Plan the city with the port: guide of good practices

Published by  30 June, 2015 9:44 am 1 Comment

Plan the city with the port: guide of good practicesThe purpose of this Guide is to provide decision makers and stakeholders a decision support tool for addressing the problems they will face when putting into practice the ideal of “Planning the city with the port”. The guidelines contained herein, and the examples provided, do not claim to be complete or exhaustive. They are meant as sources of inspiration to address four major topics: spatial organisation; economic development strategies; environmental challenges, project management and governance. The guidelines are the result of the intense exchange of experiences that has taken place during the international meetings organised by AIVP these last quarter century, and of the AIVP’s constant monitoring of the implementation of development projects at the city/port interface.


City/port interfaces are complex territories where the inherent competition and complementarity between city and port play out in the face of limited spatial resources. The search for the right balance calls for solutions that guarantee a good spatial and functional mix capable of transforming and rejuvenating not only the city/port interface but also the entire territory of the port city.


Climate change and rising water levels are a major consideration in large-scale projects for port city developers. A new approach to waterfront planning is gradually emerging, which could see the development of pioneering solutions, not just to protect the environment but as an opportunity to create new spaces.
However, planning the city with the port necessarily means optimising environmental performance. In this too, the city-port is a useful place for rolling out strategies and measures to reduce the environmental footprint, with a clear emphasis on anticipation and cooperation.


The economic potential of city/port territories goes well beyond cruise business alone. It is now based around the development of new traditional or highly innovative activities, driven by the specific features of city/port interfaces. Alongside fishing, boating, etc., the creation of a more comprehensive range of tourist attractions and services is a driving factor in the area’s economic development, attracting both local visitors and tourists from further afield.
In addition to providing an opportune location for creating cultural clusters, port-city territories are also well suited to the creation of economic clusters built around maritime businesses – such as offshore wind power, recreational sailing, etc. – which currently occupy a dominant place in many port cities.
In order to succeed, however, these projects require strategies to make them possible and profitable over the long period needed to realise them.


Housing development strategies or plans to fill in dock basins can pose an irreversible threat to the future of existing port activities. One way to avoid such pitfalls involves clearly identifying the port’s current footprint and the ways in which it is likely to be altered under various port development scenarios. The findings can then be used to examine compatibilities – and incompatibilities – between port expansion or redevelopment projects on the one hand, and urban development projects on the other.
This example alone illustrates the need to consider the range of options available for urban and port (re)development, and to ensure adequate means of dialogue and consultation are in place.
In addition to this, however, the challenge is to secure the engagement of civil society, ensuring that the population properly understands and supports projects as they progress.

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Created with the support of:
Port Brussels Haropa Marseille Fos Ministère de l'écologie , du développement durable et de l'énergie Ministère du logement, de l'égalité des territoires et de la ruralité


1 Comment

    Ronald de A. SILVA says:

    Perfect approaches. I live in the city of São Luís, State of Maranhão, Brazil, where is settled the country’s second largest port complex, which handles over a 120 millions tons of cargo per year. As architect & urban planner we want to participate in the debates for better urban relantionship with the port complex.

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