Narratives of Eastern Mediterranean and Atlantic European cities





Eastern Mediterranean, Atlantic Europe, cities


Port cities have traditionally played an essential role in local and transnational networks. The spatial imprints of cross-border flows and socio-spatial interactions in port cities have left intertwined and entangled histories. However, the physical presence of these rich histories is not always visible.

Port cities have undergone a number of socio-spatial metamorphoses since the early 20th-century. A series of local and global events have triggered significant transformations, among these:


Natural and human-made disasters

De-industrialisation and changes in regulation (neo-liberal policies)

Changing social conditions (migration and population exchanges)

Such events have resulted in rapid, sometimes haphazard, urbanisation while, in other cases, regeneration projects have erased traces of history in many places. Many East Mediterranean and Atlantic European cities were also affected by armed conflicts. Contemporary waterfront regeneration projects produce generic results that further conceal the marks from the past.

Despite the physical transformations of port cities, historical narratives remain. Global trade and transnational exchange left tangible imprints on urban patterns and manifested themselves in cultural expressions such as paintings, engravings, travelogues, novels, travel books, and poems. Authors, artists, and travellers found inspiration in port facilities such as quays, customs houses, warehouses and site-specific urban typologies and street patterns, and social spaces in the cities.

Many protagonists are brought together in such narratives, from elite traders, local governors, and white-collar workers (e.g. engineers, developers), to the domestic and foreign labour classes, transit passengers and sailors, and local inhabitants.

This issue of Spool seeks to investigate narratives on the architecture, culture and development of coastal cities. We have challenged authors to present how narratives inform designers and how narratives are used in contemporary design approaches?

What is the role of the architect/planner in the contemporary narrative formation of port cities, particularly in the changing context of port-city relations?

We have selected seven contributions for this issue of Spool, four from the Eastern Mediterranean basin (Istanbul, Beirut, Acre and Jaffa) and three from Atlantic Europe (Bodø, Matosinhos and Gafanha da Nazaré).

How to Cite

Tanis, F., van der Hoeven, F., & Schrijver, L. (2021). Narratives of Eastern Mediterranean and Atlantic European cities. SPOOL, 8(1), 3–4.