Urban Port

16 July 2013

Synthesis AIVP Days Helsinki : “Culture and competitiveness of port cities

Announcing the creation of cultural infrastructure in port spaces which are still active, or in the process of conversion, often provokes arguments and disagreements between the players concerned, and also the population.

Are cultural installations essential to the success of the port-city relationship?

Disputes are even more open in a context of local or national economic crisis. This was the case in Iceland in 2008 when the construction of the Harpa Concert Hall at the port-city interface of Reykjavik was launched. Investing so heavily in this type of infrastructure appears risky to many, and at all events not a high priority.

The feedback from the latest AIVP Meeting shows that in the long term this kind of bet on the future does pay. It has a positive impact on the quality of life, turning these sites into attractions which draw thousands of visitors, and places where people want to live. They also strengthen relations and cooperation between the parties involved.

Furthermore, in addition to the specific buildings, the challenge is also to bring new life to a whole territory, and to construct communities. This can be achieved by supporting the creation of “culture districts”, as in Reykjavik or Buenos Aires. Thus particular attention is paid to the quality of public spaces to favour the adoption of the new infrastructure by the population. The Spanish example of Malaga is enlightening in this respect, with the creation of a circuit round the cultural infrastructure which already existed in the city centre and the new infrastructure created on the waterfront. New links are forged, a new port-city weft is created. Appropriation by the population becomes possible thanks to the creation of a single port-city public space and a common imaginary.

At Veracruz, in Mexico, the need for a port extension must also be based on maritime culture, a culture of the sea. This enables the citizen to understand that port growth is not only an economic asset, but also contributes to the social and cultural development of the community.

Supporting the creation of a port culture or supporting the acceptance of port-city development or redevelopment projects – in the end the challenge of cultural infrastructure is the same for the decision-makers, whether for the city or the port.


Enhancing the port-city image: the port as an inspiration for architects

In a sense, the competition launched by the port of Piraeus in Greece for the reconversion of the silos into a museum is also a longer term strategic investment. Its aim is to achieve social acceptance of the presence of the port and an improvement in its relations with the city, to change the image of a port which is perceived as a barrier.

The benefits expected from the installation of high quality cultural infrastructure and public spaces here are of course associated with the fact that the passenger port is just next door, and that cruise activity is growing rapidly. The architects decided to open the building to the outside and provide views over the active port. References to the industrial past are also used in the treatment of public spaces to assert the identity of the site.

Taking inspiration from port architecture and exploiting it while respecting the logic of the site is the principle followed also in Marseilles for the various ambitious works of cultural infrastructure which have been carried out along the port-city interface. These projects have been conceived specifically as a function of the unique spirit of the location. Here port architecture becomes a tool by which identity asserts itself against the risk of standardisation. In the case of Marseilles, it is also a question of strengthening its strategic positioning on the international scene.

According to Marta Moretti, the emergence of this problem of identity, of the use of port vocabulary and memories of the city’s port history as opportunities for the creation of a new identity, is characteristic of the second generation of waterfront projects. The economic crisis appears to have brought about a change of attitude, insisting more on the re-use and exploitation of abandoned urban infrastructure. This change is a particular feature of the waterfront redevelopment operations of Northern Europe. Here, the opportunity is taken to re-think the waterfront while paying more attention to the question of sustainability and the importance of public spaces.


Citizens, partners in port performance

Port performance now is additionally measured by the degree of knowledge that a territory has of its own industrial and economic tissue. This is especially true in the case of a port-city, which often suffers from the negative and sometimes false image which its own citizens have. How then can a society be constructed which is able to contribute to economic development on the basis of its own identity?

For Hakan Fagerström (Tallink Ferry Company), the emergence of a port culture may have a positive influence on the local economic tissue of the port, but only so long as it is adopted by all the players of the port-city. The need, for economic reasons, to remain in the heart of Helsinki is particularly important for passenger transport companies, whose customers do not like to arrive in a no-man’s-land.

And it is just as important for the city to safeguard activities compatible with urban uses and to offer a berth to ships which demonstrate international trade over the port. According to Pascal Freneau of the Port of Nantes in France, ports are among the elements which structure the world, and comprehension of how trade functions is to be encouraged.

Likewise the Israeli port of Ashdod, since the port was modernised in 2005, has decided to redefine its business strategy and basic values by trying to improve its image and its relationship with the public. This step is born of the conviction that collaboration with the community and its principal institutions is an essential value for a port authority sometimes faced with a difficult social dialogue.

The creation of a Port Centre is one of the measures adopted to give back a certain pride to port workers, and in turn to show the population and the community of Ashdod the different activities and careers offered by the port. It is also a meeting point allowing the port to open its doors and show potential investors the interest shown in the territory by the various communities, institutions and companies. Its attractiveness is strengthened by a local dynamic which invests in the development of a shared port culture.


ISPS code, restricted spaces: how to create and manage cultural events in the port environment

For Jean-François Driant, Director of a major cultural infrastructure at Le Havre in France, “There is nothing that looks so like a scene in a theatre as a port basin.” The port is a tremendous vehicle for an imaginary. The only difficulty is to find a common space in which to translate this imaginary while respecting the constraints of artistic creation and the needs of port operations.

The debate underlined the fact that the ISPS Code seems particularly difficult for port authorities to get round, as was shown by the example of Guadeloupe, subjected to pressure and control by the neighbouring United States. As Harald Jaeger, CEO of the port of Valparaiso in Chile remarked, security is an asset for a port, a value to be protected. It would take many years to recover lost cruise ship passengers after an attack. For all that, the 15 years’ experience of Valparaiso, with many initiatives in the cultural, sporting, recreational, etc. fields, show that temporary partial opening of the port (10 days per year) is possible. Contributions from the floor: according to the President of the port of Bahia Blanca in Argentina, one idea is to create specific corridors inside the port, which could be financed by incorporating the cost into port dues. At Malaga, after three years of discussion, access to the wharves when there are no cruise ships in port may be possible in future.

Flexibility seems to be the key word, including being open to events generating up to a million visitors, like the Tall Ships Races. An event which, apart from the immediate benefits for the city, had a double positive impact: strengthening cooperation between city and port players, and generating financing which can subsequently be re-injected into port-city redevelopment projects.

Constructing continuity between city and port, creating an identity and reinforcing culture and the local community, in the long run is a formidable lever for economic and social development which can irrigate an entire territory.


AIVP Days Helsinki June 2013 : Presentations available here

Photos Gallery

10 July 2013

Sydney, Darling Harbour: project revised

A new proposal for Darling Harbour which takes public reaction into account has just been unveiled. The modifications particularly concern three major buildings in the project: the International Convention Centre, the Exhibition Centre and the theatre.

Source : Architecture & Design (+ images)

9 July 2013

Quebec: the port announces better integrated warehouses and a green interface between port, city and river

Source : Québec hebdo

9 July 2013

Amsterdam: 150 floating apartments at Ijburg. A solution that will become more common as water levels rise?

Source : Gizmodo

8 July 2013

Renzo Piano agrees to redesign the port of Genoa

gênes_gm_8 juillet2013The draft proposed by Piano nine years ago was popular as a sustainable vision for port development. However the project has been bogged down due to the failure of the institutions involved to reach agreement. Today the architect is calling on the City, the Port and the Region to work together on the future Masterplan.
Source: La Repubblica

4 July 2013

A bridge to link the old fortress of Leghorn with the city

At the end of this month, the city will publish notification of a project for the creation of a floating bridge. It will create a new pedestrian route between the port and the city, and improve the management of tourist flows from the Maritime Station. In the longer term, the fortress will be operated by the company managing the passenger terminal in order to hold cultural events and house the new Port Centre. (photo © AIVP)

Source: Comune di Livorno

4 July 2013

Bilbao: a recyclable cruise ship terminal

Inspired by the design of the container, the Bilbao cruise ship terminal was built in a factory with more 70% recycled steel, then transported to the site for assembly. Apart from reducing construction time, this will allow the entire terminal to be dismantled and recycled. Details

Source : Europa Concorsi (+ images, plan)

Citizen Port

16 December 2020

Developing an eco-citizen culture to manage natural resources in Senegal

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Citizens must be part of ecological governance initiatives. Following this principle, the Intercommunal Agreement of the Petite Côte (EIPC), a region of Senegal, implemented the Programme of Good Ecological Governance. They support ecological, energy and economic transition through the development of an eco-citizen culture for an inclusive management of natural resources in the region. The programme includes educational and awareness initiatives for the coastal territory, such as the music compilation “NA SET”. Other goals are the training of local leaders for integrative climate change resilience governance and sustainable waste management, creating new jobs for youth and women.

Enda Energie, Vivafrik

16 December 2020

The Port of Helsinki (Finland) will multiply the amount of solar energy it generates. The goal is to be 100% carbon-neutral by 2035.

Port of Helsinki

16 December 2020

Sustainable tourism in cruise cities. Intercruises and Intrepid Urban Adventures work together to develop new small group walking tours with a positive impact in destinations.


16 December 2020

Engaging citizens in Maritime Spatial Planning in Anosy. The participatory process will build a maritime planning accepted by all in Madagascar.

Midi Madagasikara

16 December 2020

Graffiti in port city: New life for industrial landscapes in Linz and Hamburg

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Urban art and industrial port settings are a win-win combination. In many port cities around the globe, warehouses and industrial building are great canvases for graffiti artists to bring new life to these landscapes. In the case of Linz (Austria), the Mural Harbor is an open-air gallery in the river port, that started in 2012 and has already gathered more than 300 murals from artist coming from 35 different countries. Today, the area is one of Linz’s tourist attractions, including guided walking tours. In 2020, a new area was inaugurated: the M.A.Z. Museum auf Zeit, a temporary urban art exhibition and indoor extension of the Mural Harbor. Another example of graffiti art in port city areas can be found in Hamburg, Germany. The Walls can Dance initiative, in which national and international urban artists create colourful large-scale murals, along a path connecting the city centre of Harburg with the river port.

URBANSHIT, Linz Tourismus, Walls Can Dance

16 December 2020

Protecting and valorising historical heritage in Algeciras (Spain)

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The port of Algeciras is developing the Plan for the Conservation and Enhancement of the Historical Heritage. One of the areas of action of the new plan concerns the historical bunkers of the fortifies system of strait of Gibraltar. The first projects will include the refurbishment of two bunkers in the beaches of Guadarranque and Rinconcillo, included in broader waterfront plans. Further refurbishment projects in the Isla Verde fort are being discussed.

La Vanguardia

9 December 2020

Antwerp Port Experience pavilion renewed to discover the port from the city

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The port pavilion Antwerp Port Experience, in the port city interface of the Belgian City, has been renewed to display a new and more attractive exhibition for all audiences. The concept for the exhibition uses virtual and augmented reality to explain the port. The visitors will receive a tablet in addition to a personal explanation when entering the pavilion, guiding them through an interactive tour. Pointing the camera of the tablet at the aerial photo, the visitors will be able to choose which port activities they want to know more about. When they scan the portrait photo of a port employee, the character will come to life on the screen explaining more in detail. The new space will open on December 19th. Similar immersive digital tools are already used in several Port Centers of the PC Network.

Port of Antwerp, Port Center Network

9 December 2020

Adapting to climate change, from New York to Benin

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Coastal areas around the world are facing the same challenge: adapting their territories against the consequences of climate change, including seal level rise and extreme weather events. In New York (USA), the ambitious Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project will cost the city $19bn, but now, in pandemic times, may be difficult to get the funding. Experts claim for political support, to guarantee financing before new natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, occurs. In the other side of the spectrum, less-resourceful countries like Benin are also making significant efforts to fight against coastal erosion. These investments are visible for example in an area of 15 km of Cotonou’s eastern coast, including artificial dikes of 200 to 300 metres long. Climate change adaptation is the first goal of the AIVP Agenda 2030.

AIVP Guide of Good Practice, Financial Times, NYC Government, La Nation Benin, Jeune Afrique, AIVP Agenda 2030

9 December 2020

HAROPA, Port of Paris (France) supports companies in the tourism, events and leisure sector with new economic measures during the pandemic crisis.


9 December 2020

Improving the water quality with a new technology using algae. The project recently granted the Port of Baltimore an AAPA environmental award.

Maryland Port Administration (PDF)


Enterprise-driver Port

13 January 2021

With help from the port authority, the University of Antwerp (Belgium) has developed 3D sensors to automate river transport and make it more attractive

Port Strategy

13 January 2021

In the city of Grand-Bassam (Côte-d’Ivoire), cocoa processors are organising local production to make up for lower exports

All Africa

13 January 2021

Tallinn (Estonia) approves an ambitious plan for cold ironing and renewable energies

Offshore Energy

Gestion des déchets
13 January 2021

Waste: Eldorado for port cities?

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Industrial ecology is a means of pooling and recycling emissions from industry to assist other companies and focus development on a virtuous circle. Port Salford in Greater Manchester (UK) is set to be extended using recycled construction materials, avoiding a significant amount of pollution that would otherwise be generated by concrete production. This port development mirrors other urban initiatives, including one in Brussels (Belgium), where city hall has selected 38 projects. These will also be actively supported by the port, which is providing land to store the recyclable materials. However, the idea is not limited only to European countries. Kenya has signed an ambitious partnership with the firm ENI to convert agricultural waste into biofuels in Mombasa, the country’s largest port city.

The Business Desk ; DH Net ; Le Magazine du manager

Offshore carbon capture
6 January 2021

Carbon capture and storage: an opportunity for port cities

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In port cities, carbon capture and storage will no doubt be central to the new circular economy. Why? Because not only do port cities usually host carbon-emitting industrial activities, but most storage facilities will be sited offshore! In Australia, Perth-based company Transborders Energy is set to launch an offshore project with Japanese partners. The constructors are already lining up, with the likes of K-Line or Stena Bulk having already created prototype carbon storage vessels. Port infrastructures will enable carbon to be centralised and then shipped to storage sites, as is the case with the Northern Lights project based in Bergen (Norway) and operated by Total, Shell, and Exxon-Mobil. Another project of interest is CinfraCap, currently being designed in Gothenburg (Sweden) by five Nordic firms. And of course, we have previously reported on the EU Commission-funded Porthos project in progress at the port of Rotterdam (Netherlands). Its operators are confident, and a progress update in December indicated that the project will be completed on time!

OedigitalSplash 247 ; Splash 247 (2) ; Oedigital (2) ; L’Usine Nouvelle ; Hellenic Shipping News ; Port of Rotterdam (web)

6 January 2021

Research by Dalhousie University (Canada) points to algae as a future food source

CBC Canada

6 January 2021

Industry heavyweights including Shell, Vattenfall, and Siemens are planning to create an offshore facility off the coast of Heligoland (Germany) by 2025, to produce green hydrogen by electrolysis

Mer et Marine

6 January 2021

Morocco: a “smart port challenge” open until 29 January 2021 to accelerate the ecological transition and innovation

Smart Port Challenge (web) ; ANP Maroc

16 December 2020

The cities of Cayenne and Kourou (French Guiana) are banking on the sustainable blue economy to kick-start growth, in partnership with the Regional Council

Régions de France

16 December 2020

The Baltic Ports terminal in Gdnyia (Poland) is joining the European COMODALCE project which aims to increase intermodal rail traffic to 30% of container throughput