Guayaquil (Ecuador): the spectacular urban metamorphosis of a port-metropolis
The relocation of port traffic downstream and the abandoning of the historical port site have given the city of Guayaquil an opportunity to completely redevelop its waterfront. Started 20 years ago, the “Malecón 2000” project has profoundly altered the city’s image by giving a facade on the Estuary. It has been hailed as one of the best and most successful urban renewals of Latin America.
The principal city of Ecuador with 3 million inhabitants, Guayaquil is not only the economic capital of this small Andean country (population 15 million), but also its largest port. Today a total of 22 million tons per year moves over the port of Guayaquil. In addition to its historical role as the port serving the towns of the “Sierra”, the high plateaux, and the capital, Quito, it is now the great metropolis of the “Costa”, a rich agricultural region with plantations of bananas, cocoa, tropical fruits and sugar for agro-industrial uses, and an aquiculture industry (prawns). The city lies along the banks of the Guayas estuary, at the confluence of the Babahoyo and Daule rivers. The new port, built in 1963, has for years been suffering access problems from the Gulf of Guayaquil, and the land earmarked for port development has long since fallen to anarchic city growth. Today, the port (2 terminals in concession and 13 privates terminals) no longer has room for the new infrastructure necessary for its modernisation. The commercial port abandoned its historic installations in the city centre, with quays along the estuary, decades ago.
Today, the Municipality is promoting studies in order to dredge the access canal to 11 metres and for an ambitious new project to re-site the port downstream at Posorja, closer to deep waters and where plenty of land is available. This project should bring new life to the port and the city of Guayaquil as Ecuador’s principal port. It will also reflect the particularly strong economic growth enjoyed by the country over the last decade. In the north, the ports of Manta (bulk cargoes) and especially Esmeraldas (oil exports from Amazonia – 30 million tons) should undergo similar extension works in the next few years.
The relocation of port traffic downstream and the abandoning of the historical site of maritime activity have also given the city of Guayaquil an opportunity to completely redevelop its waterfront along the Guayas Estuary. Started 20 years ago, the “Malecón 2000” project has profoundly altered the city’s image by giving the centre a facade on the Guayas Estuary. It has been hailed as one of the best and most successful urban renewals of Latin America.
A city adrift
When Leon Febres Cordero, ex-president of Ecuador and a local boy, became mayor of Guayaquil in 1992, the city was in a situation described by all observers as catastrophic. The majority of public buildings were in an indescribable state of abandonment, as were basic sanitation services. Urban construction was out of control, municipal finances were at an all-time low while the levels of insecurity were peaking… Today it is hard to imagine the state of the city only two decades ago!
Swift, decisive action was needed. Backing onto the city centre, and the few historic buildings which had resisted the ravages of time, the banks of the Guayas had been abandoned since 1963, when the new port had been built further down the estuary. Here as elsewhere, the city turned its back on its waterfront. In the first half of the 20th century, cargo vessels still used to tie up at the end of a series of jetties, and the wharves were the scene of an intense social life. Once it had solved the problems of its infrastructure and basic services, the new municipal administration decided to make this abandoned river bank the spear-point of its urban regeneration project.
A pragmatic method of exemplary effectiveness
Several key ideas have dominated the execution of this ambitious project:
Speed. The situation was urgent, and the choice of a pragmatic approach was made at once with the decision to set up an operational structure, Fundación Malecón 2000, with a substantial work force in all fields, which would be capable of advancing sector by sector while ensuring coordinated management of the whole project.
A strategic master plan: « Image-Objective ». In 1996, the “Image-Objective” was drafted on the initiative of a local bank, “La Previsora”, and a team from Oxford Brookes University, modelled on the regeneration of waterfronts in North America, Europe and Argentina. « Image-Objective » was accepted by the Municipality in the same year, and the project was started.
Public spaces. Ignoring calls for privatisation, the so-called “Malecón Simon Bolívar” project was designed from the outset as an open, public space, including private cultural and commercial facilities open to the general public. On completion, the project had to be capable of generating the financial means necessary for its upkeep and evolution in the long term.
A principle of urban regeneration. The need was immediately perceived for the project to be a strong force for drawing the urban regeneration of the whole city behind it. The political, economic and social forces active in the city have been heavily involved in the definition of the project, which has proved successful in mobilising action. The local population has supported the project whole-heartedly, especially through the Malecón 2000 Foundation.
A specific tool. The need soon became apparent for a specific operational tool for planning, developing, building, administering, financing and maintaining the future Malecón Simon Bolívar. The Malecón 2000 Foundation was born in 1997 to meet this need. Legally the foundation is a private, non-profit-making organization which brings together the most diverse and representative institutions of Guayaquil. The city has handed over to the Foundation all the land on which the Malecón is built, consisting of 17 hectares along the river bank, on a 99-year lease.
Complementary financing. Finally, to finance the projects, two modes of operation were selected. On the one hand – a fairly classic solution for this kind of operation – concessions were granted for the commercial operation of certain private facilities (commercial premises, restaurants, IMAX cinema, etc.). On the other, a law was passed on 15 October 1997 establishing that 25% of donations or grants made by natural or legal persons to projects developed by the foundation could be deducted from tax liabilities for the financial years 1997 – 2002.
The latter financial mechanism allowed the Municipality to draw on considerable private funds to spend on the project immediately, although its own initial contribution could not exceed 25,000 USD. The number of private donors reached the remarkable figure of over 47,000 in 2001, a clear sign of public enthusiasm for the initiative! The redevelopment of the public spaces, which form 80% of the total area, thus benefited immediately from high quality work with a very carefully designed urban infrastructure. It is worth noting that 90% of the funds received by the foundation must be spent on effective project execution, and that a very strict control system has been set up.
To define and execute the project, an international team of urban planners, architects, landscape designers, etc., working in conjunction with Ecuadorian professionals, was rapidly appointed by means of international competitions. The operating team installed in the Foundation’s offices was coordinated by the British project leaders from Oxford Brookes University.
2001: “Guayaquil Siglo 21” Foundation set up
To complete the existing package, and considering the scale of the task of urban regeneration, a new operational instrument was set up in 2001. The Guayaquil Siglo 21 (Guayaquil 21st Century) Foundation, the sword in the Municipality’s hand, has wider powers than the Malecón 2000 Foundation, and its mission is to execute all the city’s urban redevelopment projects. A Municipal Foundation in private law, Guayaquil Siglo 21 now manages the municipal urban renewal budget without assistance from private donors. Under this regime it has financed numerous urban regeneration programmes; it is contractually bound to the Malecón 2000 Foundation, which continues to carry out its mission to redevelop and manage Malecón Simon Bolivar and other wharves located on an arm of the sea known as Estero Salado.
Malecón Simon Bolívar, a successful waterfront project for an ambitious urban regeneration plan
This ambitious first project in Guayaquil’s urban renewal is a continuous promenade 2.5 kilometres long running along the city’s riverbank. The central point is a monument commemorating the meeting between two leaders of South America’s Independence, Simon Bolivar and José de San Martin, where 9 de Octubre Avenue, the city centre’s main artery, meets the promenade. The long promenade ends at the foot of Las Peñas hill, which is also being redeveloped for tourism under another programme. The colourful two-storey traditional buildings are being preserved and refurbished for handicrafts shops and tourism services. In what has become the classic pattern of waterfront regeneration, the rhythm of the promenade is strongly marked by some of the typical recreational, commercial and cultural activities of waterfronts.
The whole project has been constructed in little more than ten years, a remarkable achievement which many elected officials in Europe can only dream of!
The principal structures from south to north are:
- The « Palacio de Cristal » (the Glass Palace), an old commercial hall belonging to the Eiffel workshops, which has been transformed into a multicultural space;
- a commercial centre housing more than 200 commercial premises of varying sizes;
- a big public area around the monument to Bolívar and San Martin, with two spectacular viewpoints giving views over the estuary;
- a huge botanical garden and children’s play area;
- two museum spaces dedicated to archaeology and contemporary art;
- a theatre and the IMAX cinema;
- underground parking below the Malecón surface.
This very diverse range of spaces is also a response to the cultural demand of a large, international city. Each structure was subject of specific competitive tenders, producing high quality projects. Today, Malecón Simon Bolívar is not only a favourite Sunday walk of the people of Guayaquil, but also one of the city’s principal tourist attractions. It is used by more than 20 million people every year.
So this operation to renew the Guayaquil waterfront, now remarkably well maintained, is a complete success, and demonstrates the viability of the management model applied. One of the keys to its success is certainly the continuity of Municipal policies since the initiative was launched in 1992. After Leon Febres Cordero, Jaime Nebot, mayor of the city since 2001, remained committed to actively pursue his predecessor’s urban redevelopment project. The model applied to create the Malecón Simon Bolívar has been reproduced with identical success along Estero Salado, an arm of the sea which forms the western boundary of the city centre and is connected to Malecón Simon Bolívar by the emblematic 9 de Octubre Avenue. It too has now been completely redeveloped.
Puerto Santa Ana, the emergence of a new residential and business district
To the north of Malecón Simon Bolívar, on the other side of the historic Las Peñas district where the city was founded in 1547, Puerto Santa Ana is a prolongation of the city’s transformation along the Estuary. The operation in this old port and industrial district was started in 2007, during the first term of the current mayor Jaime Nebot, and presents an evolution in the technique for urban transformation.
The whole ex industrial site, in particular with large breweries, was purchased by the Municipality. After the banks had been consolidated and roads built, half of the area was sold to private sector investors who are obliged to respect a very strict set of specifications. In particular, they are required to preserve and redevelop an important part of the existing industrial heritage. For example, silos in the sector have been converted into flats. The district is basically earmarked as a new residential sector with a collective housing for high earners.
Meanwhile the Municipality, through the Guayaquil Siglo 21 Foundation, has redeveloped public spaces with the same care shown in earlier operations. 50% of this space remains public and forms an extension of the promenade along the estuary. With the sales of these areas for the construction of dense private projects, the city hopes to obtain revenues with which to continue its urban regeneration policy.Redevelopment work continues to the north with the introduction of residential and office blocks, such as “The Point” – at 36 storeys the highest in the country – which will become emblematic of Guayaquil’s burgeoning new business district.
Port-city governance for the future?
Other challenges lie ahead for the port-city of Guayaquil. The announcement of the relocation of part of the port’s functions and the creation of new container terminals should trigger overall consideration on development of the port-city zone, especially road transport problems.
Moreover, the city of Guayaquil is regularly affected by the “El Niño” weather phenomenon, and better coordination between port and city development would probably allow problems resulting from flooding of the rivers to be handled better.
The current institutional situation of the port-city, where management of the principal port is directly dependent on a Port Authority attached to the national Port Directorate, and completely independent of the Municipal administration, does nothing to facilitate dialogue. The site for the relocation of the port is particularly controversial.
AIVP is very familiar with this type of situation, but there is little chance of evolution without awareness of the benefits of setting up a port-city partnership which will serve the global ambitions of Guayaquil the port-city!
The City of Guayaquil is a member of AIVP
Downlooad: Guayaquil Case Studies
San Diego: the port seeks approval for extensions to the Convention Center and an adjacent hotel
The proposed work provides improved access to the waterfront with the exclusion of heavy vehicles and the creation of a 2 ha park on the roof of the Convention Center. It will generate 7,000 permanent jobs and US$698 million additional turnover. (© United Port of San Diego)
Sydney: the new cruise ship terminal wins an award
Designed by Johnson Pilton Walker Architects, the new Sydney cruise ship terminal was developed on the site of an old container terminal. The jury of the World Architecture Award was particularly impressed by the successful integration of old and new. (© Brett Boardman)
Hamburg: GMP selected for a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the Baakenhafen basin in HafenCity
Source : Le courrier de l’architecte
Copenhagen is anticipating climate change rather than waiting for it to happen
The city of Copenhagen hopes to introduce solutions in the short term which will help it to adapt to climate change and the risk of flooding: convex streets, planting trees, etc. This strategy allows it to create jobs and improve the quality of life in the city at the same time.
Riga: a loan of €80.2 million for the relocation of the port outside the city, in addition to European finance
Technological challenge proposed by the Port of Algeciras (Spain) wins the “Fiware Zone” contest, hosted by the region and telecommunication company. The challenge will focus on innovative technology for environmental impact data.
City and Port work together in Livorno (Italy) to clean the “New Venice” district canals
New initiative for community dialogue in Bahía Blanca
The Port of Bahía Blanca (Argentina) has started the new online participative forums “Puerto Abierto” to establish new dialogues with the local community. The first meeting included representatives from the agricultural and food sector. The goal of the forums is to debate and align the expectations and needs from the local community with the actions of the port authority. The dialogue will be structured in three phases: diagnosis, discussion of ideas and starting the agreed projects. The participants of the future debate sessions will include representatives from the academy and scientific sector, business organizations, workers, environmental, and cultural initiatives. The final result will be a new strategic plan built from the social agreements.
Protecting biodiversity: Education and positive environmental effects
Port cities host a rich biodiversity. Protecting it can bring associated positive effects, besides the obvious ones. In Tarragona (Spain), the green areas policy of the port authority is showing excellent results. These areas must reduce the water footprint, promote the biodiversity and mitigate the CO2 emissions. The port has focused on the reforestation of degraded spaces and replacing water intensive plants for others more adapted to the Mediterranean climate. Every year, these areas neutralize 1500 tons of CO2 and provide shelter for endangered species such as bees. In Ceuta (Spain), the Port Authority supports the local Sea Museum (Museo del Mar), that is responsible for studying, protecting and disclosing the local biodiversity. This institution publishes several books and magazines promoting the results of their research, for example on the impact of ships on whales and dolphins. The museum also organizes educational activities and leads projects to include coastal areas in the European networks of protected natural reserves. Additionally, it is responsible for a unique facility, the “pudridero” a facility to preserve the carcasses and collect the bones to study and learn about marine animals.
Port Cities supporting the food production sector
The crucial role of port cities in food logistics is well known, but they can also be relevant in the production, particularly of seafood as one project from Valencia (Spain) shows us this week. The salinity, nutrients and location of nurseries in port waters are excellent for the production of clòtxina valenciana (Mediterranean Mussel). In the case of Valencia, the yearly production reaches 1200 tons. The quality of the water is guaranteed by the port authority and the mussels are controlled by the regional authorities to guarantee that they are safe for consumption.
South American Port Cities continue fighting the Covid-19
With the threat of the second wave of contagions grows in many countries, in South America, port city actors continue their solidarity actions to reduce the effects of the Covid19. The port of Valparaiso (Chile) continues to support the local community, with donations of equipment to the local hospital and food to disadvantaged collectives. In the meantime, in San Antonio (Chile), the port community lead by the port authority has sponsored a new laboratory to obtain faster test results. In Buenos Aires (Argentina), the port authority has extended the subsidies to concessionaries to reduce the economic impact of the crisis.
Port and City work together in Ceuta to improve the air quality.
The Talcahuano (Chile) Logistic Community (Comlog) will deploy an agenda oriented towards community relations and sustainability.
Referendum in Key West (USA) to decide the future of cruises
The citizen non-profit organization “Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships” has successfully gathered enough signature to call for a referendum in November’s ballot. The referendum will include three questions:
1 – limit the number of pax disembarking to 1,500/day;
2 – ban ships with more than 1,300 pax;
3 – prioritize cruise lines with the best environmental and health records.
This initiative arrives in a critical moment, when the industry is debating when the activity should restart. At the same time that some companies announce national or regional cruises, for example in Italy or Germany, the control institutions of some countries such as the USA, extend the “No Sail Order” for all cruise ships. AIVP hosted a webinar dedicated to cruises last June, and will retake the debate after the summer period, framed under goal 9 of the AIVP Agenda 2030, considering the health and life quality of port city citizens.
More Port Cities are focusing on Biodiversity protection
Two excellent projects focused on preserving or restoring the natural biodiversity: In Rouen (France), the Port Authority HAROPA, has developed between 2017 and 2019 a project to restore the wetlands connected to the Seine river in Sahurs. The new structure and water canal allow the tide to reenter the area and recover the natural environment of the estuary. In 2020 the port authority planted flora improving the integration of the site in the landscape and installed educational panels. In Bahía Blanca (Argentina), the Marine Wildlife Rescue Station has helped more 115 animals from 15 different species, over the past two years, since it was created. This facility is the result of the cooperation of the port authority of Bahía Blanca with several environmental organizations.
The Port of Huelva (Spain) and the Government of Andalucía have joined forces to develop a port and logistics innovation hub
New project led by Port of Rotterdam to foster hydrogen powered trucks by 2025 in central Europe. The project has the potential of reducing 100k tons of CO2 per year. This initiative is aligned with the 7 “building blocks” for the port of the future recently published by the port of Rotterdam.
Public investment and financial aid in port cities
After the first wave of cultural and social initiatives, port cities around the globe are presenting their plans for the post-covid recovery. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has communicated a package of $27 million of financial support for companies, as well as for professionals training and employment support. In the USA, the ports of LA and Seattle have presented renewed infrastructural investments plan. In the case of LA, the port will invest $367million to reduce the impact on the local economy and employment, while in Seattle the plan includes $1.5billion in 20 projects, including also airport facilities. At the same time, in Spain, the ports of Valencia and Bilbao have followed a similar path. While in Valencia the port presented a financial aid package of €57,2 million to support local port companies, the port of Bilbao announced that their investment plan for 2020 will reach €67 million, to support the economy and employment creation.
The sustainable port is both smart and collective
The CEOs of the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam have laid out converging visions for the future development of their respective ports, one having just returned from the World Economic Forum, the other speaking about in an interview about forward-looking prospect for the port. Both agree that the fight against climate change and the need for a carbon-neutral port economy are absolutely crucial. Technological innovation, both onshore and offshore, and moves to optimise logistics chains, will of course form part of the solution. Beyond that, however, the success of these changes will depend on the ability of ports to forge new partnerships and work collectively, by bringing their communities together around a shared process of transformation.
➜ Port of Rotterdam / Flows
To ease congestion on the roads, the Port of Melbourne (Australia) has confirmed plans to develop its rail infrastructure (with a €16 million investment)
Kribi (Cameroon): first 31 businesses now setting up in the port zone, with another 150 set to follow.
Vlissingen – North Sea Port (Netherlands): first developments for the Borsele 1+2 offshore wind farm that will eventually provide power to a million homes
Major trends and scenarios for the evolution of logistics
In the majority of port cities, logistics activity is increasingly structuring the territory. Marking out the future of this sector is becoming necessary. To this effect, the Urban Planning Agency of Marseille (France) remind us of a few key points. The massification of world trade flows will continue leading to the concentration of shipowners, the adaptation of ports, the extension and robotisation of warehouses, the emergence of single operators. In the era of e-commerce, the optimisation of the last mile has also become crucial. Nevertheless, land transport remains the weak link in this ecosystem with difficulties in massifying flows and proportionally a heavier CO2 impact. Pooling could be part of the answer but not all sectors believe in it. At the heart of these developments, the issue of employment appears to be an additional challenge for the territories.
Rwanda: Four ports on Lake Kivu earmarked as an alternative to road transport
Lake Kivu in western Rwanda marks the border with the neighbouring DRC. The four ports will be built with the help of the Netherlands, and spread out from the north to the south of the lake. They will promote improved mobility for passengers and goods between the various districts along the bank. Within twenty years, they should handle the majority of commercial cross-border trade and some 3 million passengers. The Government is also keen to use the ports as a platform for more ambitious plans to kick-start water-based transport on other lakes and rivers in Rwanda. The aim is to reduce the use of onshore transport infrastructures, maintenance of which represents a significant portion of the national budget. Finally, the project will help to boost competitiveness for both the food industry (beer, tea, coffee) and the cement industry, while also giving a lift to the tourist sector.