ESPO Award 2022: let us present the shortlisted projects: Ceuta Port Authority

21 October 2022

The ESPO Award 2022 will go to the port managing body which has developed a series of initiatives and/or a strategy in collaboration with the different stakeholders and the city to enhance the maritime passenger links and the connectivity within the city or with other cities and regions of Europe, be it for its own citizens or for allowing visitors from all over the world to visit and discover the city and bring added value to the local community. The role of the port in enhancing the connectivity through a smooth and friendly passage through the port in and out of the city, as well as efforts of the port to give visitors a first good impression of the city or region are important criteria. Environmental and social sustainability of the project or strategy will be a prerequisite for winning the ESPO Award 2022.

The four projects that are shortlisted for this year’s Award are the projects of ports of Ceuta (Spain), Barcelona (Spain), Tallinn (Estonia) and the cooperation project of the ports of Ancona, Ravenna, Venice, Trieste, Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik (Italy and Croatia).

ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects before the winner is announced during the traditional ESPO Award Ceremony and Dinner taking place on 8 November in Brussels. We now present the project of the Port of Ceuta.

Ceuta Port Authority

Building a “straight way” to connectivity

Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2022! Could you briefly describe your project?

The port of Ceuta is located in the North of Africa, in the Spanish city of Ceuta. It is one of the main ports linking the northern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar with the southern one, a privileged location where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean are connected and where maritime activity is very important with a traffic of approximately 100,000 ships each year including passenger transport.

In this context, the new ferry terminal becomes particularly relevant considering the almost 2 million passengers who cross the Strait of Gibraltar every year and due to the importance of the Port of Ceuta as a strategic port together with Algeciras and Tanger Med regarding the Strait Crossing Operation (OPE).

The main objective of this project is to build a more accessible and safer Ferry Terminal for passengers, while improving the functionality of the passenger transport facilities including environmental and social sustainability criteria.  

The new building will have a total surface area of 6,575.15 m2 distributed over two floors with a functional design and will be connected to the existing building through the passenger galleries, which will be refurbished in order to improve energy efficiency in this area, among other aspects.

The ground floor, with an extension of 3,253.90 m2, will be used as the entrance hall as well as commercial and security areas (National Police, Civil Guards and Private Security). The pre-boarding lounge and the embarkation and disembarkation areas, together with other areas for private use, will be located on the top floor, occupying a total area of 3,321.25 m2.

The structure of the terminal is designed to ease accesses allowing embarkation and disembarkation flows to be well defined and with no interference between them.

In addition to this, the external space in front of the main façade will provide ample space for pedestrian areas and paths to avoid interaction with vehicles and to ensure a safe and comfortable pedestrian circulation.

The project also involves the reorganisation of the spaces surrounding the terminal, such as the car park and the road area in front of the new building. Thus, a central square is planned where the bus parking and emergency vehicles will be located. The accesses to the public and private car parks and to the restricted area of the port are organised specifically to avoid crossings and intersections along the routes.

All the previously aforementioned initiatives will have a positive effect on the port-city interaction and will encourage the use of public transport.

The project, included in the Investment Plan of the Port Authority of Ceuta and financed with funds from the European Union, FEDER funds, has a budget of approximately 18 million euros and represents one of the largest investment and construction projects in the Autonomous City of Ceuta over the last decade, fulfilling the objective of reorganising the port spaces and improving the Port-City interaction. For this reason, using the motto: "Achieving sustainable transport" and with the necessary economic support to make the project feasible, ACTIONS FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND SAFETY OF THE PORT OF CEUTA are in progress.

© Port of Ceuta

How has your project contributed to enhancing the city connectivity with regard to maritime passenger transport?

Ceuta is a Spanish city of approximately 20 km² and 85,000 inhabitants, located on the African coast just on the Strait of Gibraltar. Its geographical situation makes maritime transport of vital importance for supply and connections with the rest of the world. Surrounded by sea, except for its southern part, where it borders Morocco, it is a port conditioned by the lack of territory. Morocco's economic policy of isolation towards the city of Ceuta leads to a claim of sovereignty in the commercial sphere that closes off the exchange of goods between the two countries.  This reality is reflected in the absence of connection infrastructures between the port and the border, there is no railway since its dismantling at the end of the protectorate, and the national road is reduced to a single lane in each direction with insufficient transit capacity, since most of this area is a part of a main road with limited traffic speed. Therefore, inhabitants and visitors have only one viable point of entry and exit Ceuta, and that is to do so by sea.

The port and its Ferry Terminal are the entrance and exit of the city. Currently, the port has a daily maritime communication with the city of Algeciras, around 20 one-hour crossings. Three shipping companies with more than 2,000,000 passengers a year. A Spanish city, separated from the mainland and surrounded by sea, can only grow by strengthening its maritime communication, that is why the project for the construction of a new, more modern, safer, and more efficient Ferry Terminal is of great importance, not only for the Port but also for the future of the city.

The creation of the Maritime Station Adaptation Project will reinforce the maritime communication with the city, favouring the movement of passengers, optimising the accesses and the embarkation and disembarkation operations by dividing the incoming and outgoing flows.

Could you tell us more?

In addition to above-mentioned, other international factors such as the pandemic, the proliferation of terrorism, other acts of an anti-social nature and the international conflict between Russia and Ukraine make it even more relevant to increase passenger security. Furthermore, infrastructure legislation imposes an obligation on operators to adopt security measures to ensure and optimise the response to the increasing demands for the protection of people and the creation of secure infrastructures. There is therefore a clear need to improve the security conditions of the Ferry terminal, to resize the waiting and control areas and to organise passenger traffic more efficiently by separating embarkation and disembarkation flows.

How does your project contribute to bringing added value to the local community?

The socioeconomic and geostrategic characteristics of Ceuta configure its port with a particular influence of its surroundings, in comparison to other State Ports. At present, there are two main types of traffic, supplying and passenger traffic, which will have to be diversified in the future, taking advantage of the strategic strength of the Port to achieve the financial self-sufficiency required by the current legal framework.

The port has an extraordinary importance in the local economy of Ceuta. Due to its geographical features, the port is the means of communication with the rest of Spain, the entry and exit of most of the merchandise and consumer goods, the basic support for the commercial activities and the territorial reference of its urban structure and functioning.

Proof of this is that, according to an economic impact study carried out by the University of Cadiz in 2016 titled: “Pasado, presente y futuro del Puerto de Ceuta. Año MMXXI”, port operations entail the existence of 1,800 direct jobs and the other port activities that configure the port industry involve the direct or indirect dependence of 7,112 jobs, 24.4% of the total employment in the city.

According to the same study, the creation of added value from the economic activity generated by the port is equivalent to 28.1% of Ceuta's GVA. Given that the pulse of the city of Ceuta and the vitality of its economy depend, directly or indirectly, on port activity, any plan to enhance its social and business environment and, consequently, any infrastructure action programme, must have the port as a central element. On the whole, we could say that the quality of the port determines and affects the well-being of the city and, although it is not the only influential factor, it is undoubtedly an essential one without which the others would be ineffective.

© Port of Ceuta

Could you describe the original and innovative character of your project?

The building design plays a fundamental role in the original and innovative character of the “New Ferry Terminal”. Considering the importance of mobility, accessibility and connectivity between the city and its port, this project integrates three fundamental pillars: safety, aesthetics and functionality.

Therefore, the future terminal fulfils the double objective of providing some public and accessible space for passenger transport and, at the same time, working as an element of security against attempts to access restricted areas, mainly caused by illegal immigration and the continuous migratory pressure.

As the gateway to the city, it also responds to the need to design an emblematic building that blends in with its surroundings.

All these aspects define the innovative essence of our project. Thus, the new terminal is configured as a volumetric play of superimposed boxes that configure the space with an original combination of materials, cubic shapes and volumes at different levels that allow us to create a safe, efficient and functional building especially for passengers.

The exterior of the building is designed to protect it from any act of vandalism, which it is achieved by playing with volumes and also allowing natural light and air circulation. The most exposed areas have a stone façade with specific openings that allow light to enter. The carpentry is placed with external beams to prevent protrusions on the façade, thus avoiding the possibility of climbing. This façade is protected by porcelain slats that regulate the entry of natural light into the building, while acting as a security barrier against people trying to access the building's roof.

Finally, the combination of all these elements lead to a more sustainable building in terms of energy efficiency, allowing natural light and ventilation. So as to the equipment and design of the facilities, efficient technologies and centralised control systems were chosen. The selection of materials was also based on efficiency, functionality, durability, maintenance savings and safety.

Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2022?

The insular nature and the peripheral situation of the City of Ceuta has conditioned that the port has been, since time immemorial, the main route of entry and exit from the African continent to the European one. Therefore, our port stands as a key and fundamental element in passenger transport. Good evidence of this are the 2 million people who cross the Strait of Gibraltar every year using the port infrastructures, being, furthermore, one of the main ports in the Strait of Gibraltar Crossing Operation.

Considering that passenger traffic is one of our main strengths, this edition of the ESPO awards allows us to value all the efforts carried out by this Port Authority in recent times. In addition to this, the port of Ceuta is one of the main economic engines of the city and, specifically, passenger transport is one of the most important sources of income for the port entity with its consequent impact on the local economy.

In the same line, it is also important to underline that the City of Ceuta does not have a relevant business and industrial fabric owing to the lack of land for its implementation. Because of this, the port becomes an integrating element, providing the city with surfaces available for the economic development.

Through this project, the Port Authority of Ceuta aims to provide added value by making a good first impression on citizens, as well as on people who visit us. “The ferry terminal is the first and last thing passengers see when they arrive or leave Ceuta by sea, so it is also a symbol of our city”.

It is also important to highlight that it is not an isolated project, but also it is complemented by other important actions that are being carried out, such as the supply and installation of new boarding gangways and the works carried out to adapt the access avenue to the terminal.

Finally, it should be noted that the proximity of relevant and experienced ports such as Algeciras or Tangier obliges the Port of Ceuta to be at the forefront of the development regarding passenger transport. Any improvement in this regard has a greater impact on the local community, as the port is the key point in the connectivity of its citizens.

Situated and isolated in the north of Africa, Ceuta has spent more than 300 years experiencing the need to continue promoting the development of passenger transport in order to contribute to the city progress. Port and city, an interaction in constant evolution with the sea as the only motorway towards Europe in the strait of Gibraltar"

Adolfo Orozco Pérez, Director of the Port Authority of Ceuta

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