Le Havre, Livorno, Vancouver, Melbourne or Rotterdam, we can identify new centers or similar structures that fulfill the goal defended by the first generation, with several innovations.

The time gap has allowed the development of new technologies improving the edutainment, allowing greater interactivity and making them more appealing to the younger generations. The core target group remains the same: the youngsters. However, in some cases, the general public is also allowed to visit the Port Center on their own initiative, therefore reaching a broader audience.

Regarding the location it seems clear that opening up to the general public requires a better accessibility. Several centers of the second generation are placed near the urban center, in the limit between the port and city, in some cases in buildings with a historical value, increasing their visibility and the interest of the inhabitants.

We can also find changes in the partners structure. In several centers the Port Authorities have a leading role or are the single developers of the initiative. However we also find projects in which a greater number of partners have cooperated for the development of the center, including public entities like the municipality or the region, but also private companies or the chamber of commerce.

The financing model has also evolved. The entrance fee has in most cases been reduced or even disappear. The main financing sources  still are the founding partners but we can also find initiatives, like the FutureLand in Rotterdam, that have developed secondary resources, such as the cafeteria or the bookshop.

rotterdam post 3
FutureLand, Maasvlakte 2.  Author: José M P Sánchez

Simultaneously to the second generation, the Port Center Network inside the AIVP was created. This initiative links the different centers and shares the good practices. At the same time it gives information  to new projects, that can count on the existing expertise.

Future Challenges

We have seen the evolution of the concept and how it is being increasingly used by port cities around the world, however several challenges arise. One of the main issues is the financing of future projects. Although  there is growing awareness of the importance of the social integration of ports, the Port Centers have proven fragile regarding their financing schemes; hence the diversification of the economic sources is necessary in order to increase the resiliency of the new initiatives. There are lessons to be learned from other cultural venues that could be applied to the centers.

The integration of these structures with the existing Soft-Values agenda can also be improved. In some cases we have seen that the Port Center has not been as active as it could in the social activities related to the port. One of the main goals of this sort of initiative is to work as a central element for the Soft-Values agenda; therefore they should also play greater roles than what they have done so far.

Finally it seems important to highlight the issue of linking with other existing organizations and networks that could increase the divulgation of the port-center, for example with the tourism offices. There is a growing trend of industrial tourism that could be an opportunity for increasing the disclosure of the Port Center beyond the local network and gain support of the port in a regional or national basis.

The Port Centers have contributed to improve the communication between the city and the port and allowed a better understanding. In the future they should go even further, developing the port identity present in all the port cities around the globe and allowing the emotional appropriation of the port by the citizens.

Port-City governance. A comparative analysis in the European context.

Port-City governance. A comparative analysis in the European context.

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.

1. Introduction

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.

Stages in the evolution of port-city interrelationships according to Hoyle’s model (2000)

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 [1]. 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[2]. 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[3] 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 [4] 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[5] .

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

3.1.1. Helsinki

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[6] and also a considerable figure of ro-ro cargo[7], approx. 25% of the general throughput (Merk et al. 2012).

© Adactive Ltd
Helsinki West Harbor Waterfront development (source: http://www.hel.fi)

3.1.2 Oslo

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.

3.1.3 Rotterdam

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.

3.1.4 Marseille

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.

3.1.5 Genoa

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[8]. 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.

Genoa Blue print. In the image we see the water channel following the line of the old city walls. (Source: Official document of the project)

3.1.6 Lisbon

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

tabla Shubert-7 copy copy
Dimensions of waterfront (re-)development for comparative perspectives, adapted from Schubert (2011). In the case of Lisbon there is no current major waterfront regeneration project.

3.2 Conclusions of the physical relation analysis

3.2.1 Contracts

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[9]. 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.

3.2.2 Agencies

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.

Plan of the Euroméditerranée project. In the lower section we see the part handled by the PA to the city for the development of the Mucem and Villa Méditerranée. The PA also agreed in shrinking their urban border in order to allow the creation of the Boulevard du Littoral. Source: Euroméditerranée presentation

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.

4.1 Education

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[10], 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.

4.2 Communication

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[11]. 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.

4.3 Heritage

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.

Real Estate development in Katendrech. In the future the relation with the industrial heritage might be tighter than what it is today, passing the musealization and integrating it in every day uses (Source: http://www.fenixlofts.nl/)

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[12], 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.

[1] 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.

[2] Law n2008-660 4th of July 2008

[3] Law DL 100/2008 of June 16 2008.

[4] 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.

[5] Source https://www.publico.pt/economia/noticia/governo-pede-avaliacoes-ambientais-para-avancar-com-novo-porto-no-barreiro-1670498

[6] Source: Port of Helsinki, http://www.portofhelsinki.fi/port_of_helsinki/port_statistics

[7] 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.

[8] Source: Official project document and website: http://www.comune.genova.it/content/il-blueprint-10-punti

[9] 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.

[10] 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.

[11] Both PAs have channels in the online platform YouTube

[12] Sustainability report from the year 2007, available in: http://www.portodelisboa.pt/portal/page/portal/PORTAL_PORTO_LISBOA/AUTORIDADE_PORTUARIA/RELATORIOS_PUBLICACOES

Conference Presentation


AESOP YA – Jose Sanchez – final2


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Hoyle, B.S (2011) Tomorrow’s World? Divergence and Reconvergence at the Port-City Interface. In Alemany,J & Bruttomesso,R. (eds) The Port City of the XXIst Century, New Challenges in the Relationship between Port and City. RETE, 32-47.

Ircha M C. (2013) Social License for Canadian Port, PORTUS: the online magazine of RETE, n. 25, Year XIII, Venice, RETE Publisher.

Kokot ,W. (2008). Port Cities as Areas of Transition – Comparative Ethnographic Research. In (Eds.) Kokot,W, Gandelsman-Trier, M., Wildner, K., & Wonneberger, A. Port Cities as Areas of Transition: Ethnographic Perspectives. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.

Kolstø, S, (2013)  Oslo Fjord City Course is Set, Making Good Speed!, PORTUS: the online magazine of RETE, n. 25, Year XIII, Venice, RETE Publisher.

Laitinen, T. (2013) Helsinki experiencing a period of growth: the Daughter of the Baltic Sea gazes out over the sea, PORTUS: the online magazine of RETE, n.25, Year XIII, Venice, RETE Publisher.

Martin, T. (2015). 1995-2015 Les 20 ans d’Euroméditerránée. Marseille: Euroméditerranée.

Merk, O. (2013), The Competitiveness of Global Port-Cities: Synthesis Report, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, 2013/13, OECD Publishing.

Merk, O., Hesse. M. (2012), The Competitiveness of Global Port-Cities: the Case of Hamburg, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, 2012/06, OECD Publishing.

Merk, O., Notteboom, T. (2013), The Competitiveness of Global Port-Cities: the Case of Rotterdam, Amsterdam – the Netherlands. OECD Regional Development Working Papers, 2013/08, OECD Publishing.

Merk, O., Hilmola, O-P, Dubarle, P. (2012), The Competitiveness of Global Port-Cities: the Case of Helsinki, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, 2012/08, OECD Publishing.

Merk, O., Comtois, C. (2012), Competitiveness of port cities: the case of Marseille-Fos, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, 2012/11, OECD Publishing.

Merk, O. (2014), The effectiveness of port-city governance, In Alix,Y. Delsalle & B. Comtois, C. (eds) Port-City governance. Editions EMS, 233-245.

Meyer, H. (1999). City and Port. Transformation of Port Cities London, Barcelona, New York, Rotterdam. Rotterdam: International Books.

Newman,P.,Thornley,A. (1996) Urban planning in Europe, International Competition, National System & Planning Projects. Routledge.

Osmaa,K. (2013) Helsinki converting waterfronts into residential areas. Portus: the online magazine of RETE, n.25,(online) RETE publisher.

Schubert D. (2008) Transformation Processes on Waterfronts in Seaport Cities – Causes and Trends between Divergence and Convergence. In (eds.) Kokot,W, Gandelsman-Trier, M., Wildner, K., & Wonneberger, A. Port Cities as Areas of Transition: Ethnographic Perspectives. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.

Schubert, D. (2011). Seaport Cities: Phases of spatial restructuring. In Hein, C. (Ed.), Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks .New York: Routledge.

Schubert D. (2013) The last frontier of urban waterfront regeneration: Northern Europe, PORTUS: the online magazine of RETE, n. 25, June 2013, Year XIII, Venice, RETE Publisher.

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

Van Hooydonk, E. (2009). Port city Identity and Urban Planning. Portus, 18, pag 16–23.

Van Stiphout, W. (2007). Lipstick on a Gorilla. Haven van de toekomst investigation http://www.havenvandetoekomst.nl consulted in 2/02/2016 15:41

Vries, I. M. J. (2014), From Shipyard to Brainyard – The redevelopment of RDM as an example of a contemporary port-city relationship, In Alix,Y. Delsalle & B. Comtois, C. (eds) Port-City governance. Editions EMS, 233-245.

Warsewa, G. (2012)  The Role of Local Culture in the Transformation of the Port–‐City, Portus Plus -2, the online journal of RETE.

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)

Waterfront Communities Project -The Cool Sea Toolkit (2010)

ESPO “ode of Practice on Societal Integration of Ports (2010)

CTUR-Cruise Traffic and Urban Regeneration  (2011)

FNAU Innovations Ville-Port, pour des projets intégrés Ville-Port (2011)

AIVP: Plan the city with the port (2015)

Online references:

http://www.porto.genova.it/ (accessed: 25/01/2016 9:28)

https://www.portofrotterdam.com (accessed: 05/02/2016 10:35)

http://www.oslohavn.no  (accessed: 10/01/2016 9:55)

http://www.portofhelsinki.fi/ (accessed: 13/01/2016 11:27)

http://www.marseille-port.fr (accessed: 14/01/2016 11:15)

http://www.portodelisboa.pt/ (accessed: 02/02/2016  10:27)

http://www.aapa-ports.org/ (accessed: 02/02/2016  16:11)


The Port and the City – On board diary

The Port and the City – On board diary

The port-city tour finished after Christmas with the final stop in Lisbon. Since September until December we traveled over 14 500 km visiting the study cases. The photography survey implied taking more than 15 000 photos to be able to get the essence of the difference cases and recognize their identity as port-cities. All the effort as been here narrated and will remain as a research database for the next stages in the investigation as well for other persons that might be interested in the topic.

During this time we have been able to identify what are the main problems affecting the port-city relationship, what are the main solutions been carried out and the important role the context still plays in a globalized world that tends to underestimate it. The inputs provided by the interviewees was precious and we will always be thankful for their time and patience.

The work developed has been summarized and edited into a book with all the posts, the photo essay of each city and the final article to be presented in the AESOP YA congress. This last element will also be published in the blog in the next days. The book is available in the issuu platform and it can also be downloaded in the link indicated at the end of this post.

One of the themes that stood out the most was the issue of social integration of ports. For this reason in the next step of the investigation we will focus on the initiatives that can be done to improve this integration. Fortunately we have the opportunity of collaborating with the AIVP in a current investigation related with this issue. We will be able to know more about the subject, meet with experts and increase the study sample to a worldwide research. In this area one of the most interesting initiatives are the port centers, as we have seen in some cases like Rotterdam. During the work with the AIVP we shall analyze this sort of “tool” and see how it has evolved, from the pioneers in Antwerp and Rotterdam to the most recent one in Livorno.

During the next research stages the focus will turn towards Lisbon, the main study case. Parallel to the collaboration with the AIVP we analyze the Portuguese capital into greater detail in order to identify the specific problems that hinder its relation with the port and the river. At the same time we will keep track of any news related with the research topic. According to the calendar we are currently in the midpoint of the PhD investigation. So far the experience has been rewarding and we will try to keep the work pace to be able to finish the project and deliver an interesting final thesis that could bring new knowledge to the field



Book Download

Final stop: Back to Lisbon

Final stop: Back to Lisbon

The final stop of the Port-City tour was again Lisbon, where the trip first started in September. After visiting several port-cities in different countries we came back to the main study case in order to make the final analysis, complete the information about the Portuguese capital and reach some conclusions. In this post we will focus in the gathered information in two new interviews with the Municipality and the Port Authority. The conclusions of the trip will be published in a final stop after Lisbon. Also a paper about the developed research will be written and presented in the AESOP Young Academics congress in spring in the city of Ghent.

Lisbon’s study case has already been described in the blog in the beginning of the trip, hence for this post only the new information is relevant. In all the previous study cases we interviewed representatives from the main organizations. In this case in our first stop we were only able to speak with Mr. Rui Alexandre from the APL (Lisbon Port Authority). This time we were able to contact with Mr. Pedro Dinis (PD), Architect head of the public space department in Lisbon’s Municipality (CML). We also spoke once again with the APL, this time with Ms. Mariana Teixeira from the development and institutional relations department and Ms. Carla Matos, architect from the same institution.

The relation between the city and the port

When we asked the interviewees about the issue both mentioned that in the last decade the relation has evolved positively, more significantly in the institutional field.


PD pointed during our interview that the key moment for the current stage of the relationship was the passing of the law DL 100/2008 of June 16 2008. In this new legal document it was stated that the territory under the Port Authorities control would be moved to municipal control in case there was no port activity or port expansions planned in it. The importance of this document is obvious; previously we had already seen waterfront interventions, like the EXPO 98, or important plans, like the POZOR, criticized for its excessive construction near the river. The main step forward of this law was the normalization of the port land release process. An official procedure for this sort of change was created, prepared for improving the urban integration of these territories and avoiding industrial brownfields.

The next step releasing the unused port areas was the creation of a strategic plan in order to grant the correct and promptly transformation of the concerned territories. In the case of Lisbon this mandatory document, as pointed out by PD, was the General Plan of Interventions in the waterfront of Lisbon. In this document, we can find the different partial plans for the released sectors of Lisbon’s waterfront, back then with 19 km length. At the same time the plan established which areas would remain as active port and also which ones would have a mixed management.

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General Plan of Interventions in the waterfront of Lisbon. Source: http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/

In the first posts about Lisbon we saw that the active port is mainly concentrated in two sectors, the one from Poço do Bispo to Sta. Apolonia, and the one in Alcântara. Here the APL has total autonomy regarding the planning although generally the APL contacts the municipal authorities regarding new interventions, as confirmed by both sides. We have not seen major changes in the port infrastructure and as we know the main interventions will happen in the south side of the river.

The three mixed use areas at Lisbon’s waterfront are: Pedrouços dock, Santos and the waterfront sector where the new cruise terminal is being built. These territories will later be explained as well as other waterfront interventions.

In our interview we also asked about a possible collaboration or a public company for the management of the waterfront territories, just like we have seen in Oslo (Fjordcity) or Rotterdam (Stadshavens). In Lisbon we already had public agencies of joint ventures for the development of waterfront projects with two cases being particularly relevant: the Parque Expo and the Frente Tejo. Both platforms produced visible results in the city. The first one was in charge for the management of the EXPO 98 area, and later on it developed several urban plans and waterfront regeneration projects in the scope of the Polis program. The second one was responsible for the three key projects Lisbon’s waterfront, the Museu dos coches (Carriage Museum), the Praça do Comércio and the Ribeira das Naus. Unfortunately both platforms were closed due to political or financial reasons. PD agreed that it could be an interesting option for the future perhaps not a public company but rather an organization focused in the management process of the waterfront, with fixed meetings for discussing the matters related with this particular territory.

Museo dos Coches. Project from Arch. Paulo Mendes da Rocha in Belém. The new museum was responsibility from the extinguished Frente Tejo organization. Source: http://www.mmbb.com.br/


In our first posts we already saw that for the local inhabitants Lisbon is a maritime city but not necessarily a port-city. In this issue we find similarities with the situation we encountered in Oslo, where the Fjord is the main identity element and not the port. In the case of Lisbon the Tejo (Tagus River) is indeed a constant presence in the arts and the history of the city. It was the connection with the sea and the source of inspiration for poets and painters.  On the other hand, as all interviewees confirmed, historically the city was not so much open to the river, there was a clear connection and the river was an important economic resource, but at the same time was something to protect themselves from. From the river several threats could arrive to the city so only in certain areas the contact with the water was open, although until a certain point there were constructions directly in the coastline. We could say the current public quest for the access to the river is not a re-conquest of the waterfront, as we find often in the media, but rather a first conquest. Also is important to notice, as pointed by the APL professionals, that the industrial Port of Lisbon did not developed using urban territory, but by creating landfills in front of the city. It is clear that we have seen this situation in other cases, like Oslo, but also Marseille and Genoa.

One of the main challenge for the APL regarding its relation with the city and the citizens is clearly the communication and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). If the people from Lisbon are able to understand how important the port is, perhaps they might embrace it as an element for the urban identity.

The Waterfront

One of the most intriguing features of Lisbon’s waterfront is the relatively scarce construction near the water. When we compared with other cases we see that in the north-central European cities, like Oslo, Helsinki, Rotterdam or Hamburg, the urban tissue reaches the water line. In the Portuguese case, except some port related buildings such as old warehouses, silos or terminals, we find very few new buildings. The new constructions on the waterfront are almost exclusively in the Expo area, or in Cais do Sodré. When we asked PD his onion about this characteristic, he explained there might be several explanations for this issue. The POZOR plan, as he mentioned, included a considerable amount of construction in the waterfront and it was not well received, therefore it might have been a reaction to it. On the other hand the concept of leaving the waterfront free from dense construction had the support of all political groups which was considered to be a necessary common ground for the future development. At the same time the construction constraints are stricter regarding housing projects. We can find new buildings in the waterfront related with other uses, such as offices in Cais do Sodré, or research, the Champalimaud Foundation. The limitation for housing projects is due to the fact that this sort of development changes the perception of the river, creating spaces that might be perceived as semi-private, harming the public identity pretended for this sensitive section of the city. The exception to this rule can be found in the Expo area, far from the historic city center, where small amount of housing were allowed near the water. In the neighbor municipalities we can find more projects of this kind, mainly in Oeiras and Cascais. Finally another important issue is the fact that Lisbon is the center of the metropolitan area with almost 3 million inhabitants that come to the city, therefore it is necessary to have large public spaces able to answer the demands of this population.

East part of the city

We have previously seen that there are several important projects planned for Lisbon’s waterfront. In the initial posts we explained that some of these projects had a doubtful future. For these reason we asked Arch. PD about them. Apparently, the economic crisis that stroke Portugal in 2008, and that we still suffer nowadays, was the main reason for the delay of these projects. The plan for Matinha, the area contiguous toward the south to Parque das Nações, is being developed into further detail. Next to it, the Jardins de Braço de Prata from Renzo Piano, is currently being revised, we can imagine it is necessary to update the project since it was originally designed in 1999. In the same area the eastern riverfront park should also be developed as compensation for the housing development. Since the project did not advance when it was expected, we can imagine that for this reason the investor did not built the park. As we mentioned in the previous posts about Lisbon, the competition for this new green area took place but it was cancelled due to irregularities in the process. Its development should be resumed in short time.

Plan from the Braço de Prata housing development, original project from 1999. In the image we also see the plan for Matinha. Source: http://www.rpbw.com

Central section

Near the historical city center is where we find one of the first mixed management areas, the Doca da Marinha (Navy dock), Also here we can find the Cais do Jardim do Tabaco and the old Doca do Terreiro do Trigo. In this location is the passenger terminal of Sta. Apolonia which will be replaced by the new Lisbon Cruise Terminal (LCT). In October 2015 the building contract was signed and the construction is already taking place. The new infrastructure should be finish for the first months of 2017. The location of this new terminal caused much discussion back in 2010 when the architectural competition took place. Its location in a sensitive context was seen with some reluctance by some planners. PD explained us why this place and this project were chosen. There were three main reasons: (i) one of the main goals was to create a direct pedestrian connection with the main tourist attraction areas and avoid the traffic generated by the large amount of tourists that arrive in the cruises. If the terminal would have been placed in the other possible location, Alcântara, the traffic problem would continue and new public transport lines would be needed; (ii) the context where the new construction will be built is indeed very sensitive, but at the same time is considerably degraded, it is expected that the new terminal will help to regenerate the area and the local commerce; (iii), another key goal was the creation of public space on the waterfront, the project from Carrilho da Graça generates new public areas on the ground but also on an elevated level.

The new Lisbon Cruise Terminal (LCT), a project from Arch. João Luis Carrilho da Graça. Source: http://jlcg.pt/

In the central section of the riverfront we can find two new projects that will improve the relation with the river. Near the Sta. Apolonia cruise terminal the same architect won the competition for the Campo das Cebolas, next to Praça do Comércio. This new space will have a green area near the river and improve the living conditions of this neighborhood, which due to its dense medieval urban structure has almost no green spaces. The other project, in Cais do Sodré, will improve the existing square opening it to the river with a new space by the water. Between both interventions the Ribeira das Naus project is already in use, since mid 2014, with very acceptance from the citizens.

New project for Cais do Sodré. Arch. Bruno Soares. Source: http://www.publico.pt
Campo das Cebolas, a new public space in Lisbon’s Waterfront. Arch. João Luis Carrilho da Graça.Source: http://www.publico.pt

In the area of Santos, one of the mixed management sections, there is still no specific project for it. In the strategic plan there are guidelines to what could happen in this area, mainly destined for leisure facilities. In the same document the main goal was to improve the visual and pedestrian connections between the consolidated urban structure and the river.

West waterfront

Alcântara is the second part of the waterfront where we can find the active port. Besides the cargo and cruise terminal we can also find the general offices of the APL and the historic cruise terminal that hosts paintings from Almada Negreiros. This building, as we mentioned in the initial posts, will be refurbished to host the APL headquarters and the documentation center that we will describe later.

Along the river, the next area where most important changes will take place, besides de new museum in Belém, is the Docapesca- Doca de Pedrouços, the third mixed management section of the waterfront. In this territory we used to find the fishing activities that unfortunately were moved outside Lisbon, to the MARL (Mercado Abastecedor da Região de Lisboa) and Nazaré. MT mentioned that the existing facilities were already in poor condition, therefore change was necessary. In this case a new agreement regarding this area was signed between the municipality and the APL during the port’s day, on the first of November of 2015. The main goal for this collaboration is the development of a sailing center including training facilities and a marina for teams from the Volvo Ocean Race, in order to allow them to stay the whole year and not just during the event. The municipality agreed to this new activity since they are also potentiating the water sports among the schools of the city. Also as compensation they demanded a new pedestrian connection with the waterfront to be built in Belém, what would allow the replacement of the existing ones, which were supposed to be temporary but ended up remaining for several years. In the same sections we should also see in the following years the second stage of the Champalimaud Center. For the development of this area the APL also collaborated with Oeiras, the bordering municipality. Ideally this project could be extended until the national stadium sport complex, regenerating a major section of the waterfront with 2 km, joining municipalities and port.

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Champalimaud Foundation. Project from Arch. Charles Correa. Source: http://www.fchampalimaud.org/

Communication Soft Values

Talking with the neighbors

We have seen previously in this research how important is the communication and interaction with the local communities for the relation between city and port. In the case of Lisbon we asked the representatives of the APL what initiatives were being taken in this matter. Regarding the communication we were told that the contact with the local communities is done mainly through the official channels, collaborating with the municipality and the freguesias, the neighbor or parish representatives. Apparently in recent years there was no need to establish a direct communication with the inhabitants of the areas near the active port in the north side of the river. Nowadays the main effort is been made in the south side, in the areas affected by the new terminal. In this context there were at least three debates with the locals since the project location was decided.


For the disclosure of seaport soft values, the port-center are a very useful tool. We have seen in Genoa and Rotterdam how they can explain the port reality and increase the acceptance of the port. In the case of Lisbon, MT confirmed us that there is a project for a new documentation and information center (CDI). The project is associated with the refurbishment of the cruise terminal of Alcântara, as it was early told by Arch. Rui Alexandre, and it would include an exhibition area prepared for groups of different ages, researches space, an area for meeting with the municipalities and citizens and a café. This new facility could complete the existent exhibitions about the history of the city since, as we said in previous posts, the current information available in the city and navy museum does not explain the important role of the port in the development of Lisbon over the last 150 years.  Ideally the port-center could be integrated in the network of Lisbon’s museum and libraries. For the moment the CDI is still a project without a specific opening date and is certainly pending from other real estate operations that would make possible the moving of the APL headquarters to the aforementioned terminal.

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Alcântara Passenger terminal. This building will be refurbished and host the CDI. Inside we can visit the paintings from Almada Negreiros. Author: José M P Sánchez

Image of the Port

Early before we mentioned the open day at the port of Lisbon that took place in Autumn 2015. This was the first time this sort of event took place in Lisbon. During this day the citizens could visit historic ships, like the navio escola Sagres, tub boats or the cruise terminal. We were told that the initiative was prepared in very short time therefore it did not got all the attention it could have gotten. The intention is to transform it into a fix event twice a year in fixed dates, which would allow more detailed planning and disclosure in the media. In other port-cities, like Hamburg and Rotterdam, these sort of actions are celebrated and bring the people to the port. The scale is clearly different but the effect can still be very positive.

Visitors during the Open day at the Port of Lisbon. Source: Porto de Lisboa

During the time spent in Lisbon we got to know other cultural initiatives also related with the port, for example an exhibition with historic pictures of the port that has been on tour in different locations. Regarding other cultural events, like concerts or festival, the APL rents some spaces for them, like the Nós festival in Algés waterfront. In compensation, besides getting a rent, they also request that the image of the port is present, mainly by playing a video before the shows. In other cases we have seen stronger port characterization of the space where the concerts take place, for example the Elbjazz festival in Hamburg or the classical music concert in Las Palmas.

Like many other ports the APL has developed a collaboration program with many schools of the region, organizing visits for children and teens. In the early mentioned agreement between the municipality and the APL, besides the professional sport facilities, the goal is to increase the water sports presence in the schools of the city.


The relation between the port and the city in the context of Lisbon has evolved significantly as we have just seen. Although the agreements took a while to happen, they did gave an important thrust to the synergies between both parties. Unfortunately the crisis that stroke the country in the year 2008 affected negatively the urban development towards the river and the port. In this post we have seen that there are important projects planned for the waterfront, but most of them have suffered a delay of several years, in some case even more than a decade. The result is that for several years we had areas of the waterfront that no longer had port use, but were not fully integrated in the urban structure.

During this time gap when the projects were place on hold, it could have been interesting to create temporary uses in order to allow them to be assimilated by the local inhabitants. Nowadays, as we were told by the municipality, the projects will finally become a reality and the general image of the waterfront should be improved. For the next step of the research it remains to analyze the most delicate part of the waterfront, the actual border between city and port in both sections of the active port in the north side. In these areas the challenge is even more difficult and a more thorough investigation will be required.

Port of Lisbon. The main challenger remains the border between the active port and the city.  Source: Port of Lisbon

The expansion of the port in the south part of the river will also be an interesting subject to study. We have already described the main goals and the process so far. The development of the ongoing competition and the approach for the relation with the municipalities should be also very interesting. The main question might be: How to create a container terminal in a brownfield which relates with the local community and the urban structure?

In all the interviews performed in this visit and the previous one. it was clear that the port is an important part of Lisbon, therefore its presence should not be questioned. However, we find that many inhabitant do not share this point of view.  The fact that the port did not actually took space from the city, but built its own in landfills, does not eases the image of the harbour among the locals. Lisbon is a river-city, but could it be a port-city? In this context the communications strategy has a key role. In order to have a good port-city relation in the future, the APL must act now. To achieve the acknowledgement from the citizens as a key element of their identity, the port must open itself even more and intensify the dialogue. Several important initiatives have been started, we hope they are consolidated and are able to give a correct use to the seaport soft-values.

For the next stages of the research we will address some of the problems here mentioned, particularly the role of port centers and the good practices on social integration of ports. This following step should be done collaborating with the AIVP, which will allow a new approach and hopefully bring new inputs from renowned professionals in the port-city relation field.