The Archipelago of Knowledge: From Research to Project

Translated title of the contribution: Arcipelago di conoscenza: Da ricerca a progetto

Paolo de Martino, Carola Hein, Francesco Garofalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientific


The relationship between a city and its port, is undoubtedly one of the most conflictual both because of its complexity and because of the diversity of laws, rules and actors involved in the cultures and planning logics of both, the city and the port. They are the result of different historic traditions and practices as well as different geographic and political contexts. These factors, which over the centuries have given shape to an urban puzzle1 and to a spatial and social separation, have become key elements in attempting to understand the delicate city-port relations. The concept of archipelago2, as used here is a planning and methodological instrument, that includes, on the one hand the idea of the difficulty of coexistence, the difficulty of keeping things together in their diversity and on the other hand the will to work on existing spaces, practices and logics to modify them and build, like in an archipelago, new geographies and systems of spatial relations. So working between the city and the port forces architects, city planners and legislators to rethink both their planning logics, which consider the city and port as two separate elements, and areas of competence, identifying the intersecting elements of the different scales, within which to imagine scenarios of change and possible hybrids.
The case of Rotterdam can stand as an emblematic example. Rotterdam could be read as a large port attached to a city if one considers that some of the new expansion of the former is about 40 kilometres from the urban centre. So the city and the port are separated from both physical and spatial points of view. However, this separation has been compensated for over the years by close
collaboration among the local and national institutions, private subjects and research institutions to define a shared planning agenda that looks on the port as a strategic element of the city’s infrastructure, but at the same time one that can recreate a contact in the collective memory of its inhabitants.
Translated title of the contributionArcipelago di conoscenza: Da ricerca a progetto
Original languageMultiple languages
Pages (from-to)87-97
Number of pages11
JournalEco Web Town: Journal of Sustainable Design
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • port-city
  • Rotterdam
  • borders
  • Archipelago
  • Negotiation


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