Cities of a New Port Metropolis

Atlantic Coast, Izabal

Until now, all major initiatives to create a port on the Atlantic Coast of Central America have failed to produce human-scale places due to the vast surface area required by modern hub-container facilities. Our Grand Prize student winner is a counter-proposal based on the simple idea: Ports should grow from real cities.

The student, Rodrigo Bollat Montenegro, starts with three premises: Maritime trade will always be important, the current tide of hyper-globalization will give way to more localized manufacturing, and “free trade districts” in ports will cease to be important. “Rather,” he believes, “the whole city will be a place for free trade.”

Cities of a New Port Metropolis uses a block-and-street structure that extends to the waterfront, which is mediated by public space or a hard edge such as a wall.

New Port Metropolis Guatemala overviewAn overview of the New Port Metropolis. Source: Rodrigo Bollat Montenegro.

This framework makes use of activities that thrive in the vicinity of maritime trade. Manufacturing neighborhoods are integrated with financial districts. Blue-collar workers labor side-by-side with bankers, chefs, and fishing merchants—“All because everyone is closer to the source… and gateway of trade.”

In the project’s vision, transportation is vital, and the plan maps major corridors by looking at the movement of people. “Rail lines connecting to the main land penetrate the city together with the freight lines, and stop at two major train stations strategically located to connect to the tram line and within walking distance of a city center.”

The student used “organic design” to imagine their metropolis. “To design a city in such a way that it may seem like it grew over time, was one of the biggest lessons learned in this project. The study of port cities originally founded with the Laws of the Indies, their growth over the centuries, and their present state informed the shape of every block, street, and plaza.” The study of how Western civilization has built cities over time revealed certain patterns of urban structure that have endured and provide today the platform for successful living, the student reports. “Not only is this a beautifully drawn project, it brings a powerful theory of urbanism to life,” says Charter Awards jury member Hank Dittmar.

Top photo: The New Port Metropolis from a bird's eye view. Source: Rodrigo Bollat Montenegro.

Similar Projects


Plan El Paso

El Paso, Texas

The City of El Paso grew up around rail and the streetcar but, like most American cities, it was remade for the automobile and sprawled far into the countryside in the 20th Century.


Plan El Paso #thisisCNU

El Paso, Texas

The City of El Paso grew up around rail and the streetcar but, like most American cities, it was remade for the automobile and sprawled far into the countryside in the 20th Century.