Puerto de Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Competition 1998, project 1999-2004, realization 2007-

Embracing enclosure
Vision and reality

The scheme we propose expresses a new urbanistic vision for Santa Cruz. This vision is a new way to link the city of Santa Cruz with the sea and therefore a new way to connect the island of Tenerife with the world. The character of this vision has been the greatest challenge on our way to find the appropriate scheme for the new Link Quay. However, we have also been very clear from the beginning that no stone would ever be put on top of another if the technical, functional and economical requirements have not been taken care of with the same intensity. Our design strategy has therefore been very strictly based on all these requirements of reality as expressed in the client's brief and also on the needs and the habits of the people of Santa Cruz.

The urbanistic vision
The island of Tenerife is the result and the physical expression of volcanic eruption. Even if erosion has flattened some areas on the island the steep shores and the abrupt transition from scarce land to the open Atlantic is a physical reality which has always determined the urbanisation on all sides and edges of the island. Tenerife doesn't have the endless and flat beaches like other cities on the sea, like e.g. Barcelona on the Spanish mainland.

A gesture of embracing and enclosing
Therefore the relation between sea and land is not built in horizontal layers, but in singular gestures, comparable to sudden, natural events. Our scheme for the new Link Quay focuses on this idea of the singular urbanistic gesture, which will add a unique and specific quality to the City of Santa Cruz.

This urbanistic gesture is a gesture of embracing and enclosing. Through this enclosure both the city and the sea will be interlocked: on the one hand the city embraces the sea and on the other hand the sea reappears in the city after having been banned from there through earlier city planning.

Embracing and enclosing means creating new urban space rather than just an object or a surface grafted to the shoreline. We therefore reject the concept of the Link Quay as a singular surface or as a built object in front of the current city sea front. Instead we underscore the importance of creating new public space for people to meet.

Approach from the city: a grand sequence of open public spaces
If you approach from the city the enclosed Marina will open up in front of your eyes as a grand open public space. This new space will be part of a whole sequence of urban spaces, each of them with its own specific quality: Plaza Candelaria - Plaza de España - Arena - Marina. The new Arena and the Marina will shift the centre of gravity of Santa Cruz' urban and social life closer to the Atlantic.

Approach by sea: like an oasis
The new enclosure is conceived as an artificial landscape which cuts out the Marina from the Atlantic Ocean. If you approach by sea the enclosed Marina will remind you of a magic piece of garden sitting in front of the city and the steep mountains. It will attract you like an oasis in the sea.

Description of the proposed urbanistic interventions
The embracing enclosure and the Marina

The new enclosure will be built out of existing dikes supplemented with platforms, low rise buildings of one or two storeys and palm trees. It is conceived as a piece of artificial landscape, like a vessel rather than a piece of architecture. The low rise buildings are perfectly integrated into this enclosure, they are an active and habitable part of it. Comparable to a necklace, they embrace the Marina. Pedestrians will walk on the roof top of these embracing buildings from where the view on to the sea, the Marina and back to the city will be sumptuous.

The buildings have courtyards and ramps connecting between the upper and the lower levels. Restaurants, shops, clubs etc. can therefore have common or separate access from the pedestrian level on the roof top or the Marina on the lower level. The Marina itself is conceived for 600 boats. It has state of the art equipment and facilities such as clubs and shops specialising in nautica and separate access for cars through the port route.

The enclosure, the low rise buildings and the landscaping (the trees) can be realized step by step. This incremental approach helps developing the new Marina according to economical and functional needs.

Two inclined pedestrian boulevards
The new Marina enclosure will be continued on both the south and the north ends by inclined ramps which generously connect the lower pedestrian level of the Arena and the Marina and the upper pedestrian level of Avenida Maritima. These broad ramps will be landscaped and decorated with benches and little commercial points and pavilions from where the whole port area can be overlooked. Besides this very attractive function as pedestrian boulevards, they also have a very practical function covering large parking spaces on both the south and the north ends of the Marina.

The arena
The Arena is a new plaza which continues the main sequence of open public spaces between Calle del Castillo, Plaza Candelaria, Plaza de España opening widely up to the Marina and the sea. As a place with eminent public importance it somehow succeeds the historic castle which had both a military and a symbolic value for Santa Cruz. The castle also had an urbanistic role in defining local identity. The new Arena will literally expand this role of local identity welcoming big influxes of people in Santa Cruz' daily life and especially during carnival or the Christmas concert. The Arena is a place of communication between people, just as the port is a place of communication with the world. The Arena is conceived as a vessel for people. Its round shape underscores the general and public function. It will be fitted out with benches and other convenient installations for the public. We would like to develop diverse surface treatments in collaboration with artists such as Gabriel Orozco, Jorge Pardo and others.

Los Llanos development
The Los Llanos industrial site offers a great opportunity for future city expansion. In a first move the space between the new Marina and the estuary of the Barranco de Santos will be cleared from port uses. Our proposal for this new piece of land is a phased development of mixed use structures. These new buildings should have different architectural styles and typologies - all based on the idea of free standing single pieces or clusters in order to avoid a closed sea front. Different architects of local, national and international stature could and should participate in the creation of a lively and attractive new quarter for Santa Cruz.

The port service road
We propose two options for the future positioning of the port service road: below ground or above ground. Both options integrate well with the urban concept of our scheme. Both options also fulfill all the technical and functional requirements of the client's brief. Future cost evaluation will help making a final decision for either the option below or the option above ground.

The Barranco de Santos
This natural creek represents an interesting space which can improve the urban quality of the old city around the museum district and Iglesia de la Concepciòn. The Barranco is filled with water for around three days every year, the rest of the year it remains dry and empty. A new concept for landscaping and lighting will transform the barranco in an attractive green space. It will then also enhance the connection with the future development in the Los Llanos Dock area.
Herzog & de Meuron, 1998


Herzog & de Meuron Team:
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron
Project Architects: David Koch (Associate), Astrid Peissard (Associate), Benito Blanco Avellano, Miguel Pallares, Stefan Segessenmann


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